Beth Werlin, Deputy Legal Director for the American Immigration Council, discusses the recent...
A Conversation with Klaas Frese
Congratulations to Klaas Frese, our Exchange Visitor of the Month! Klaas came to Pennsylvania from Germany to train in the area of freight forwarding. We caught up with Klaas after a recent trip to Las Vegas to learn more about his experience in the United States.
Were you excited to come to Pennsylvania from Germany? What did you expect?
At the first time I was a bit nervous to stay for a year alone. I wanted to have a good time and learn new skills and so far I’m learning a lot that I can take back to Germany and share with my colleagues.
Describe your training for us.
I’m training at a freight forwarding company and also in customs brokerage. We get cargo from US suppliers and ship it worldwide to the destination. This company is our partner company to my Germany company. It’s nice to see how the Americans handle things. I think they have a little bit better customer service.
What is your favorite part or memory of your training?
I really like the export department. It’s good to see the other side!
I would imagine that PA would be very different from Germany. What is the biggest difference to you? Are there any similarities?
First is the US is a very communicating country. People talk to each other – small talk. Just sit in the bus and the person next to you will start a conversation. “Oh you’re from Germany! That’s so exciting! My grandfather was from Germany or my family is from Germany”. It’s amazing how they are interested in other cultures. That’s really nice I didn’t expect it.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of your training?
The best thing is to meet people. The US is a very communicating country.
Have you shared your own culture with your co-workers? If so, how?
Yes! One of our coworkers is very interested and would love to go to Germany. We’re working on it that he could go to the company there. We are not that different so it’s not so much culture shock.
How do you think participating in activities outside your training have helped you better understand American culture?
I’m a big handball player in Germany I tried to find a team here but it was hard so I just go outside and go for a run. I saw some football and ice hockey games. Germans are really big soccer fans and so now I have some other experiences to share.
What other activities do you still hope to do before your training is over?
Only a baseball game is now missing. Our local team is not that good but I’ll share the experience with some friends that are coming to visit next week.
Are there any stereotypes of Americans that you have found to be true or untrue through your experience?
Nothing from the stereotypes that are true! Normally we think that Americans don’t like to talk to people but it’s the other way around. My girlfriend found this to be true as well.
What do you think makes a successful J-1 Exchange Visitor?
If you really want to learn more about the culture just go out and have some drinks with them and you’ll be friends forever.
Any last thoughts?
I really have a great time here. Everybody is so nice and friendly!
Would you like to be featured as our next Exchange Visitor of the Month? Let us know what you are doing -- send us an email with your story and a picture to J1Program@immcouncil.org.