»A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

It’s already been 18 months since my J1 experience with Architect-US started and I still have the same excitement whenever I explore a new place in The City. I can’t believe how fast time passes by when you have a really good time and you do what you really love. It feels like it was yesterday when I had first arrived, but at the same time I feel like I have lived here my whole life. In spite of living this experience in the middle of a pandemic, I can surely say that I took advantage of all the incredible things the city has to offer as well as the East Coast.

My professional experience

Working at IAE has enabled me to learn a lot about affordable housing on different scales, a field of architecture that was considered essential during these times. At the beginning, everything is new and different from what we are used to back in Europe. One of the main differences is working with the US imperial system and applying the ft, inches and fractions to the building designs.  On the other hand, the type of construction in New Jersey is also something new you have to learn when working on multifamily housing. In a year and a half, I went from drawing existing buildings in the state of NJ and NYC to developing multiple feasibility studies, layouts, and a couple of construction documents in both Revit and Autocad, as well as preparing presentations and renderings using Enscape and Photoshop. The whole working experience nourished me with a valuable knowledge and confidence when approaching any given project. Being able to design and participate in the whole process, and not just being a drafter, made me love and enjoy the work I was doing. Being rotated in the office and having had the chance to work with the partners was an absolute privilege! The atmosphere in the office is an incredible one, where people are willing to teach you and help you whenever you need it. Aside from my work at IAE, I have also had the following opportunities given by our office: going on an architectural boat tour around Manhattan; going on the annual architectural road trip; attending an ice skating event; celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Thanksgiving, End of the year and also End of Summer among other events I might have missed. All this made my whole working experience exceed by far my expectations!

My personal experience

Choosing to live in Hoboken, NJ has enabled me to take advantage of both worlds, New York City and New Jersey. The City absolutely fascinates me, reason why I would live every single moment as if there was no tomorrow. Before the pandemic happened, I was able to attend multiple musicals for a reasonable price. I went for the first time to the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center, as well as different events such as the final at the US Open between Nadal and Medvedev, a baseball and an american football game, a concert at the Madison Square Garden, a famous and well-known show, the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, many museums and architectural gems. Having had the need to get a car in order to make my life easier while living and working in New Jersey, has given me the chance to get a deep insight of the East Coast. As the Covid-19 pandemic forced the lockdown of many public spaces, I was able to explore more outdoor places, such as the Catskills Mountains, Pocono Mountains and the Bushkill Falls, and most of the Jersey Shore and New York Hamptons. Before my visa came to an end, I went on a road trip to Pittsburgh, PA to visit the Fallingwater, the Polymath Park and Kentuck Knob, all of them by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Fallingwater is an absolutely must for any architect while living and working in NYC/NJ, and it surely is an absolutely impressive masterpiece!

Last but not least, I will take a moment to thank Architect-US for giving me such an opportunity to live the american dream in The City that never sleeps! Basically, Architect-US opened a new door for a professional career in the US that changed my life! Now, I have obtained the Waiver for the two year rule on my J1 visa after more than 6 months and I am in the process of obtaining the green card. All of these, would have not been possible without the initial help and support of Architect-US! They give you an incredible opportunity to work and live in the US. Then, it’s up to you to make the most out of this experience! I would recommend Architect-US without a doubt and I cannot thank them well-enough for such an experience! I am looking forward with excitement for the next chapter in my life!

Cristina Marin


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