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When in Puerto Rico

Travel.

People told me that Puerto Rico is way too unsafe to travel around outside the hotel resort. Although there are some unsafe areas, just like there are in the United States, do not let that stop you from traveling around Puerto Rico.

If you stay on the resort, you may not get an immersed experience of their culture and you’ll miss beautiful ruins, mountains, rainforests, caves. Although the beach, oceans, and locals that work at the resort need a fair amount of attention, there is something unique about the rolling hills and poor farmers in the center of the island.

Rent a car.

There are many excursions that you can take through your hotel to see caves and go snorkeling, but it is less expensive and less time consuming to rent a car. If you’re looking to meet and spend time with other tourist, then you may want to go on the guided tours. The advantage of renting a car is that a 7 hour trip turns into 4 hours because there are not as many people to keep together. You can also go as early, or stay as late as you want and if you see a small shop or fruit stand on the side of the road, you’re more than welcome to stop.

This is a great opportunity to stop and talk to locals. The majority of people, even in the rural area, speak English. I found it beneficial to touch up on basic Spanish before I went, just in case. You’ll be surprised to find that many of their bars are in car shops and a dog laying at the end of the driveway is overly common. Roads are difficult to maneuver in the city and suburbs because of the potholes and aggressive drivers and the winding roads block visibility on narrow paths in the countryside, but it’s worth the drive. I would pay for the temporary insurance on the car for safe measures!

Stop and ask the locals about their life and experiences. Get insights. Learn more. Tell them about snow, locals are genuinely curious. Go outside of your comfort zone!

 

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When in NOLA

Listen.

There are so many opportunities to network at the American Marketing Association International Collegiate Conference and it starts with listening.

When in New Orleans, Louisiana – or anywhere else in the world, the most important thing you can do is listen. Listen to the conference hosts, key note speakers, individual session speakers. Hear their enthusiasm, their interest, and their passion. Listen to the locals. Where to go, what to do, how they feel, why they live there.

This experience was more than educational while sitting in the sessions, understanding the importance of what the keynote speakers were saying, but also learning a culture. Many people, especially millennials, are eager to travel the world. To go to Ireland, Australia, Germany; and learn a different way of life. This trip has opened my eyes to the variety of culture in our own nation. From what they eat (craw dads) to what they do for fun (play music on the streets). It’s a different way of life and it’s important to listen and learn.

Ask questions.

Students should stay after the individual sessions and ask as many questions as possible. If there is an opportunity, you should always ask for contact information from speakers for any future questions and to simply say thank you. Speakers at individual sessions are passionate about what they do and students should take advantage to learn as much as possible and create international connections. Keep in touch with the people you meet and maintain the relationship, it can only benefit your future career to have these connections.

Although the conference is where students meet professional contacts, it’s important to ask questions when traveling too. Ask the Willie’s Chicken Shack cashier how they are, if they live around the area, if they enjoy it. Listen to their experiences and get to know the locals. These personal relationships are going to be extremely memorable and valuable when reflecting on the culture in New Orleans.

I cannot fail to mention the connection with thousands of intelligent international students. When attending this conference, the strongest ties that will be created are with other students from around the world. These are some of the most involved and experienced people your age, in your field. Many students volunteer to help with the registration for the various competitions. When I was waiting for one of our club members to finish her final round in the sales competition, I sat down and talked to one of the volunteers. She was from Texas and her story was fascinating. She has an internship at Amazon and plans to work there after her graduation in May. We later connected on LinkedIn and she is an invaluable contact and friend. These are the types of relationships that students can develop and grow, which is essential to their network.

Out of the many individual sessions during the conference, the one that stood out most to me was from a young girl who was on the data analytics team for the Detroit Red Wings. The analytical aspect was interesting, but her passion for sports and collection and manipulation of information was admirable. To see how excited she was about turning data from parking spots into an organized application that assigns parking spots ahead of time was inspirational. For me, I did not realize if I should go into analytics or not during that session, but rather, I found the importance of finding my passion. Listening and taking notes of her path that lead her to her passion was much more beneficial than noting what analytics entails. You can Google what is involved in a data analytics job, but you can’t Google passion and experience.

These are the aspects of traveling that are often taken for granted. Listen, ask questions, and learn as much as possible.

When in NYC

Network.

The thing that is a MUST on your agenda while in New York, New York is network. If you’re going with friends, reach out to anyone you may know in the Big Apple. If you’re going alone, definitely find someone you may know. First, it’s a difficult city to navigate alone or if your haven’t been there before. Second, you probably know someone- a friend, a friend’s relative, a classmate- in New York.

If you cannot seem to find a contact in NYC, LinkedIn is your best friend. Connect with multiple people that are in your current or desired field. Tell them you’ll be in the city and ask for coffee.

Ask.

When you’re networking, you want to learn as much as possible about the other person, their passion, their career, and their location. The best part is people love talking about themselves! Majority rule is that if you ask a stranger for coffee because you’re interested in their field, they are flattered and will tell you more than you thought you wanted to know.

Ask that person about local places you should check out, museums such as the 9/11 Memorial, the National Finance Museum, New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), restaurants, boutiques- ask them about their favorites. Then, visit those places and give them feedback of your experience! When asking about where to visit, ask about who else you should reach out to. The person you’re talking to has connections and growing your network is always beneficial. Plus, you probably need to know someone to see places such as the NYSE.

The hardest part for me was taking advantage of the little things. There is so much going on in the city, so many big things, that the small things get drowned out. If you can, take the time to just stop (not in the middle of the sidewalk because you’ll be pushed aside) and take it all in. The buildings, the people, the smells. People do not stop to talk to each other in NYC, but if you can try to stop one person for one minute (usually at a store counter or a bar) and ask them about their experience in NYC, you’ll get precious insight.

Experience.

NYC is the city that never sleeps, so you shouldn’t either- figuratively of course. Everyone is continuously moving and grooving and you should try to get into that lifestyle for the time you’re there. It’s tiring, but completely worth it. There is so much to see and so little time. Try to keep moving and experience as much as you possibly can!

When in Canada

Stop assuming.

There is a general notion that Canada isn’t that different from America and in a lot of ways, it’s not, but in many ways, it’s very different. Besides the obvious currency change (which is difficult to manage at times), there are subtle differences that, if you acknowledge them, will allow you to have a completely different experience.

Canada is just a boarder and an enhanced ID away from Buffalo, a place that many of us know so well. Believe it or not, even right across the boarder in Niagara Falls, there is a different culture and it varies the further away you are from the boarder. Just like the different states in the United States, there are a variety of different cultures in Canada. Take the time to learn the different cultures.

For example, in Niagara Falls, Canada- our server told us he was on his Reading Week. We asked if they take the week to read, go the library, etc. As he explained the week to us, we realized their Reading Week is our Spring Break- simply time off from school. Something so little gives a great insight to their culture and their schooling system.

Much like the previous blog posts, take the time to ask the locals about their favorite locations to visit and their experiences living in the area. Canada’s laws and regulations are much different than the United States. Ask them their views about the United States.

Get a different perspective.

You may be amazed how other’s view our country, both positively and negatively. Knowing other perspectives is going to increase your understanding and acceptance of a variety of issues. Simply traveling to Canada and asking other’s views will make you more well-rounded. Accepting other’s ideas, whether educated or not, allows you to handle situations and manage people in a business setting more effectively.

So don’t assume and care about how other’s see something you’re very familiar with.

When in Your Own Backyard

Explore.

Upstate New York is where I was born and raised and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, no matter how much I complain about the snow. Everyone seems to want to travel to different states and countries. They want the whole world experience. Truth is, it’s pretty difficult to afford those travels, and if you can afford it, you don’t always have time.

No matter where you live, there are always more adventures in your backyard. Whether it is two blocks away or a couple of hours, there are woods, hills, fields to explore. Even if you feel comfortable with your area, there is always more to learn about it.

Personally, in Upstate New York, there are hundreds of hiking destinations including the Chimney Bluffs in Wolcott, pictured above. Living near the Finger Lakes has been a true blessing with all of there different opportunities and areas to explore. Although there are a variety of options in my area, I know there are in your area too, whether you think so or not.

Take a decent amount of time to experience your own backyard. You’ll find something new every day if you’re accepting the new places around you. If you think you’re in the same boring place every day, you will be. If you think you’re in a unique place that has a lot to offer, you’ll find something new and unique every day.