As I boarded the plane at Heathrow heading for China, it finally hit me that I was going to Shenzhen and was going to be working in a country that was completely different in culture, work practices and language compared to the UK. This was the first time I had travelled alone and knew that this was going to be the first of many ‘firsts’ over the next two months.
As I imagine with many other people, I was extremely nervous when I stepped of the plane and headed towards the ferry terminal bound for Shenzhen. Following the clear instructions provided by CRCC Asia, I managed to navigate Hong Kong international airport and got a ferry ticket without a problem. Much of my nerves were extinguished when I noticed the CRCC Asia banner, and a number of smiling CRCC Asia representatives around it, outside the ferry terminal. Once I arrived at the hotel I met other interns, some of who had arrived on the same day and others that had been in Shenzhen for a month or two, and started making friends and connections. As we all had a few days before our work experience started, we had time to get to know each other and start exploring the massive metropolis. Shenzhen is an incredibly modern city; it was only built up in the past thirty or forty years, clean, and busier than any other city I have been too.
My internship took place at an engineering firm called FLypro whom design, innovate and manufacture flying drones for photography. Work was a challenging, fun and rewarding experience. My colleagues welcomed me warmly and quickly integrated me into the team. Every day we would have lunch together, which was a perfect time to get to know more about their individual backgrounds and learn more about Chinese culture from their perspective. I was placed in the research and development department and was given a number of tasks ranging from designing the landing gear; stress testing the wings; and rapid prototyping parts. Gaining valuable experience and skills in using different computer programs and networking with other like-minded engineers. One of the highlights of the experience at Flypro was being invited to a company holiday weekend at the beach. I never imagined my internship would involve playing beach volleyball with the CEO and upper management.
Apart from the great internship placement at Flypro, the social and night life was amazing. Going out with the other interns was always fun and I truly believe I have made friends from all over the world for life. The food does not disappoint and is something I miss everyday now that I am back in the UK. I would definitely recommend trying the spicy chicken feet, it might sound a bit strange but it was incredibly tasty. If you have the time, travelling outside Shenzhen is a must. I spent a weekend in Guangzhou and got the chance to explore an even bigger and older city than Shenzhen. The travelling highlight for me was when I went to Guilin for my last weekend in China. It was a wonderful way to spend my last weekend and I got to see some of the most beautiful scenery in my life so far. Hong Kong is a stone’s throw away from Shenzhen and is another place I would recommend others to explore. I would also recommend getting a multi-entry visa so that you can go visit Hong Kong, Macau and other places around China, it’s definitely worth it.
CRCC Asia’s assistance before, throughout and after the internship has been invaluable. Any issues I had such as how to add credit to my phone, or how to get to places in Shenzhen was quickly solved. CRCC Asia set up Mandarin lessons and weekly activities from volunteering with local youth clubs to KTV, which I thought I would hate but actually found really entertaining-especially after a few drinks. I would certainly never have had the amazing experience I did without the CRCC Asia team and the experience is one I would recommend to anyone without a shadow of doubt.