As I may have mentioned in other posts, I was posted to Cleveland and Raleigh for two weeks for a job training. It was hell of a big deal to me. It still means a lot now that I am back in Singapore. Being a 21 year old, having the chance to visit my company’s other offices in U.S., being on a journey halfway across the world all alone. Sure it was intimidating at first, but I am grateful my first trip alone became such a meaningful and fulfilling one.
On June 6th 2015, I took a flight to Cleveland, Ohio. I transited in Dubai and New York. I finally arrived at my destination on June 7th evening Eastern Time. That was equivalent to more than 24 hours of flights including transits.
I should also give thanks to all the people I met because they helped me out in all possible ways to ensure my safety and comfort.
They came to pick me up from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
So I arrived in Cleveland, just a lake away from Canada! My co-workers told me stories of fishing in Lake Erie, and halfway out in waters their phones lost receptions and that was when they realised they are in Canadian waters.
I stayed in Towneplace Suites Cleveland Streetsboro for five nights. It was pretty decent.Tripadvisor for some really helpful reviews!
Coming from a tropical country, the weather in Cleveland felt so cooling. The mornings were chilly, at about 15-18 degrees celsius. The afternoons were comfortably warm between 24-28 degrees celsius. I went there during summer so the sun sets relatively late, at about 8:50PM. This was the hardest to adapt to for me, because sun sets at 7PM or earlier in Singapore. Nothing bad about the sun setting later, in fact I liked that the days were longer than nights, it just felt so odd that the sky was still bright at 8PM. However the long days were often cloudy. Cleveland rarely has sunny days therefore even summer looks gloomy.
I wouldn’t say I had a culture shock working in our main office in Cleveland. I am pretty versatile, if I may use this vocabulary to describe being able to adapt to different cultures. Regardless, the working environment in Cleveland was very different from Singapore. For starters, all the ladies dressed conservatively. No skirts above the knees, no tops revealing upper arms or shoulders, nothing flashy or eye-catching. The gentlemen all dressed neatly in shirt and pants. Occasionally there were engineers in polos, but still looked fresh and smart. I was warned by my Director about dress codes in the United States’ offices so I left all the dresses and skirts that I’d usually wear in Singapore, and brought a pair of jeans and midi skirt for work purpose.
Those were only visually noticeable differences. The strongest factor that made me fell in love with the work environment was that everyone was polite and started their day positively. Every person that I passed by in the morning, whoever they were, managers, directors, janitor, engineers, associates, even the hotel guests who mostly consisted of business travellers, would greet or smile at one another. This was something that I have NEVER experienced back in Singapore.
Moreover, the Cleveland office operates in a very relaxed environment. Co-workers try to prevent themselves from getting bored by engaging in chats totally unrelated to work. The best part was that at the end of the day everyone managed to get their jobs done! This is one significant factor which pulls me towards U.S. Most office working people in Singapore start off their mornings feeling grumpy for all sorts of reasons; inefficient train service (you have got to try out NYC metro to know how good Singapore train system is), unfriendly neighbours, rowdy morning crowd, etc. Within the offices, employees stress themselves out on work, but the results are not necessarily effective nor efficient.
Some other practices worth adopting are weekly fruit day, monthly potluck, weight loss competition, and new employees’ orientation games. These activities all promote healthy bodies and minds, and enhance co-workers’ relationships. They also have very extensive office supplies, including all kinds of teas you can find in normal super-marts, flavoured coffee creamers (vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, original), anything that makes people feel like they are in the comfort of their own homes, or even better.
Unlike how most people think of Americans, my co-workers in Ohio actually have way healthier diets than many of us. Their lunch boxes usually consist of homemade salads, baked dishes, fruits and snacks. In fact our usual meals in Singapore are so much oilier and less nutritious in comparison. This cheesesteak was perhaps the fattiest meal I had in Cleveland.
I came to adore this way of life; bringing homemade lunches to work, working in a relaxed environment, surrounded by amiable co-workers. I am certain I will have a healthier mind and body within a month. To make Cleveland seem like an even more desirable place to reside in, the houses are gorgeous! Well, at least to a city kid like me, the houses in Cleveland are beautiful. Of course many will argue that there are prettier houses and estates elsewhere. Please bear in mind that I have lived in Singapore my whole life. High rise buildings everywhere, majority lives in apartments. Yes there are houses, but the houses are mostly small and all cramped together in a cluster. Most could not imagine how delighted I was to not see any skyscrapers in any directions, and to see houses at least 5 metres apart from one another. I wish I took pictures of the houses but I was coping with jet lag so badly so here’s a nice picture of the ball park downtown.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had a significant match that same day, so people were more hyped about basketball than baseball.
And the basketball game was held right beside Progressive Field!
Baseball was not fun to watch in my opinion. Weird enough, I’d prefer watching baseball on tv than watching it live. Perhaps I need more understanding of the game. Nonetheless it was a nice experience!
I was not able to spend the weekends in Cleveland because I had a flight to catch to Raleigh on Friday evening. No doubt my stay in Cleveland was short, and most of the time I had to deal with serious jet lag, but it sure was a pleasant trip with kind people and serene environment.
My experience and thoughts about Raleigh up next! And definitely more image heavy I promise!