Our big adventure is already coming to an end and I cannot believe how fast time flew by. We have learnt a lot, had new experiences and met wonderful people. We will take back a lot to Germany, not only knowledge but also new clothes… it turned out that you can shop here even better than everybody said, especially in the Tanger Outlet in Pooler were we stopped by more than one time.
In our free time we explored the environment and bought some souvenirs. At work meanwhile, we learnt a lot new stuff.
I had my internship at John S. James Co., a forwarding agency and customs broker. I visited three different departments, Account Executive, Imports and Exports. The Account Executive Department is the middle part between the rates and the Sales Department and communicates with customers, solves problems and sends rate offers to customers. It was super interesting for me to be in this department, I learnt incredibly much and had very interesting conversations with my supervisor. In addition to that, I had my own project which was called ramp project. I created a huge excel sheet where all rail ramps of the US were listed and I contacted different steam ship lines to find out which rail ramp terminal they call on in which city. For example, Chicago has 13 different terminals, so it makes a differences in the rate for the on-carriage where the container is unloaded from the rail. Because of this project I improved my English, I discussed possible solutions with my supervisor and I got a better overview of the various States in the US.
My second department was Imports and I learnt here how to create ISF filings. This was interesting to see because we had it in school in Germany so I could connect my knowledge. ISF means Importer Security Filing and it is a document which is transmitted automatically to customs. In this document details like consignee, shipper, goods content, weight etc. are disclosed and filed.
I also learnt a lot about foreign trade zones because some employees manage them for a huge automobile manufacturer. A foreign trade zone is an area in the US where big companies are allowed to get parts in without customs clearance when they manufacture them in the foreign trade zone and bring them out again. I did not know this method, so it was really interesting for me to see. Another colleague showed me how to write the bills for a different big automobile manufacturer and I assisted him with this.
In between there were interesting events like the monthly customs broker meetings or the visit at a consolidating truck company. In addition to that I drove with my supervisor from the Account Executive department to the Charleston office and I got to know the other colleagues there.
My last department was Export and I did similar things here as I do in Germany, like writing bills of ladings or process billing.
In my host family I felt very comfortable from the beginning. My host parents integrated me directly and the children felt like little siblings to me. We went together on trips, celebrated Halloween and decorated for Christmas. We were also in the mountains in Georgia on the weekend where we hiked and saw waterfalls.
Luckily my host mum cooked very healthy all day but that is mostly not the case here and I appreciated it a lot.
Besides local trips, I visited Miami, New York and North Carolina and every area was completely different and I saw a lot. You are also able to do a lot in the surrounding areas of Savannah and the low country, we visited some beaches like Jekyll Island, Hilton Head and St. Simon’s. All these beaches are just one hour with the car from Savannah.
I noticed that I am really flexible in Germany with the public transportation, especially in the bigger cities. In the US it is not so easy to move without a car except in the big cities like New York. I drove 45 minutes to work with my host mom every day by car so it was complicated to do something after work on my own. When there was something after work I wanted to do we took both cars to work, which is really weird for me in Germany because I normally just travel by train there.
As you can see there are many differences that I had to overcome, like the food or the car dependence, but regardless I soon felt very comfortable and would stay longer if I could. It is clear for me that I will come back next year to visit my host family.
In general, it was a great internship where I learnt a lot and met nice people! I also learnt a lot about myself, even if I never thought that this “self-finding abroad” is true.
I can just recommend to do this if you have the possibility!