Each time our team travels for meetings, we always try to connect with some of our local exchange visitors (EVs). Earlier in February, we met five NYC based exchange visitors for breakfast or as I like to call it – “coffee and convo the J way.”The group, while small, was from all over – Mexico, Chile, England, The Netherlands, and Germany. (We also had SHRM Program Manager Gennady Babankov with us, so we can go ahead and check the Russia box too.)
When we meet with exchange visitors, I love hearing about their U.S. experiences and I really love a funny cultural adaptation story. We all have them. For example, when I was studying in France, I tried to explain to my French host family how I love a fountain Coke – “Coke a la fontaine” I described. This was, of course, wrong, as they were imagining a huge fountain at the end of a grand boulevard spewing coke instead of water. I digress… back to our EVs.
We all know that meters vs. feet, and F vs. C, and U.S. lingo can be confusing. When one of our EVs tried cooking fish for the first time in her NYC apartment, she figured 45 min at 220 should do it. Nope. Raw and still partially cold and very disappointing. *BUT* a great learning experience that in the United States we use Fahrenheit, and well, it’s quite different from Celsius. A colleague told another EV to meet at “5 Times 2”. The EV just kept showing up at 10:00 for the meeting but no one was there (Get it? 5x2=10). This was actually the code for their main office address (not her training location) which she didn’t know. Side note, did you know that in England they use feet rather than meters? In my head, they drive on the other side of the road and use Celsius, so clearly, they use the metric system. Nope.
Another thing I love about meeting with our exchange visitors is the tips they share about their host cities. For example, have you heard of lottery.broadway.com? You can enter a lottery to win tickets to any Broadway show. How did I not know about this? Hamilton, here I come – not giving up my shot! Also, I learned that if you can show official mail from your NYC residence, you can get into the Met for free. This doesn’t help me, but such great info for all my exchange visitors!
If I’m honest, it’s not the visa application paperwork I love about my job (surprise), it’s meeting the exchange visitors and hearing about their experiences. And if I’m really honest, I love knowing that I played a part in making it happen. When I lived abroad, I had life-changing positive experiences, and I want our exchange visitors to feel the same way when they leave our wonderful country. So if you have any tips/deals for the SHRM Exchange Visitors, please share them – let’s all make sure their time in the U.S. is something they’ll never want to forget! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.