My name is Rebekah Kane and I study Computer Science at Queen’s University in Belfast. When I applied for my IT internship in China at the beginning of the year, I didn’t think I would get an interview, never mind accepted.
I’d applied after seeing advertisements across the internet. Having read a few of the stories on the blog, I decided to go for it. I knew that having experience in my industry abroad would look amazing on my CV and set me apart from other applicants, but I didn’t realise just how much I would enjoy my time in China.
Choosing My City
The interview process was smooth. Everyone I was in contact with from InternChina and my company was full of information and quick to respond to every one of my questions – and I had a lot.
Out of the cities on offer, I decided to go to Zhuhai. Zhuhai is nestled between Hong Kong and Macau and considered ‘small’ for a city in China. Even though there are 1.7 million people who live and work there, Zhuhai isn’t as overwhelming as the other cities in China and in spite of the constant construction, it does give off a small city vibe.
My Internship and the Culture Shock
I worked in the IT department of an Asian-based western company who specialise in the design, development and distribution of silicone-based products. My daily tasks ranged from working on company databases to exploring the warehouse. Every day was different, and I was exposed to so much more than just the office walls.
There are a lot of culture shocks when you arrive in China. ButI think for me the most prominent misconception I had is that the Chinese work culture would be so intense it would burn me out. The Chinese people work hard, but not in the way that most westerners are used to. From their lunch time office naps (which I am 100% going to make a thing in the UK – or at least try my best) to the casual office wear and constant snacking (this may have just been my company, but again, I’m bringing it home) the work environment in China is, at least in my experience, very relaxed. People get their work done but don’t let it stress them out. Any stresses they do have, they leave in the office before they go home.
Outside of Work
I’ve had some of the best adventures of my life and met some of the most amazing people. On my first weekend in Zhuhai, a few of us headed to Yangshuo by train. We wanted to explore the countryside and escape Typhoon Mangkhut. We expected the typhoon wreak havoc on the city. Thankfully Zhuhai missed the worst of it!
Yangshuo was incredible. We hiked Moonhill, went bamboo rafting, and cycled through rural China. Here we met two Irish lecturers who had also cycled past the road we were all looking for. We also made friends with the hostel kitten, Cino (as in cappuccino). The following weekend we went camping on Wai Lingding island. We set up tents on the beach here and played traditional Chinese games well into the night.
Golden Week in China
During Golden Week, six of us travelled to Guangzhou for two nights. Golden Week in China is a week of Chinese national holidays. When you go to Guangzhou, China’s third largest city, you start to understand why Zhuhai is considered small.
Guangzhou is filled with massive sky scrapers which dance with multi coloured lights all night long. If you ride the metro a few stops outside of the business district you’ll find traditional Chinese temples, streets strung with red lanterns, lined with stalls selling jade and precious stones. It’s the perfect depiction of China – deep-rooted tradition meets cutting-edge modernity.
The Entire Experience
Stepping off the plane at Hong Kong airport, I didn’t know what to expect from my time in China. I figured I’d meet a few cool people and we would go on an adventure or two. Knowing my internship was going to be a great learning curve but thinking that I’d be exhausted every day after coming back from work.
I wish I could go back and tell myself to stop imagining the worst. To embrace every single moment because it goes by so quickly. I can honestly say that in my eight weeks, my professional skills developed massively. I’ve made amazing friends and eaten so much incredible Chinese food that a curry from the local just won’t make the cut anymore. Participating in this programme has enriched my CV and helped me figure out which direction I want my career to take upon graduating.
Before taking part in this internship I thought I would go back to Belfast having had my fill of China, but the experience has convinced me to come back once I graduate. Whether it be teaching English, working with a Chinese company or just travelling through and taking every day as it comes, I know that I’ll be back and I have InternChina and the Generation UK programme to thank for that.