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As a cooperative student at Evonik, Miriam had the opportunity to do an international internship in the U.S. In our students@Evonik blog she talks about her experiences.

#2 - About peaches, air conditioning and other typical American things

Did you know that pedestrian lights in the U.S. turn white instead of green? Or did you know that Georgia is also referred to as the “Peach State”, which is the reason why many things ranging from clubs to restaurants there have names related to the word peach? These are just small examples that contribute to a greater picture: Culture. In this blog article, I’d like to tell you more about the cultural differences I observed while working in Georgia.

Whenever I travel abroad, I create a list of cultural characteristics that are new to me and update that list whenever I find the time to do so. I continued this practice during my stay in Kennesaw and as for the U.S., there were by far more things to put on my list than I had expected before!

One of the first things I realized was that people in Georgia love their peaches. For instance, I joined a running club called “Big Peach Running”, whose logo is - what else could it be - a giant peach wearing running shoes. Also, numerous streets have names related to the fruit making it sometimes very complicated to find the right place when it comes to distinguish between names like Peach Road, Peachtree Road, Peachtree Boulevard, and so on. At the same time, you can basically find images of peaches everywhere in Georgia, even on your car’s license plate!

Another rather obvious aspect is the Americans’ extensive use of air conditioning: At the beginning of my stay, it was normal for me to put on my jacket once I entered a building and to take it off when I got outside again. It took me some weeks to get used to the temperature differences between the inside and outside, but even so, I ended up missing the American air conditioning upon my return to a very hot and non-air-conditioned Germany!

A major difference between Europe and the U.S. is people’s relation to distances. Where I come from, I could never imagine driving almost an hour for sports classes or to meet a friend for coffee during the week. Neither did I expect to drive 5 hours one way for a trip to the coast on a regular weekend - but in the U.S. it just seems like the normal thing to do. So I joined a group of volleyball players about an hour from where I lived and went on a weekend trip to Savannah, one of America’s so-called haunted cities offering a beautiful old town and a lot of ghost stories around its ancient buildings. And even if the 5-hour drive to get there seemed quite long for such a short stay - I am glad I went anyways.

However, I also got to know the American culture from a more personal perspective. What I appreciated the most about it is their open way to communicate. Especially while working at Evonik, I enjoyed the direct and rather casual way colleagues talked to each other without being less respectful, since it created a more comfortable work surrounding. My contribution to meetings and discussions was always appreciated, which gave me the feeling of being able to provide support despite the fact that I was new to many topics. Another aspect I liked is the American’s so-called “Casual Friday”: Every Friday, the whole department would dress up less formally to remind each other that the weekend is coming soon. All of these small things made working in Kennesaw even more interesting for me - in a positive way!

Cultural differences can affect private as well as professional environments at many stages and sometimes, misunderstandings or even conflicts might arise during an international encounter. To me, cultural competence is not the attempt to avoid these, but rather the capability of handling them right. I am thankful for having been given the chance to learn this skill during my stay in the U.S.!


On the students@Evonik blog students working at Evonik share their experiences about life in the company. 


... at #HumanChemistry

#NewYearNewMe! ✨ A few weeks ago, my colleague Derya and I had the great opportunity to record our fourth TikTok video together with some of our Evonik apprentices. Watch the full video on TikTok to find out what their dream jobs are 🎬: https://www.tiktok.com/@evonikofficial #HumanChemistry #Ausbildung #EmployerBranding #NewYearNewMe
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Yesterday we launched our D&I campaign 'Everyone Evonik - Everyone unique' in which colleagues of Evonik Antwerpen introduce themselves to each other. They show that it is possible to do both: to feel 100% at home at Evonik and to be completely yourself at the same time. Colleague Mohamed Amhaoul is the first to tell his story. Read it in Dutch (https://corporate.evonik.be/nl/DI) or in English right here: YOU CAN TURN PREJUDICES AROUND "I am Mohamed Amhaoul, but everyone calls me Moh. I grew up in a Muslim family and am now a husband and father of grown-up children myself. I have been working for Evonik Antwerp since 2005. I started my career at the silanes production unit and after wanderings via the then Cyol unit and the hydrogen peroxid unit, I have been working at the methionine unit for several years now. I am a team leader in the B-team and I am also involved in the employee representation. By ending up in so many different teams, I have already experienced a lot, both positive and negative. Experiences are real learning opportunities for me. For example, I learned over the years not to react immediately when people say something. I take the time to think. A statement always has a context and you can't just assume it's meant badly. I'm a big fan of the consultation culture and conversations. If we don't talk to each other, we won't get anywhere. I really believe that. My origins and religion sometimes cause unease in other people. I have learned to be careful with my own reactions, not to make things worse. You always have a choice: stir things up or be smart. I find it smarter to have a calm conversation and not to impose yourself or your own opinion. Believe me, I have experienced it many times: prejudices can be turned around, without fierce discussions or heated situations. Give people time and trust comes almost naturally. I myself do not accept any form of discrimination. Not in relation to women, colour, religion, race, gender,... and this at no time: not at work, not in the sports club, not in the family. For example, my sisters all started higher education, because I was able to convince my parents of the importance of it. The sports federation, where I am a member of the board, has appointed me as a confidential advisor and I am grateful for that. Here at work, I feel respected. I can be who I am and I wish that for everyone. I dream of a world where boys and girls get to choose what they study, where firms reflect the diversity of the world. Where no one is afraid to be themselves and everyone respects each other without reservation. We are on the right track, there are many bright spots for those who want to see them. #HUMANCHEMISTRY #DIVERISTY #EVERYONEEVONIKEVERYONEUNIQUE #SENSEOFBELONGING #DIVERSITEIT #INCLUSIE #EVONIKANTWERPEN #IEDEREENEVONIKIEDEREENUNIEK #D&i #INCLUSION
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Responsible for Communication - Central & South America Region #Evonik #teamwork #determination