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Hello! It’s Amanda Rosenfeld for one more time. I am now back in Miami from my Dallas adventures through our HKS Xchange Fellowship, and have been super busy with projects, but I want to report back on my last few weeks of this amazing experience.
The last time I wrote was just before our office holiday events, which were so much fun. As I said last time, the whole Southeast region was invited to come to Dallas and celebrate our firm’s successes through this past year. I was so excited to see my coworkers from the Miami and Orlando offices, but I did not realize how much I missed them until they started surprising me at my desk or leaving sticky note messages on my monitors when I was not there. The first day they arrived, we attended a kick-off session to the two-day event, a pechakucha style showcase of our top projects for the year, and a “small” welcome party in which the Southeast region could catch up with people they worked with in different offices and meet new people. The second day started off really early with seminars pertaining to our industry, ranging from Building Information Management (BIM) to Construction Administration (CA). We then all headed to the first of the two main events where we celebrated HKS, how much we have accomplished, and how we are moving forward. Then, if we didn’t think we partied enough, was the actual Holiday Gala- which was so much fun! Everyone was dressed in their finest. We took pictures, ate delicious food, and danced all night long. Several of us left the “Big D” to explore Ft. Worth on Saturday. We went to see the Kimbell Art Museum with the Renzo Piano addition, and the Modern Art Museum by Tadao Ando - it still amazes me when I get to see something in person that I had previously studied in college. I was also able to take them around Dallas- the Nasher Sculpture Garden where we saw a video that explained how and why each piece became part of the Nasher personal collection; the Dallas Farmer’s Market; and Klyde Warren Park to get my oh-so-favorite Koolhaus Ice Cream!
The next weekend was what I have learned to be typical Dallas weather- confusing. It went from being a lovely 70° to 18° (feels like 9°)- a true test to see if this Miami girl could survive a real winter. Since it started off so nice, I decided to go to the Trinity River Audubon Center. Meesha and Charles joined me, and we had a great time, although as we were hanging out the weather changed for the worse, as we ended up being in 30° weather wearing shorts and shortsleeves. As it got colder the following day, I was advised that I should stay indoors (apparently a lot of people knew I was not meant for the cold), but i decided to venture out and go to the Dallas Museum of Art, and was not disappointed. I was able to see Georgia O’Keefe, Monet, Picasso, Mondrain, van der Rohe, and so many other artists and architects that I admire. On the other end of the spectrum, I also was able to experience frozen pipes and fountains, and black ice.
My next, and final, two weeks went by amazingly fast! That Monday was a great and delicious day- the commercial team held their annual holiday pot luckI There was so much food, everyone was enjoying themselves and catching up with other, and the singing was impeccable. Throughout those last two weeks, I was able to meet up with people from the DesignGreen team, the Sustainability Champion Network in Dallas, the Human Resource team, the Model shop guys, the HKS Structural team, the Information Technology group, and the Technical Resources team. It felt like I had no free time, working on my final project in Dallas, while still trying to explore the office to its fullest! And all I can say is each team is so special and impressive in its own way.
My last weekend in Dallas was Christmas weekend, which meant I had a nice 4 day weekend to see a few more places and pack up my things before I left. Luckily one of my best friends from college was able to visit me, and helped me enjoy my last few days in Dallas, and make them as fun as possible. We went to the art museum (again), had Koolhaus ice cream (again!), and tried as many new foods as we could in a short period. I think our favorite part was going to the Dallas World Aquarium - how amazing to pretty much see an indoor jungle in middle of a city block. We went from seeing a sloth and alligator to an octopus, so many colorful fish, and sharks, to a jaguar and an owl eating a mouse. It was crazy! We spent hours there.
By the end of my Xchange everyone had the same question for me-- am I excited to go back? And every time I had the same answer - I had mixed feelings. I had my family, friends, HKS Miami, and sunshine waiting for me back in Florida, but I was also to learn so much more about our firm and the industry we work in. I got a new perspective for how the other sectors work, and how even when being in one area of the firm, you can help out the others. I made new friends, and I was able to experience a different American city, which I had never had the opportunity to do before, and I am able to call a new place home. Dallas.
The top things I learned while on my Xchange: