All good things come to an end… goes a saying. When I arrived in China the first time in 2009, I was a student. I had booked an internship with InternChina in Qingdao for 5 months – not really sure what to expect! The internship description was relatively vague but sounded like a good challenge and I was supposed to live with a Chinese family. What would it be alike? I was confronted with a mix of feelings: curiosity, excitement and a bit of anxiety.
When I got out the airport in Beijing the first time, it was freezing cold. Middle of March the temperature usually still ranges around zero in North China. I got my warm coat out of the suitcase, did all the sightseeing, gained a lot of new friends and after five days I was ready to move on to Qingdao.
I went by fast train and it took me five hours. I will never forget how I arrived in Qingdao: a beautiful sunny but cold and windy day. My first day at the host-family was strange: because it was early afternoon only the grandma was at home, watching TV having her feet on the couch table and making jiaozi. She was laughing at me because I didn’t understand her Yintaihua on the first day! I kept sitting on the couch and offered my help, trying to follow the Chinese soap operas on TV – but useless – of course I was a guest, so no chance to help.
In the evening I got to know the rest of my family: my 12 year old brother and my host-parents. It was overwhelming, they were so nice and curious (but shy) to get to know me.
My first weekend in China was already filled with peculiarity: my host-brother convinced me to eat a table-tennis ball sized (!!!) fish eye and I was friendly offered a fork in the restaurant when I accidentally dropped an oily peanut with my slippery metal chopsticks.
My first internship day I will also never forget: I decided to walk along the beach for an hour to the office – it was a great choice: streets were not too cramped with cars, so the air was fresh and clean, the sun was shining and fresh breeze blew along the seaside.
Qingdao was showing itself from its best side! However, finding the office ended up in an odyssey and when I finally arrived at InternChina I was warmly welcomed by the whole team who was expecting me already. Not knowing that this is the same place where I would come back two years later!
Well, what shall I say… five months internship in Qingdao went by quickly. I used another two months to explore the rest of China and went to Xi’an, Chengdu, Guilin, Hongkong, Xiamen, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai – it was a breathtaking trip full of joyful moments. I left China with millions of beautiful memories, lots of new friends and the offer to come back any time.
I took this chance after my graduation and started working for InternChina in Qingdao as an office manager in 2011! Later, I moved to Chengdu to take on a new responsibility by setting up the third office for InternChina!
It always has been a rewarding time – my last three years with InternChina were filled with the most beautiful, the saddest and the most exciting moments in my life. I grew personally, professionally and surely emotionally. Three years China definitely left a mark on me forever, I will never forget how crazy, contradictious and beautiful this country and its people are!
To InternChina I am just grateful for giving me the chance to experience such a great opportunity of growth and success, for meeting so many awesome people and seeing so many exciting places.
Leaving China is at least as emotional as starting in China: I am ready for a new adventure in my life but I am leaving with a mix of feelings again: curiosity, excitement and full of gratitude!
Xiexie 谢谢, InternChina and Zai Jian 再见!