A taste of Michigan
by German Diaz Diaz
After four years working in Austria as a Project Manager, I was offered the opportunity to transfer to the US for a period of a year and a half. I have always been interested in other cultures and I had the chance to do projects in some TGW countries including the US before. This was, however, a serious step anyway. I already knew some of the US colleagues from previous projects, and this made the transition slightly easier. When I arrived here in June 2016 I did not feel as a complete stranger in the Grand Rapids office, but it took me a while to adapt to the new American life.
Michigan is not one of the most famous states in the US, but after some time here I have learned to appreciate its essence: nature, forests, the huge lakes, the shores, the lighthouses. One of the things that I enjoy most is the sunset at Lake Michigan, which is even more beautiful adding a lighthouse to it. I loved taking sunset pictures both in winter and summer. Michigan is a nice place to experience the four seasons: fall is red and brown, winters are white, spring has a deep green, and summer is… amazing. People just get crazy in summer and enjoy the sun, summer activities and festivals.
Everything in the US is about service and convenience, since most businesses focus strongly on a happy customer. At the supermarket, cashiers will fill the shopping bags for you, for free. Those businesses open until late Monday to Sunday and, some of them, even 24 hours a day. At the restaurant, the waiter will pack the leftovers for you to take home. Car oil change is just about going to the shop without any appointment and waiting in line for a few minutes. Amazon even delivers on Sunday in some locations.
In the US I continued to handle my TGW Mechanics projects but now there was more travel to the jobsite. Being on site more often and participating in the meetings with the final customer was a very good and exciting experience. I also enjoyed my time in the Grand Rapids office. It is a very dynamic one: lots of energy, many young people and also experienced employees. My co-workers organized many events for occasions like Christmas, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo with potluck and dishes to share. Recently there was a massive company barbeque at a co-worker’s home, where a full pig was slowly cooked (smoked) and we all brought a dish to share in the celebration.
I also had time to visit six other US states for vacation or short getaways, and enjoyed the may different but beautiful landscapes. I experienced the exciting, vibrant and noisy city of New York too. I visited multiple places in Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula. In Chicago, Illinois, I admired the rich architecture and the famous Millennium Park. None of my friends in Austria and Spain knew too much about Michigan, but now I am doing “marketing” and I had some of my family and friends come over for a visit, too.
In conclusion, the experience here has been very positive from a professional and personal perspective. I got to know many nice TGW colleagues in Grand Rapids and Spring Lake. I have felt very welcomed and supported in all phases of the expat process.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Grand Rapids and Spring Lake colleagues for making me feel part of the global TGW family.
Did we make you curious?
Throughout the global TGW family, with its entities in Europe, America and Asia, we are searching for people that can make a difference. We are always looking for people who want to develop, think outside the box and who have an understanding of internationality.