6 months ago I went on a mission to explore a culture that had only recently been on my radar. I was always fascinated with the Middle Kingdom but I honestly would never have seen myself living and working in China for half a year. With no idea of what to expect, or how comfortable I’d feel and how I’d cope with a working environment I’d heard to be entirely different to what I was familiar with, I accepted the challenge in July 2015.
As on every journey, you have your highs and you have your lows. However, as I look back, my time went by in the blink of an eye and it’s truly been a blast. I fell in love with this country and this will be the first of many more experiences in indescribable China.
Moreover, I cannot put into words, how grateful I am to InternChina for taking me on and giving me the opportunity to be part of the family. I’m not going to lie, especially in the busy summer it is a 24/7 position, but the work experience I gained – in the marketing, design and the business development sector – is something I absolutely would not have wanted to miss. Getting out of your comfort zone and acquiring new skills, while focusing on your own strengths and weaknesses is something not every employer can offer!
Now, I’m going to take you with me on my InternChina adventure.
I’m still convinced the first month didn’t have 4 weeks… it went by so quickly. The weather was hot and humid at that time but that didn’t stop us from hiking to a waterfall, visiting Shenzhen, a weekend trip on Wailing Ding Dao and going to Foshan -> This was the first trip I organised together with my PTA (Personal Travel Adviser) Janice, which ended up in a bubble war between us (20 international students) and 3000 Chinese Citizens armed with water guns.
Month two was also not lacking in events. I had the honour of giving a hand to Zhuhai Office Manager Paul Bailey, AKA Bruce, in the organisation of the 4th annual ‘Come Together Charity Music Festival’ held at the Beishan Theatre in Zhuhai. I was also directly involved on the big day itself and it was a great success – the total money raised in 2015: RMB 300,002.98 (USD 47,170 | GBP 31,000). That wasn’t it for this month: it was my birthday (thanks for the Hellokitty birthday cheese cake Leo!), we explored Guangzhou, hiked up to the Fishergirl’s husband in Zhuhai, went wild water-rafting and tested our taekwondo skills.
October also proved be a very busy month and I honestly have no idea how all of this fit into a single month, but I worked it out eventually: Zhangjiajie, Calligraphy & Tea Ceremony day, Halloween in Foshan, Hiking to Jintai Temple and relaxing in Zhuhai’s Hot Springs, Macau and Shanghai. Not to forget about my first Haircut and KTV experience in China.
And there it already was: halftime… Most of the people who had arrived in Zhuhai around the same time as me had finished their 2-3 month internships and the atmosphere in Zhuhai was now different, but a just as fun time had started. It was at this point that Zhuhai started feeling like home and the initial excitement eased into a more settled and cultural-focused phase. The activity list was still just as big though: a DIY Beijing Opera masks event, Yangshuo, the CPAZ Charity day, and a wonderful weekend with Janice and her family (thank you for being such a good friend and partner in crime).
Here, I also have to mention that the new IC intern and roomie Nadia arrived. I couldn’t have asked for better company and now that we even have the same laugh, it’s time for me to leave #yaaaaas.
In December I had the chance to visit the InternChina Qingdao office and directly work with the on-site team there for about 2 weeks. It was great getting to know everyone in person and thanks to the cold weather it actually felt like Christmas was approaching. Furthermore, Joe and his little elf Jack outdid themselves with the Christmas turkey! It was a dream!
This was followed by a weekend trip to Beijing, Archery, a night in Hong Kong and a cozy Christmas feast at FBB in Zhuhai.
Today on my last day, after sitting for 6 months on my orange chair by the window with the greatest view over Zhuhai, I can’t believe that it’s time to leave and to say good bye to an amazing team… 2016 is off to a great start already. I have learnt how to make dumplings so I can continue my addiction after I return from China, we travelled to Danxia mountain in Shaoguan and it was simply a great time hanging out with all the people I know so well here..
Before I get too sentimental, this is the end. The end of a successful mission! Thanks to everyone who crossed my path and has made it an unforgettable experience!
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The fact that we weren’t up until 8am in the morning in the Shanghai nightlife like we had planned did have a silver lining, in that waking up early(ish) was not a struggle! The next place we wanted to visit was the Former French Concession area so we took a taxi for 18rmb from the Bund. This is a hugely sought after area to live in for expats of China because of its incredible history, beauty and abundance of shopping (Huaihai Road), dining and clubbing (Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang) destinations.
Afterwards, we decided to take the metro for 3rmb to Jing’an Temple on West Nanjing Road. My first impression was that this historical temple was slightly out of place in the concrete jungle that is Shanghai [Entrance was 50rmb] and upon entering the temple courtyard, you could certainly feel a sense of peaceful escapism.
By this time the sun had set and we were exhausted… but like the stubborn interns we are, we decided to push on to the next destination – People’s Square, at the end of East Nanjing Road. This was another relaxing break from the hectic Shanghai streets and a nice walk.
Once we got back to the hostel, it was just a matter of counting down the time until the night began. The first place we headed to was Muse (On The Bund) which was a club I can definitely recommend with a large amount of fellow travellers going there. We attempted to go to the upmarket Bar Rouge afterwards, but sadly not everyone was dressed quite up to scratch. [Tip: Don’t wear shorts on a night out in Shanghai]. Being turned away from upmarket Bar Rouge did have a sense of serendipity to it though, as it prompted us to head to Hollywood, a more streetwise R&B club with a good buzz about it.
On our final full day we got on a ferry from the Bund for 2rmb and crossed the river to Pudong, where the huge skyscrapers are. This was a great place to walk around due to the obscenity of the monstrous buildings and the picturesque Lujiazui ring road. From there we headed to the Aquarium [Entrance was 160rmb] – just an average aquarium in my opinion, nothing special.
Our main aim for the day was to hit the tallest observatory tower in the world though– Shanghai World Financial Center ‘The Bottle Opener’ [Entrance was 180rmb or 120 with a student card]. 100 floors up, we could see this incredible city in its entirety (albeit through the smog). We stayed here from 5pm when it was still daylight and waited for night to set in and the skyline lights to appear at 7pm, something I would certainly recommend.
Our final night out in Shanghai took us to a nice foreigner-filled bar called Perry’s Café, a great place to start the night with cheap beers for 10rmb and mixer buckets for 45rmb. We then headed to a neighbouring club – Maya, which had a more local scene to it.
When we woke up in the morning, it was just a matter of grabbing some souvenirs from East Nanjing Road and then taking the metro and Magnetic levitation train (which can reach 430kmph) to the airport for our flight back – No delay this time!
The week as a whole was incredible, as a city lover, it had everything that I wanted. So if you ever find yourself in China for an internship or simply for travelling, go live it up in Shanghai!
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