I had heard it repeatedly, in different words, but in the same spirit that traveling opens up the mind and the heart, and it gives us a unique perspective in life, changing us for the better. As my office visit to the US approached nearer, I was excited. I had all these expectations built up in my mind, and now when I sit down to write about my experience, I can tell you that the journey did not disappoint at all. I learned more than I could have ever thought.
During my flight to the US, I had a 22-hour long layover in Istanbul, Turkey. A little secret here: I thought a step ahead and applied for a visa for Turkey beforehand. In European destinations, Turkey has a vibrant history, but it is underrated. That is why I was always interested in knowing more about Turkey. However, I didn’t realize how underrated it was until I experienced what the place offered. Turkey is famous for its unique cuisine, beautiful mosques, and ancient streets. I am so glad that I got to see a part of all that in those hours.
My tour guide was friendly and gave me an amazing spin around Istanbul in such a brief time. He took me to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest markets in the world; the famous Hagia Sophia Mosque; and the historically breathtaking Blue Mosque. He even paid out of his own pocket so I could get the real raw experience of being in Turkey. We tasted their world-famous coffee and sweets but missed out on the ice-cream. My tour guide also treated me to chicken shawarma, a delicious Middle Eastern cuisine and one of the most famous street foods ever.
I had such a spectacular time there that I still carry the amazing scenery and the light December rain in my heart when I think of Turkey. Another thing that is nice about the place is how one can see a mosque in almost every other corner of the street, just like we have temples in Kathmandu. Istanbul is a stunning place that cannot be put into words, only seen and felt via first-hand experiences.
After I reached the US, the first couple of days were difficult to adapt to due to jet lag. However, I overcame my jetlag in 3 days. I landed at the start of the weekend and got plenty of resting time to recover. During my time in the US, I stayed with Ashay Dai and his wife, who are both welcoming and caring people. I felt at home, and even more so because bhauju is so kind and cooks delicious meals. For partying till late into the night, I went to Saurav Dai and Hikmat Dai’s place, the Extended Stay.
In the course of our party celebration, Saurav Dai, Hikmat Dai, and I planned out a New York sightseeing trip before we started work. Compared to my home country and Istanbul, a city I had just visited, New York was different. It is a fast-paced city that doesn’t wait for anyone and also aptly called ‘the city that never sleeps’.
New York is huge, and it is loud and exhausting, but also diverse and uplifting. I had seen the Big Apple only in the movies, and I was very excited to see what it was in reality. I’ll tell you this: New York City is truly a place to be; it’s a whole different side of the world. First, we went bicycle riding in Central Park and rode for about 2 hours around the park through different routes. Then, we went to the top of the Empire State Building to see the iconic skyline of the city.
In the evening, we went to Times Square. It felt like I was inside a movie, and the whole time I just couldn’t stop picturing the fight scene between Spiderman and Electro in The Amazing Spiderman 2. We also saw the pop-culturally significant apartment from the sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It was so surreal seeing a part of something in reality that I used to binge-watch back home. The day was so much fun, and we wrapped it up by partying until the wee hours of the morning. The next day, we took a ferry to Liberty Island and saw the iconic Statue of Liberty. Liberty Island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and we learned a lot about the rich historical significance of the place.
The next day, we went back to work at the office. We worked the entire week, and it felt great to be a part of the work culture in the US. I put a lot of energy and dedication into my work, and simultaneously, I was also eagerly waiting for the weekend to come so I could explore the city more. However, the highlight of the workweek was when Mukta Didi treated us to delicious momos. It was an extraordinary gesture, and the momos were to die for. Also that week, I paid a visit to my friend’s brother, Jabin Dai, who lived nearby. I guess you could say I was trying to practice the art of time management by juggling work in a new city, sightseeing, and socializing. It was a good week.
The next week, Hikmat Dai planned a visit to Boston, and we all went to Downtown Boston for some fun time. We also visited the renowned Harvard University and MIT. I particularly found Harvard University to be fascinating with its spacious grounds, huge buildings, and its sophisticated vibe. In the evening, we strolled in Boston Park. The next day, we walked Boston’s 2.5 mile Freedom Trail and saw all these iconic and historic places. We also learned about their stories. We also roamed around Boston Harbor. Boston Harbor is important in American history because of its role in Boston’s booming economy. Personally, I like Boston Harbor because it was my first time seeing the ocean. It was beautiful to watch the quiet waters and the boats dancing on the waves.
The next week, Hikmat Dai and I went to visit Chicago, an important agricultural, industrial, and transportation center of the US. Chicago is also fittingly named the ‘windy city’ because the air was so windy and cold that I thought my ears would fly off my head. It gets even more windy and cold in the winter, and I still wonder how people built a city that awesome in that terrible weather. Regardless of the air conditions, we had the most amazing time in Chicago. One of my friend’s sisters lives there, so we hung out at her place first and had a good catch up. Then, we met up with Dhiraj Dai, Hikmat Dai’s friend, and one of Deerwalk’s former employees. He gave us a memorable tour of the city, and I can’t thank him enough for that.
He took us to the Willis Tower, which is the 3rd tallest building in the US and the 23rd tallest in the world. The view from the skyscraper was unparalleled to anything else I had seen. Like a commonplace tourist, we went to a party that night, made two new friends, and danced till 2 in the morning. My feet were sore, but my heart was happy. Because of the heavy partying, we were physically exhausted to go anywhere else. So, we wandered around other tourist attractions like the Navy Pier, Millenium Park, and Cloud Gate. It was Monday; we had to bid goodbye to Chicago and return to New York. I honestly miss Chicago. It is a beautiful city, and even though it tried to take my ears away, I loved my time there.
After we got back, the next week marked the end of our US visit. We wanted to do something grand to make it an epic weekend before we left. Aside from the hard work at the office, we were planning hardcore the entire week to wrap up our visit with a big bang. We all settled on a destination trip to Miami. Saurav Dai’s brother also joined us, and when I say that Miami was unbelievably incredible, I mean it!
We went to the Wynwood Walls, which is an outdoor museum of international street art. As a lover of art, I lost myself in the graffiti, the vibrant colors, the stories behind the art, and the beautiful self-expression of artists from around the world. Then, we went to the famous South Beach. If you are in Miami, there is no way you are not going to the beach. Chicago was freezing, so we didn’t dip our toes in the water, but in Miami, the ocean itself was calling out to us.
You can’t explain how fantastic it feels to lie on the beach in tropical weather in your shorts looking across the ocean where the water doesn’t seem to end. At that moment, I felt like if you are traveling to the US, your journey is incomplete if you don’t come to Miami, and I still stand by that feeling. Apart from the beach and the great weather, Miami has a diverse population, the greatest Cuban cigars, beers ever, hot and happening nightlife, and there are these cool sports cars everywhere … and I mean everywhere!
In the last 2 days of our visit, we just spent packing for our trip back. I guess a part of me wanted to slow down time so I could stay a little longer. This US visit was not only just a visit for me. It was an opportunity for me to experience foreign culture, beautiful diversity in the lives of people, and see the world through a different lens. It gave me a much better understanding of not just in the professional front, but also in the way I conduct my daily life. I sincerely enjoyed being a part of the inspiring professional community here, and I learned a lot about time management, work dedication, and teamwork. My US visit is easily one of the most memorable times of my life so far, and I hope to use my experiences to grow both personally and professionally.
[Jenish Sainju, Data QA Engineer at Deerwalk Services Pvt. Ltd. Nepal, visited Deerwalk Inc, USA, from December 31, 2019 to January 31, 2020]