Firstly, I would like thank InternChina for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of visiting China. This was something I never thought I’d be able to afford due to the financial barriers. With the funding from the British Council it helped make my dreams a reality.
I decided to apply for the programme for many reasons. I wanted to visit China, I was keen to broaden my cultural intelligence, I wanted to meet people from all over the world and I was keen to work in an environment different to what I was used to in the UK. The Generation UK programme offered all of this in one experience. Initially I thought applying for the programme would be like a holiday. I also thought it would look good on my CV. But after reading reviews and information on the programme I knew I would gain so much more than that.
I have always been independent. I moved out at 18 and had two jobs from as far back as I can remember. With this it is has been difficult to commit to extracurricular activities that help me towards my career goals. I always went were the money was to live a comfortable life. Applying for this programme allowed me to put my busy life on hold for a few months and focus on me.
Arrival in China and the Internship Experience
When I arrived in China I was extremely nervous. I was instantly put at ease by the staff at my programme who ensured all my worries and queries were dealt with. There was definitely an equal balance of work and leisure which made going to work more enjoyable.
My internship was in a tourist complex which was in the process of opening a new model train museum. I was responsible for the marketing. This allowed me to use my core skills learned from my university degree in a practical setting. It also allowed me to see what it is like to work in a Chinese company and how that differs to the UK. The majority of staff in my workplace could not speak English which made work challenging on occasions. But I made some lifelong friends.
Challenges in China
There were some minor challenges I found when living and working in China. Missing my family was definitely one. And being in a country where you cannot speak the language can be lonely. However, having the other interns around me who were going through the same thing helped. Communicating with the locals was sometimes a little difficult. But I was able to use a translation application and learnt some basic Chinese from my colleagues in work.
I was surprised at how “ahead” the Chinese are. The technology blew my mind and made me excited for what the future holds for the rest of the world. I was also pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the Chinese were to westerners. They were keen to learn from me. I was also super keen to learn from them, in terms of their working practices and from their culture.
Reflections on My Time in China
Since returning home from China, it is safe to say I have the China blues. I reflect on the experience daily and since returning to university I feel more mature and in control of my studies and my future.
I’ve learned a lot from my time in China and I am eager to return to explore more of the country. I now know that I am keen to move out of the UK when I graduate, spending my summer in China made me realise I can do that. Again, I cannot thank InternChina and the Generation UK programme enough for helping me follow one of my dreams and meet some fantastic people.
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.
As my last year at university was quickly ticking away, I was still undecided as to what I wanted to do after I graduated. With a family member working for the British Council, I decided to look on their website to gain an insight to the kind of careers they offer. This was where I found the Generation UK – China internship opportunity.
I had mentioned the programme to my career mentor, who had previously completed a one-month internship herself. She highly recommended it to me as I was in a place where I wanted to gain some work experience as well as travel experience – so it was the ideal combination!
Coming from a business background, China was incredibly appealing. It’s booming economy, fast growing consumer market and flourishing business base, to name a few aspects. I thought that this opportunity would be incredibly beneficial. Not only for my work experience, but also for my personal growth as an individual.
Living in China
Living in China has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life so far. From day one, I found myself out of my comfort zone. Instantly having to adapt to all aspects of everyday life. You soon become an expert using chop sticks! Talking of food, this has to be one of my favourite things about Chinese culture. Ordering multiple dishes to share at lunch/dinner time is something foodies like me certainly take a liking to straight away.
Not only this, but Chinese people are unbelievably friendly. They would go the extra mile for you once you form a friendship with them. A couple of us had a small restaurant we ate at regularly. One evening we asked if they did an aubergine dish, they said yes of course. We then saw them run to the shop to buy aubergine and cooked us the most delicious dish from scratch off their own backs! It truly is all about networking in China. Whilst in work, even when my supervisor was out in meetings, the office would always include me in their lunch plans and make me feel so welcome and at home.
Working in China
Working in the office was very different to working in an office back in the UK. To begin with, it is perfectly acceptable to get your head down and nap in the middle of the day! Arriving to work late and shouting over each other across the room was also never questioned.
As I was working in an International Trading Company, owned by a Danish man, sometimes there was a conflict between the ‘Western’ way to do things and the ‘Chinese’ way. Reaching an agreement that was an acceptable compromise between both was often easier said than done.
It was key to understand each other’s needs in order to find a resolution to the problem that would be acceptable by both cultures. Working life in China was very much similar to their everyday life – very laid back and relaxed, yet incredibly successful.
There are some things in China that can be difficult to get used to. As you walk down the streets of Zhuhai, you would often hear the acceptable sound of people spitting. And quite frequently get stared at from the local people. Yet you soon understand that it is pure fascination and you will regularly receive compliments all day long. “So beautiful” is quite a common one.
You also soon get used to locals either trying to get a sneaky photo of you. Or asking you straight up if they can have a photo with you. Again, this is something that made me feel quite uncomfortable at the start, but you soon embrace the attention. The language barrier was a challenge and sometimes a barrier to forming networks.
I was incredibly lucky to have met a friend who spoke fluent Mandarin and therefore not only did it help my time in China, but I also managed to pick up some small phrases to help me get by. Despite being based in a city that is considered ‘small’ in China terms, it was still very busy in my ‘small UK village’ terms! Rush hour on the buses was always great fun as you squeeze onto the tiniest spaces surrounded by quite often sweaty people or rainy umbrellas.
Because of this, bikes were a popular alternative for transport as I soon found out with the bells constantly ringing even if their path was clear – I think some liked making a song as they rode by.
What I Have Learned
Even with the incredible challenges I experienced in China, by the end of my time there I really began to embrace the differences. And those things that would have affected me when I first arrived wouldn’t affect me so much now.
I feel the Generation UK – China programme has allowed me to grow as an individual. It has allowed me to become more adaptable and resilient. Not only this, but my internship work itself developed my knowledge of business relations between China and other countries in terms of importing goods into their country. I also created a website for my company which was something I never knew I could do!
I still remain in close contact with my supervisor as I manage the website from the UK. During my time completing the programme, I was incredibly lucky to have made the most of my weekends. I visited Guangzhou and Yangshuo, followed by Macau and Hong Kong after my internship. Each destination provided a different aspect of the Chinese culture in their own unique way.Having participated in the Generation UK – China programme, I would most definitely recommend it. Especially to anyone wishing to develop both their business and personal experience. It has been such an incredible opportunity for me. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in it.
Over the years, InternChina has amassed an alumni network of thousands of people. Some of our former participants have returned to the UK and secured prestigious graduate jobs. Many have taken up jobs in Asia and others have travelled the world. We love to hear about our alumni and what they are up to. So, naturally we were delighted to recently hear from Abi Prendergast, who has followed her dreams of being a writer internationally after completing an InternChina programme in 2017. Abi has told us all about her experience in Zhuhai, and how it helped her to realise an ambition that she could only once dream of.
Here is her story.I am a former University of Sussex student and completed an internship with InternChina in 2017. I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for the amazing opportunity.
Since graduating, I have set up my own business as a content writer and I am now traveling the world. I work with clients from all different fields. And I have been able to do this thanks to the company I interned with. Amazingly, they allowed me to continue working from them remotely. This helped me get the confidence to approach other companies and by the time I graduated, I already had enough clients to make writing my full time profession.
It has been nearly two years since I left for China. I still do regular work for Delta Bridges remotely, although they are no longer my sole client. I am planning on meeting them soon for dinner in South East China. I can’t wait to see them all again and do some more networking.
It has been my dream to write and to travel since I was in school, however, I never thought it would be possible. Especially not a few months after graduating. The internship has shown me what is possible and has given me the confidence to do what I love and the experience to go with it. I have networked with other companies I met during my internship and have ongoing work from other media outlets in China. So it’s all been very exciting!
So overall, I just wanted to say thank you, because InternChina has changed my life. I am forever grateful to everyone who was involved in making the experience possible for First Generation Scholars at the University of Sussex. I could never have anticipated being where I am now.
– Abi Pendergast: InternChina 2017 Alumni
Vous connaissez tous notre slogan, mais qu’est-ce que cela signifie réellement et implique pour vous? Dîners hebdomadaires, activités et support 24h / 24 et 7j / 7 font partie de la réponse!
Je suis stagiaire chez InternChina depuis bientôt 2 mois, donc je vais clarifier les choses pour vous !
Vous aurez l’occasion de découvrir la Chine et son environnement des affaires pendant votre programme ici. Mais vous pourrez aussi expérimenter de nombreuses choses propres à Zhuhai. Notre équipe InternChina organise chaque semaine des dîners et des activités pour votre bien-être et votre divertissement! En outre, cela nous permet de mieux vous connaître et de connaître vos préférences. Cela nous permettra de rendre votre séjour dans ce nouveau pays aussi confortable que possible. Ce sera aussi pour vous une opportunité de rencontrer des gens adorables venus du monde entier! Si vous souhaitez voyager, nous avons beaucoup de destinations incroyables proches de Zhuhai que nous pouvons vous aider à visiter.
Organiser des dîners, des activités et des voyages pour nos participants fait partie de mon travail en tant que stagiaire pour InternChina à Zhuhai.
Lisez ce blog et vous saurez ce que vous pourrez attendre de notre équipe, ce que vous pourrez faire et explorer dans la ville. À la fin, vous vous sentirez comme un local de Zhuhai!
Bien sûr, si vous avez des suggestions d’activités ou de voyages autour de Zhuhai, faites-en part à quelqu’un de notre équipe! Nous ferons de notre mieux pour répondre à vos souhaits!
Chaque semaine, nous organisons l’un de nos fameux “dîners du jeudi”.
C’est un événement social, pour partager un repas de groupe, découvrir la cuisine asiatique et parler de notre semaine! Nous comprenons que vous êtes étudiants, alors ne vous inquiétez pas, nous essayons de rendre ces dîners abordables! Nous nous en tenons généralement à un budget de 50RMB par personne, voir parfois encore moins.
Comment organisons-nous ces dîners? Habituellement, nous créons un post sur notre compte officiel Zhuhai InternChina WeChat, ou nous publions un post dans notre chat de groupe IC Zhuhai.
Nous vous donnerons plus de détails sur le restaurant, la cuisine, la nourriture, l’heure et l’emplacement du dîner. Si vous êtes intéressés pour venir, alors rejoignez simplement le groupe de dîner en scannant le code QR fourni! Cela nous aide à savoir combien de personnes sont attendus, ce qui facilite les réservations au restaurant ! Pendant l’été, il arrive que plus de 30 personnes rejoignent le dîner !
En somme, tout ce que vous avez à faire est de scanner le code QR et de nous rejoindre! Ça ne pourrait pas être plus facile!
Après une semaine de travail intense pendant votre stage, nous savons que vous aurez tout à fait envie de profiter d’activités et de voyages amusants pendant le week-end. Avec toutes les possibilités qu’offre la ville, vous ne vous ennuierez jamais à Zhuhai. IC organise également beaucoup d’activités et de voyages autour de Zhuhai, car nous savons que l’exploration de la Chine et de sa culture est un must.
Nous essayons d’organiser une nouvelle activité tous les week-ends. Comme pour les dîners, nous essayons de nous assurer que ces activités soient toutes abordables afin que vous puissiez y participer autant que vous le pouvez.
Qu’est-ce que Zhuhai a à offrir? Il y a beaucoup d’activités touristiques amusantes, telles que la route des amoureux, la statue de la Fischer Girl, la plage de Jida, l’aquarium Chimelong, l’opéra, le marché souterrain de Gongbei et les nombreux temples. Nous voulons également vous permettre de voir la beauté naturelle de Zhuhai! Les activités de plein air telles que l’exploration des îles de Zhuhai, la randonnée, les cascade, le tir à l’arc, le paint-ball sont toujours des activités populaires, surtout pendant l’été.
Il est important que vous apprivoisiez la culture chinoise pendant votre stage. C’est pourquoi nous organisons donc des activités culturelles telles que de la calligraphie, des cours de cuisine chinoise, des cérémonies de thé, ou même des leçons de Tai Chi!
Selon les saisons, vous pourrez également assister au festival Cixi en août ou à des cérémonies d’ouverture!
Vous ne vous ennuierez jamais avec les nombreuses activités disponibles pour explorer la ville, vous amuser et réseauter!
Nous essayons également d’organiser des week-ends à la découverte d’autres villes chinoises.
Récemment, nous avons organisé un voyage d’un week-end à Tangkou, village classé parmi les sites du patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO! Par le passé, nous avons également organisé des voyages à Pékin, Hezhou, Shanghai et Yangshuo … les possibilités sont infinies!
Pour tout voyage de week-end que nous organisons, nous vous fournirons un calendrier détaillé afin que vous puissiez profiter au maximum de votre temps dans chaque ville! Nous vous indiquerons également le coût de chaque voyage, comprenant le transport, l’hébergement et les activités pour la fin de semaine. Le coût sera plus élevé que pour une activité simple, mais l’exploration et la découverte d’autres lieux en Chine en vaut largement le coût.
Notre équipe IC vous offre leur support 24h/24, 7 j/7. Nous sommes présents à chaque étape de votre séjour en Chine, avant, pendant et après!
Dès votre arrivée, nous viendrons vous chercher à l’aéroport ou au port et nous vous conduirons à votre logement (appartement ou famille d’accueil). Nous vous fournirons également une orientation pour vous aider à comprendre la culture chinoise et vous donner quelques conseils sur la vie à Zhuhai.
Votre kit de bienvenue vous attendra! Il comprend une carte SIM, une carte de voyage, une carte de la ville, une carte d’adresse et quelques goodies InternChina! Tout ce dont vous avez besoin pour vos débuts en Chine.
Chaque fois que vous aurez besoin de nous, n’hésitez pas à nous le faire savoir, nous serons heureux de vous aider!
Notre équipe sur place est également toujours là pour vous soutenir! Nous aurons toujours beaucoup de conseils et d’informations à partager avec vous. De plus, si vous vous sentez malade, nous vous accompagnerons à l’hôpital! Si vous avez d’autres problèmes, nous sommes là pour vous aider si nous le pouvons!
Quand vous débarquez à Zhuhai, et que vous ne savez pas où aller ou quoi explorer, nous sommes là pour vous proposer des lieux où aller! Voici une liste de nos lieux préférés! Vous pourrez ainsi impressionner vos collègues, les inviter et étaler vos connaissances sur Zhuhai !
- HuoGongDian 殿 工 殿 – Tentez la nourriture du Hunan du nord de la Chine! Le Hong Shao Rou (红烧肉) est censé être le plat préféré du président Mao. Cet endroit est un must pour les grands dîners, la nourriture est excellente. Adresse: 珠海 市 香洲 区 石 花 西路 62 号 (近 白莲 洞 公园) ou descendez du bus à 伙 工 殿 大厦 (huo gong dian da sha).
- The London Lounge – Bar très populaire parmi les expatriés. Leurs employés chinois et occidentaux sont toujours prêts à faire une blague. De plus, les sessions Open-Mic le 2e jeudi du mois valent le détour! Lieu: Côte Est, Jida
- FBB Fresh Burger Bar – Un bar et restaurant allemand situé à Jida. Ici vous pouvez obtenir de nombreux plats et boissons occidentaux (surtout allemands)! Il y a une large gamme de bières allemandes disponibles! Descendez du bus à 水湾头” “Shuǐ wān tóu” ou dites-le au chauffeur de taxi!
- GongBei Underground Market – Pour tous les accros du shopping, il y a un marché souterrain à Gongbei où vous pouvez obtenir tous vos vêtements de créateurs de marque à des prix étrangement bon marché. On y trouve aussi des enseignes occidentales (H & M, Vera Moda, Only , etc.) dans les centres commerciaux.
J’espère que ces détails et ces photos vous ont convaincu qu’InternChina propose bien plus qu’un simple stage! Vous ne vous sentirez jamais seul, et cette expérience restera inoubliable! Le moyen le plus simple de nous rejoindre est de postuler dès maintenant!
On May 8th 2018 more than 30 representatives from CPAZ, CTC & InternChina visited the Pingsha Experimental Primary School to distribute funds raised at the Come Together Charity Music Festival 2017 and provide care packs to a total of 50 disadvantaged students.
The bursary money totalled 82,500 RMB, meaning over 1500 RMB was raised for each child in need!
This is CPAZ’s 12th year in a row working with families to support the education of those in need in Pingsha, and the 5th year that the CTC – Come Together Charity Music Festival has raised money for CPAZ’s mission. The day started when representatives of CTC and CPAZ distributed a total of 82,500 RMB to 50 local children in need.
The bursary for each child was 1,500 RMB, along with a care package which including a backpack and school supplies. Afterwards, representatives split into groups to visit some of the families who receive the bursary.
Come Together Community
Come Together Community (CTC) is made up of a collection of like-minded fellows who care about the community, helping out, and making a difference. The founders of CTC have collectively lived in Zhuhai and China for over 40 years, and consider Zhuhai home.
InternChina is a proud sponsor of CTC, and also one of the official organisers of CTC’s annual charity music festival each year, Come Together. The aim of the NGO is to help people in Zhuhai by uniting the expat and local communities to fundraise for charitable causes and local philanthropies.
Come Together Music Festival
In November 2017, the 6th annual Come Together Charity Music Festival was held. It was an extremely successful event, with a total of 900+ people attending and raising a total of 255,000 RMB. The event has volunteers, bands and sponsor work alongside food and beverage vendors, the schools, the venue and more local groups to raise money for local children in need.
As CTC firmly believes transparency is of utmost importance, you can view all the income and expenses of the Come Together Music Festival 2017 here to see how they got the total amount of 255,000 RMB.
The Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai (CPAZ) is a registered CSO (Civil Society Organisation) in China. They work to promote social activism and public welfare with the aim of providing compassionate assistance to vulnerable sectors of society. They operate a range of projects with the aim of helping financially destitute, disadvantaged people and particularly young students living as orphans or with single parents.
Want to experience charity events like these yourself? APPLY NOW!
What is KTV?
KTV/卡拉OK (KalaOK) is a staple of Chinese nightlife. Your Chinese friends and work colleagues may invite you out to what is basically a nightclub to Karaoke. You’ll pay for a room usually for at least a few hours and then you get to sing, drink and dance the night away!
My first KTV
I first went to KTV almost 4 years ago. I had just arrived in Nanjing and was still getting used to the culture shock of living in China, when before I knew what was happening a bunch of us were heading out to a KTV. The experience was intense, it started off with our two Chinese friends each singing a Chinese pop ballad extremely well, which would make most people feel nervous.
Luckily for me this was also my first time trying 白酒 (baijiu) – Chinese rice wine, which took the edge off! Soon we were all mumbling along to the pop songs we knew most of the words to and by the end we were singing full belt to Queen. We left at 5 am, after close to 6 hours of singing. It was one of my fondest memories of my first time in China and since then has become one of my favourite pastimes.
Some people’s Marmite
Love it or hate it KTV, can certainly make or break friendships. Often the first-time can be nerve-racking, and whether you need some liquid courage or just the support of friends, it’s important that everyone feels relaxed and not judged, as at the end of the day 90% of people don’t have golden pipes! You’ll probably discover who is accepting of other people’s music taste and who presses the skip button when they don’t like something. Most importantly you’re not auditioning for The Voice, so the emphasis is on fun!
What to expect
There is a plethora of choice when it comes to KTV. Sometimes it will be a palatial structure full of mirrors and disco lights, or sometimes it is just a simple affair with a cosier feel. Based on how much you are willing to pay you can book a small room or a huge auditorium with a balcony. You pay for the room, so the more of you there are, the cheaper it will be!
They may provide you with drinks and even food for free. There may be instruments such as tambourines and maracas in the room and even a bar and toilet. KTVs will have Western songs, however the choice may vary from just famous pop songs all the way through to a vast collection of classics!
KTVs in Zhuhai
Usually it is helpful to get a Chinese friend to help you book a KTV in advance, so that you don’t get there and find it is fully booked!
Below is a list of some of the best KTVs to visit in Zhuhai:
- GTWO 量贩KTV
- 音乐匣子（Yinyuexiazi）- Music Box
Whether you give a heart rending rendition of your favourite ballad or scream into a microphone as you attempt to make up for your lack of pitch, either way it’s going to be a laugh!
by Nick Goldstein
Two Week PMSA Language and Culture Programme
I’m not a very good writer, but when asked to write a piece on my first two weeks in Zhuhai as part of the PMSA Programme I volunteered. Not only because I want to get better, but because coming here under InternChina’s culture and internship program taught me the value of doing things you are scared of. That’s why I ended up here writing about InternChina’s program, having already wasted the first 60 words.
The first two weeks were packed! My personal highlights were tea making, calligraphy and Tai Chi classes. Although lots of fun, I also learned a lot. Much like learning about the history of your country helps you understand it today, learning about the details of Chinese culture helped me understand the big picture (it’s a really big picture!)
During this time, we visited two companies operating in the free trade zone. In the same way as our cultural activities, learning about the companies taught me not only about the company itself, its processes and operations, but also the way western firms interact with Chinese. I saw two models, although on the surface very similar, in practice very different, and I felt the difference. If I were to set up an operation in China, I know what I would do differently.
Part of the program was two weeks of intensive language classes. 3 hours a day in a room with other kiwis trying to learn Chinese was invaluable, and although my Chinese is not comprehensive, it is enough to make a contribution to the language gap. In China, at least where I am, the effort is more appreciated than required.
The third part of the program was the homestay experience. Make no mistake this was an experience, living with my own family was difficult enough, someone else’s is downright terrifying. Despite this, however, the most valuable aspect of the course was the homestay. Visiting companies and learning about culture is useful, but you only learn so much by teaching. Living in a homestay opened me up to the culture, exposing me to the intricacies.
Examples of what I have learnt are 1. That, at least in my family, no matter how loud your child’s friend is screaming, you don’t tell them off and 2. People really don’t like it when you wear shoes in the house, like REALLY don’t like it!
What I’ve Learnt
Jokes aside, I learned about the details of the culture, and I have made friends that I will take back to New Zealand. Reflecting on the past fortnight I think the most valuable thing I have learnt are soft skills. Cultural appreciation, empathy, an understanding of the Chinese approach, and an ability to work in Chinese culture, as well as, I believe, an improved ability to work with any culture. I think the friends, contacts and memories I have made are all important. Overwhelmingly, however, participating in this program has been mostly beneficial to my appreciation of different cultures, expanding my mindset.