What is your name, age, educational background, and professional industry?
My name is Stacey Giunta, I am 20 years old and I am currently a fourth year student at the University of Western Australia. I’m studying Law and Arts, with a major in French.
What program are you doing with CRCC Asia?
I am doing the one-month China Internship Program in Beijing. I am interning at a law firm.
Where are you from?
I am from Perth, Western Australia.
How is Beijing alike and/or different from your home city?
Its fair to say that compared to Perth, Beijing is extremely different!
There are masses of people everywhere all the time, most notably on the subway, which I don’t think I would ever get used to! It’s every man for themselves when in transit, and I’m just lucky that I’m always in a puffy jacket, which provides a protective layer when squeezing into the carriage.
Cultural differences such as spitting and snorting are interesting habits, which take a bit of getting used to!
What Perth dubs ‘Chinese cuisine’ is something totally unauthentic! The food here is incredible, and I have learnt that sometimes you have to get a little out of your comfort zone to experience true Chinese dishes.
Although there is western food around (fast food joints, pizzas, burgers etc.) there aren’t many international options as there would be in Perth such as Indian, Italian, Greek, Japanese, and Turkish etc. Many of the Chinese people I have met have never tasted international cuisine. I would put this down to the well-founded Chinese culture. Australia is such a young country in comparison and as a result doesn’t have a cuisine of its own to protect and celebrate! If I were Chinese I, too, wouldn’t see the need for any other cuisine!
The weather is hugely different. In Perth, winter weather will get to 14° Celsius (54° Fahrenheit) at most, whereas in Beijing it is well below 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit). Additionally, Perth is currently experiencing temperatures of 45° Celsius (113° Fahrenheit) so the transition between climates has been difficult. I’ve been walking around with multiple layers of clothes, and am covered head to toe, with only my eyes visible- I must look like such a foreigner.
What kind of work are you doing at your internship?
At my host company, I am doing a range of things including drafting correspondence to international law firms, reviewing contracts, reviewing the firm newsletter and conducting legal research. I have also been given a main project of re-writing sections of the firm’s website in English. The website was really lacking detailed information and didn’t fully reflect the capacity of the firm. I have just sent off the first drafts to the senior partners to review and am waiting to hear back.
The project has been a great way for me to learn about the firm, Chinese law generally, and the way in which the company interacts with international companies, clients and other law firms.
The professional relationships I have made in Beijing may also continue back at home as well, as my supervisor is looking to set up a Chinese legal blog for foreign (US) businesses which he hopes I can write for. This is an exciting prospect!
What other things have you been doing outside of work while in Beijing?
There is so much to do after work, especially for an intern who is here for just one month! On weeknights, all the interns usually get together for dinner somewhere, head out to explore the streets, go for a drink or visit the markets of Wangfujing! Time on the weekend is spent travelling to the ‘must-see’ tourist sights of Beijing including Lama Temple, the 798 Art District, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace… the list goes on.
A highlight would certainly be travelling to Mutianyu to see the Great Wall. We had a clear winter day, and once we reached the top you could see for miles! It’s an experience I won’t ever forget.
What do you think you are learning or gaining from the program?
The program has taught me many things about China, work ethics and myself.
My pre-conceptions about China were challenged, and although I haven’t experienced rural or more traditional China, I have a better understanding of the legal system and the obstacles it poses for Chinese lawyers and international investors or companies. The lawyers I work with are very open and are happy to express the challenges of the legal structures in China, as well as discussing the country’s progress and transition into the international arena.
I have learnt that there is a different kind of work ethic in Beijing. At the company, there are various teams of lawyers who work under boss, each person working collaboratively with each other. There is no real individual work or any team leader. I was very intrigued to observe and be a part of this system.
And finally, being immersed into Beijing, a city where almost everything is foreign has forced me to rely on my own initiative and self-confidence to make the most of my time! I love meeting people, learning about their lives and where they are from, so meeting a living with the interns as well as working with the lawyers are situations I really enjoy!
What was the most surprising thing about the program and/or Beijing?
I was really surprised by all the English signs around Beijing, I wasn’t expecting so many. This was a great surprise!
I also wasn’t expecting so many organised events by CRCC, which are amazing. So far we have had a KTV night, language classes, seen an acrobatic show, business event, and have an upcoming volunteering event. These events are great ways to learn something new and catch up with the interns.
What has been the best thing about the program and/or Beijing?
It’s hard to decide what the best thing about Beijing is; I don’t think I could isolate a single experience. Collectively, each experience adds to my impression of Beijing and I have found it to be a thrilling and fascinating place. The historical aspect of the city probably interests me the most, I just love being able to travel and see historical landmarks and beautiful, intricate architecture.
The best part of the program is, without surprise, the other interns. The program has brought together like-minded people, making my fellow interns my family away from home. It is a really comforting experience.
When you leave, what will you miss most about the city?
When I leave, I’ll miss the excitement and the pace of life in Beijing. There is always something going on, somewhere new to eat or drink at, and something new to learn.
What are your plans/aspirations after you finish your internship?
My plan after I finish the internship is to finish my combined degrees. I don’t like to think or plan ahead at all as life is so unpredictable and plans change all the time. You could say that I plan not to have a plan and continue to do things I am inspired by or have a real passion in. Who knows, I may even end up back in China one day!
Do you have any final impressions of CRCC Asia that you would like to add?
So far, my experience of interning in Beijing would not have been possible without the guidance, organisation and reassurance that CRCC has provided. The team have surpassed my expectations and I would recommend everyone considering travelling to China for an internship to go with CRCC!