Life starts at the end of one’s comfort zone. And nowhere is further from one’s comfort zone than China. New culture, new experience, new people. Everything is staggeringly unexpected.
Some things you will like, others not as much, but you will always learn. Life is not perfect – neither at home, nor in China. But travelling makes you a better person.
I took the Intensive Chinese Language Program and then completed the China Internship Program, working at UTS WorldWide. Both experiences were amazing.
By the end of the first month I was able to place my orders in restaurants and ask for directions, which is extremely helpful in Beijing. Studying Chinese really made me appreciate how difficult it must be for Chinese people to learn English. And it is addictive, too. I remember spending afternoons on my bed with a notebook trying to replicate the hieroglyphs I saw here and there… Besides, you do make some friends when you spend every morning of a month together.
At UTS WorldWide, working in a completely new environment was invaluable. My supervisor was a cheerful young lady who was quite uneasy in my presence because in Chinese culture it is not widely accepted for a lady to be a superior of a gentleman. After having spent a couple of days easing into work I took the initiative and sent her an e-mail (this is how people communicate in China, although they sit right across the table from one another) asking whether I could be of any help. Long story short, this is when my exceptional experience started. Within the four weeks of my internship, I completed four major projects and several minor ones. I also attended meetings with clients, completed an e-learning course of managerial level and took a day off. The reason I am saying this is, one needs to put oneself forward. You get as much out of the experience as you put in. Keep this in mind.
Another thing I found rather surprising was the lunch break culture. It could easily go on for two-three hours and after everyone is done dining they take a readily available pillow and take a nap right upon their desks. I gladly joined this proud tradition.
There are infinite other peculiarities most of which I have probably not experienced. Probably China is hiding other surprises for you.
Last but not least, the entity of CRCC interns was astonishing. We were living in gated communities sheltered from all street dangers. Maids would take care of our cleanliness daily. All that was left to us was having fun. Not surprisingly, by the end of the first night we had already been to a Japanese restaurant and a ‘KTV’ (karaoke bar), we had exchanged business cards (you get them on arrival) and we had made plans for the following days. The organisation was quite remarkable, really. And also, having passed the thorough selection process, you can be sure that people you are going to meet are ambitious, intelligent, cultured, and interesting. Whether you like them or not, they will inevitably enrich you.
And, don’t forget, the whole reason for going abroad is exploring. Do the travelling. Embrace the local culture as odd as it may seem. Be part of it. Contribute.