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Meet Max in New York!

Meet Max in New York!

Max has finished his studies in architecture and left to the USA together with his girlfriend. We asked him some questions about his experience abroad.

Why did you choose to go abroad?
During my studies in my third year of university, I went abroad to Australia for my minor. I loved to experience another culture, to go on an adventure, to see the world. During this time, I also met my girlfriend and when we graduated we both wanted to go abroad again, as we had such an amazing time during our minors. Since we graduated around the same time and didn’t have any obligations in our home country, it was a perfect opportunity. We preferred an English speaking country and we both think New York is an amazing city. A unique place with also a lot of great companies to work for.  Good friends of us live here, so that was also a factor. For these reasons, we started applying for positions in New York.

How did you find your internship?
I searched for architecture firms in New York and during my studies I already noticed some great firms I wanted to work for that are located in New York City. One of them liked my application and proposed a Skype interview and a couple of days later I had a position.

How do you feel about your internship so far?
The work is a lot of fun. I slightly underestimated the amount of hours that architects in New York work, but it’s part of the experience. I learn a lot from the two partners at the firm who guide me very well, but I’m also trusted with a lot of responsibility and free to design various elements of a big project we are working on.

How does the American culture differ from your culture and what has impressed you the most?
Of course there is the cliché that most Americans are very friendly on the outside but rather shallow and self-centered. This is partly true; they are very friendly but I won’t consider them to be shallow. New York is an enormous place with so many people on such a small piece of land that it’s only normal that people are a little self-centered, there are just too many people. But when push comes to shove, people are there for you and very helpful and caring for the people around them. I believe it can be a rather lonely place, even though it’s so crowded, but you can always go look for things to do, there’s always something cool or exciting happening.

Could you take us through a day? What is your routine?
In the morning I wake up around 7, shower and eat breakfast and cycle to work. There is a great system here where you can get a bike with an app on your phone. There are docking stations every couple of blocks and you can take a bike and return it at another docking station within 45 minutes. It takes me 35 minutes to get to work, so this works perfectly.
I arrive at work between 9.00 and 9.30, have an hour lunch around 13.00/14.00 and leave work (in theory) around 19.00, sometimes a little later if something needs to be finished or if there’s a deadline. And at night I either go home, have dinner and relax, or meet at a friend’s house, go out for dinner, or go and see a movie.

What is your housing situation? Do you live in an apartment? Roommates? Housemates?
Me and my girlfriend live in a studio apartment on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. It’s not big, which is normal in New York, but the location is great. At the edge of a park at the waterside. Close to central park and a subway station that takes you to midtown in about 10 minutes. Lots of bars, restaurants and supermarkets are close by.  Because of the rather high rent, it’s almost impossible to rent something by yourself. So you’ll have to live with roommates, or like in my case, with your partner.

Have you made any trips so far? 
No not yet, but we’re planning to go to Washington next month and in January there is a trip to New Orleans planned.

What are your future plans?
You never know what happens, but I expect to go back to the Netherlands next year and stay there for a while. Going abroad is a lot of fun, but it also made me realize how great the Netherlands is, and how important my friends and family are to me. Going abroad also takes a lot of time and effort to organize and starting a life in a different country does cost a lot of money, in our case we had to buy our hole interior from scratch (thank god there is an IKEA in Brooklyn that delivers). So building something in one place and staying there for a while also sounds good.    

How has this experience abroad helped you grow both professionally and personally?

When looking at how it helped me grow professionally, I’m working on a really big international project that has learned me a lot. Experiencing up close how an architecture firm works, dealing with contractors, making professional drawings etc. has helped a great amount. It also forced me to leave the student life behind and become more grown-up. Another main thing is finding the balance between work (long hours) and personal life. And as mentioned above, it has made me realize that some things that you sometimes take for granted, are really important in life.

Why would you recommend others to do their internship/traineeship abroad?
If you are thinking about it, and you have the opportunity, definitely do it because otherwise you will regret it. And it’s not always easy, but it’s a unique experience that will give you a lot. It’s also not a bad thing to have on your resume.

If you could express your internship experience in three words, what would these be?
Intense, unique, and fun.