For me, graduating from university felt a bit like being forced to get out of bed on a chilly winter’s morning: alone, shivering and anxious to get back under the covers. Then again, making the jump from my warm, cosy life as a student to the seemingly cold, icy world of work, paycheques and overtime was never going to be an easy one.
To make that transition a bit more comfortable, after graduating from Edinburgh University in May 2016, I decided to wrap myself in my proverbial pillow and blankets and head across to the sunny isle of Taiwan, to hide from the cold a little while longer. During my 6-month stay studying at Cheng Kung University in Tainan, I wrestled with the infamously mind-boggling yet beautiful traditional Chinese characters, cycled along the remote and rugged Eastern coastline, and tasted the dazzling array of street food as I wandered the night markets of Taipei.
From Cheng-Kung to Chengdu
As my half-year stay drew to a close, I decided it was high time I set myself a real challenge. I had been studying Chinese for four and a half years, and it was time to put it to the test in the workplace. For me, Sichuan and the West of China has always had a certain allure – who could resist the chance to see the far-flung reaches of the Tibetan plateau, to conquer the notoriously numbing Sichuanese peppercorn, or peer in at the leafy home of the Giant Panda? With this in mind, I set my sights for the great Western capital of Chengdu.
To cut a long story short, I scoured the web for opportunities to do a 4-month internship in Chengdu, and no more than 6 weeks later – here I am! I haven’t been in the office very long, but already I feel like I’ve been thoroughly immersed into the local culture and cuisine. In just the few days since I arrived, I’ve been on a trip to Huanglongxi (黄龙溪), an ancient town full of original Qing dynasty architecture, eaten Chongqing Flat Noodles (碗杂面wánzámiàn) and enjoyed a suitably spicy Sichuanese hotpot!
Perhaps more worth noting, however, is how well I have been welcomed into the InternChina family – the friendly and relaxed office atmosphere, communal lunches everyday and general level of support have made my first few days go without a hitch. Even though leaving the comfort and safety of student life and entering the workplace might have felt like a cold winter’s morning to begin with, I’m already starting to feel the warmth come back to my toes…or maybe that’s just the hotpot.
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