Maple Grove calling again! My placement here is speeding by and before I know it, it’ll be time to come back to Germany. In this post, I’ll be telling you a bit about what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks – and that includes my various travels.
Living and working in Maple Grove
After the first snow and a taster of the cold winter to come, the weather has actually been quite mild – not what I was expecting at all!
Let me tell you a bit about my work:
During the week I’ve fallen into a kind of routine. My main job here is a project I’m working on with my department back in Germany. My job is to unearth interesting customer stories (primarily related to companies in the USA that use ZEISS measuring machines) that tell of their experiences with ZEISS Industrial Metrology GmbH and use this information to prepare a text for the ZEISS Stories website. At the same time, I help out my colleagues here with any small jobs that need to get done quickly. The office is a really nice place to work, and my coworkers are happy to answer any questions I might have.
Unlike in Germany, where we get paid at the end of the month, Americans get paid every two weeks. That’s why every other Friday is payday which, besides paychecks, is filled with plenty of donuts, bagels and fresh fruit for all employees – and it’s all free! If you ask me, this is a great tradition – and one I could really get used to! In general, here at the Marketing department there’s often something to eat, be it sandwiches, brownies, cookies or anything else – no one’s gonna go hungry here!
Sometimes colleagues from other departments organize trips, barbecues, game nights and plenty of other fun activities – and they’re always sure to invite us interns! This is great because you get to know more about the local culture and way of life after work and have a lot of fun doing so. Sports events are also very popular here, and the teams in Minnesota are currently doing well in almost all kinds of sports. I’ve already been to a Minnesota Wilds ice hockey game and a Minnesota Timberwolves basketball game.
Trips in Minnesota
That still leaves some time at the weekend to discover more about the local area here in Minnesota. My first trips took me to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are just an hour’s drive apart. Speaking of driving, have I mentioned that you’re stuck out here if you don’t have a car? You can pretty much forget about public transportation, and even a quick trip to the grocery store means getting back onto the highway. Bike paths and footpaths are few and far between, and you’ll end up getting some weird glances if you do decide to walk somewhere.
That said, there are plenty of places to go for a spot of shopping, including the Mall of America (with 42 million visitors each year, it’s the most popular mall in the world, and was the largest of its kind in all of the US when it was opened back in 1992). There are also a few outlets and smaller shopping malls nearby. I definitely won’t be getting bored anytime soon!
Minnesota has plenty to offer nature lovers, too. A day trip to Duluth, a 3-hour drive away, reminded me how enormous this country really is, with its straight streets that seem to go on forever. Duluth is the fourth-largest city in Minnesota and is located right next to Lake Superior. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t that impressed with the city itself as it’s very industrial and looks a bit neglected. (Maybe we were just there at the wrong time of year – it was quite cold during the day and I think most people decided to stay indoors). What really impressed me, though, was Lake Superior: it covers an area of 82,103 km², is one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes and borders on three US states (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan) and the Canadian province of Ontario. When you look out at the lake, you feel as though you’re actually staring at the ocean. A little further north of Duluth is Gooseberry Falls, which was definitely worth the trip. During our visit, the large waterfall was half frozen and even the river that meanders its way from the falls and through the forest toward the lake was partly frozen, so much so that icebergs were floating in it – that was a sight to see!
Other stateside trips
I also found time for a 4-day trip to Chicago and spent Thanksgiving weekend in New York. Chicago certainly lived up to its reputation as the “windy city” but that didn’t stop us visiting all the sights on foot. One of my fondest memories is the fantastic view over the city that we enjoyed from the Skydeck atop Willis Tower, and Cloud Gate (a.k.a. The Bean).
I flew to New York for 6 days at the end of November with two of my fellow students from Germany. We were lucky enough to catch the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We also did plenty of sightseeing, visiting major landmarks like the Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and the Ground Zero memorial. We strolled through Central Park and took a boat ride on the river to see the Statue of Liberty, which is something you can’t miss when in New York. And one more thing: the view from the Brooklyn Bridge over the Manhattan skyline at dusk was one of my personal highlights.
After a fantastic 3 months here in the States, it’s now time for me to pack my bags and head back to Germany to finish up my studies at ZEISS. I hope you’ve enjoyed my account of life as an intern at ZEISS abroad and about my impressions of Maple Grove – and perhaps I’ve even convinced you to do an internship abroad! If you have any questions, feel free to use the blog’s comments section.