Both my private and professional lives changed dramatically last year. At the start of 2016, I was working at MANN+HUMMEL Ludwigsburg as an Injection Moulding Shift Mechanic. By the end of the year, my wife and I were living over 4,500 miles away in Dunlap, Tennessee, USA, as I had been offered a job as a Manufacturing Engineer at MANN+HUMMEL’s plant in Tennessee. So, what motivated me to make such a life-changing decision?
To be honest, it all happened rather quickly. In July 2016, I was told of an opportunity in the USA and I submitted my resume to my boss to pass on. A day later, I was having a short telephone interview in English, a language I hadn’t spoken for some time and had only learned at school. It soon became clear that there was a real possibility the job might be mine. Luckily, my awesome wife was willing to quit her job in Germany to join me on this adventure.
Finding out about our new home
We went on a “look and see” trip for a week in August to get to know Dunlap and the surrounding area. The people were friendly and welcoming and the nearby city of Chattanooga has many great restaurants and a buzzing nightlife. We were surprised by the warm climate (Dunlap is 35 degrees north of the equator – the same as northern Africa) and amazing countryside, parks and natural scenery. Decision made: by the end of November we had moved and I had started my new position.
A new way of working
What’s it like as one of the few Germans working at MANN+HUMMEL USA and the only one in Dunlap? It’s awesome! My language skills have improved. I have learned so many things about the American culture and working practices. Plus, I have got to know more about MANN+HUMMEL in a foreign country.
It was easy to fit in with my new American colleagues. The working atmosphere is open, positive and relaxed, which encourages collaboration and flexibility. Problems are solved quickly as everyone wants to help and is invested in finding a solution. In team meetings, people are encouraged to nominate a colleague who has helped them or supported them that week – a recognition of an individual’s effort, which keeps the whole team motivated.
Time off means time to explore
On a personal level, I have experienced so much in my new country. My wife and I have discovered some great countryside hiking around Dunlap and Chattanooga – stunning waterfalls, beautiful mountains, breath-taking canyons. I have even been snowboarding in North Carolina. We travelled over 19,000 miles and visited 12 states in the first six months of our stay. Long distances suddenly become no problem; a long weekend in New Orleans? A 1,000-mile round trip? Let’s do it!
I have made some great friends in Dunlap, but, of course, I miss my friends and family from home. I also miss being the drummer for Team Red, the band I formed with three school friends. I still practice drumming at home. In fact, I recently put an advert in the local community newsletter for musicians and got a couple of replies so perhaps I’ll be able to play in a new band in the USA.
Don’t miss an opportunity
I wanted to write this blog article to encourage everyone to seize any opportunities presented to them. Before I moved to Dunlap, I had never lived abroad. But living in the USA has certainly broadened my horizon, introduced me to another way of life and given me opportunities I would never have had in Germany.