Spending five weeks in Dalian was an extraordinary and eventful experience that I probably would do all over again. Sound crazy? It definitely was – but it was an experience that was challenging in so many cool and fun ways and completely out of the norm compared to back home.

The weekly mandarin classes helped me learn key words and phrases to get me through day to day life. I also got to practice mandarin every day during my internship program.
My internship experience provided me the opportunity to immerse myself and gain an insight into the Chinese business culture through the helpful guidance of my supervisor.

The friends that I made on this trip are people I now call family and ones to last a life time.
I was able to meet with other interns who came from all different countries around the world which made my experience in Dalian so much more thrilling and exciting. We spent countless nights together enjoying the night life of the city in either restaurants, bars,
karaoke or just simply exploring the wonderful streets and markets.

One of my highlights was visiting a city called Dandong which is on the border of North Korea and is also where the Great Wall begins from East of China. That day we toured on a boat in a river which separated China on one side and North Korea on the other. We then
climbed the great wall and took some breath-taking pictures of both China and North Korea.

During the five weeks I was able to learn a new language, explore a beautiful city, make new friends, immerse myself in Chinese business, try new foods (that I will sadly miss), visit other great cities and create long lasting memories that will never be forgotten.

Thank you Dalian and InternChina for the wonderful and unforgettable experience.

Unsure of what to expect prior to departure I was naturally nervous about living in a country had never anticipated visiting with a family I had never met, working in a company I knew little about. It took only a couple of days for me to realise how lucky I was and how great the coming weeks would be. My homestay family were extremely hospitable and welcoming showing genuine interest in my life back at home while sharing their own with me. Homecooked meals, ping-pong, meeting relatives and sightseeing where commonly on the agenda keeping me very busy throughout the week as I attended weekly Chinese classes and social events catered by InternChina. The role at my internship left me feeling like a travel blogger as I visited restaurants, parks and sporting events writing about them and interviewing partners to help provide a guided experience of Dalian for foreigners. I was thrown into situations which helped expand my preconceived skill set as our company hosted guided tours of new cities visiting historical landmarks informing our customers as we travelled. Because InternChina attracts students from all over the world it was great to make new friends overseas and connections that will prove useful in the future. The dining, nightlife and KTV across Dalian provided endless entertainment for me and all the friends I made along the way. Months after returning, I am still missing Dalian greatly and cannot wait to visit this beautiful city once more.

Before I started my homestay, I was pretty nervous. I’ve never stayed at a homestay before, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. When Jasmine, one of the coordinators for Intern China (who ended up becoming a good friend of mine) told me that I would be staying with a mother and her eight-year-old daughter, “Jia Jia” ( 佳佳 ) I became more excited. I’m a Visual Communication student but I also work part time at an after school care, so I have experience interacting with children.

The first day I met Jennifer and her daughter, I felt nervous. Jennifer was immensely helpful and she helped me carry my luggage to her car. She then took me to a Westernised restaurant where the three of us shared some Italian food. We got to know each other over the dinner and shortly, she introduced me to my room. It was spacious and lovely. I really enjoyed my room as there was plenty of sun light always coming in and had my own desk to work at.

Jennifer was incredibly kind throughout the whole experience. Although she was busy as she is a manager at a European-Chinese company, she would always make an effort to ensure that I was comfortable and enjoyed my stay. Jennifer would often take her daughter and I out to dinner almost every night and I was able to try a variety of different cuisines, particularly “Si Chuan” dinners, which I came to like and now that I am back in Australia, I really miss it as meals were often hot and spicy. She also cooked me “congee” often, which is a traditional Chinese meal made of rice, with a texture similar to porridge. As I had an internship to go to throughout the day and several events during the evenings/nights with other interns, it was sometimes difficult to make time to properly get to know Jennifer. However, going to dinner with Jennifer a few times a week made it easier to connect with her and her daughter. There was a park where they lived. I’m still a child at heart and enjoy the park, so sometimes I would take Jia Jia there and we would play on the swings and horizontal bars.

I was also able to celebrate Jia Jia’s 9th birthday with her, her best friends and Jennifer at a Japanese restaurant at the Pavilion, known as the “柏威年” -a luxurious shopping mall. I also ended up getting really sick with a fever and flu that lasted for about a week. Jennifer took me to see a Chinese doctor two times that week, to get “cupping therapy” and acupuncture. She also gave me Chinese herbal medicine, which I felt really helped. Looking back, I actually do not mind that I became so sick because I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of Chinese medicine. Going through the sickness also allowed me to appreciate how much time Jennifer took out of her schedule to make sure that I was okay and she never complained about it.

Overall, my experience with homestay has been extraordinary and Jennifer and her daughter always have a place in my heart. They said they were planning to come to Australia in the future and I told them I would happily show them around. I am an only child and I’m glad I was able to experience what it was like to have a little sister for a month. Jennifer stuck by me literally through sickness and health. I will never forget Jennifer and her daughter. I’ve also been taking mandarin classes and China was a country I have been wanting to go to for a while. I was able to practice my Mandarin and it has improved significantly and Jennifer was also able to practice her English too. The day before I left Dalian, we had dinner together at one of my favourite restaurants known as “The tree” at the pavilion. Going to China was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I am grateful for all the people I have met including my homestay family, the staff and the other interns from InternChina and that I was able to experience so much in a short amount of time with everyone, including my Australian friends from Western Sydney University. On top of the homestay, I really enjoyed my internship (Honestly, enjoyed is such an understatement. I absolutely loved it!) I am so grateful for my trip and I cannot wait to see more of the world.

After 5 weeks in China I’ve learned a lot of things. One of these things is that it is possible to survive the streets, shops and restaurants merely by pointing at pictures and using translators. However, to enrich the experience I’d strongly recommend doing basic Chinese languages just because of how helpful and fun they have been for me. There is also a strangely comforting feeling when you can understand even just a few words of what people passing by are saying. All the Australian interns who arrived in Dalian have been lucky enough to attend language classes at the Youhou Panda Chinese Learning School. Our classes run on Mondays at 9 am for three hours, and have the same extremely friendly and laid back vibe that we Australians love. We get plenty of breaks and can ask questions whenever we want. Our first lesson was purely focused on pronunciation because of the difficulty most people find with just saying basic Chinese words in a way that people can actually understand. Over several lessons, we started to build up small vocabularies by learning the names for foods, countries and numbers among other topics. In the last few lessons we have learned how to construct basic sentences. However, the most important features of these classes are the basic phrases that can be used in real life conversations and scenarios in China. These may seem trivial but just being able to tell your cab driver where you’re from or ask them how their day is going makes the entire trip seem a little more like home. I’ve recently purchased a language book from the school and intend to keep up my learning when I get back!

As apart of our internship with InternChina we were invited to attend a business forum hosted by International Entrepreneurship Corridor (IEC) Dalian. This event was designed to give an insight to the support systems are in place in China, namely Dalian, for starting up entrepreneurial businesses as well as providing some case study examples of successful entrepreneurial business models. Following this we had the opportunity to partake in a Q & A panel and network after the session finished. I should disclaimer right now that I have no interest in establishing my own business here in China or anywhere else in the world, I have other career goals in mind, however, I couldn’t help but be totally intrigued, I really wanted to understand the business framework in China compared to my home country Australia.

The first session was presented by Dr Zain Farooq, Co-Founder of IEC, he provided an insight into IEC and the opportunities it provides to foreigners wanting to establish themselves into the Chinese market. He additionally discussed opportunities and some of the challenges that are expected to be faced when entering the Chinese market. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the support that was provided by IEC and how welcoming local districts were at foreigners establishing businesses locally – although it makes sense if it means locals get employed from it.

The next two sessions were the case study examples of current expat entrepreneurs in Dalian, the first of these was by Matthias Kistler. Matthias is the Founder and Managing Director of ECTD Group which basically is a company with multiple ventures within it, such as beer imports, flooring business and consultancy. Prior to him explaining this he took us through his journey, which in my honest opinion I believe was of more value as it gave us an insight into the uphill battle that one may need to push through to be successful. I gained from this that you should never lose sight of your dream goal, regardless to the obstacles along the way, if you work hard at it you can achieve it! It was also refreshing hearing that what might seen like a devastating moment at that point of time, it will become a value lesson for future endeavours. The second case study was a presentation on a innovative newly developed app W@PP – We Are Party People – which is a social media type app connecting people to various nightlife establishments and events. This was co-delivered by Dr Zain Farooq and Freddie Kalongi, they gave us the background behind why it was developed and the timeline to get it from idea to BETA version.

Wrapping up the night was the Q & A Panel and the networking session, this is where I bloomed. My eager questions were setting the scene about the intricate details of businesses starting up and developing in Dalian China.

Such a worthy event to attend, even if it’s just to pique your interest!

Before signing up to complete my internship with InternChina, I had no idea about Dalian. You could say I was pretty sheltered from the globalised development of the city and all the western companies establishing themselves in the local Dalian area. However, this changed (perhaps I’m still a little sheltered though) thanks to InternChina. On one of our activity days we were able to explore ‘behind the scenes’ one particular company Eldor Corporation.

For those who are like me, that is, naïve and uncultured in the vast world of global businesses, Eldor is an Italian company that produces ignition systems, electronic control units and systems for hybrid and electric vehicles. They originally established themselves on the market in 1972  developing transformers for TV units, however, in the mid-90s they predicted that these units would be phased out due to technology advancements, so naturally they did what any smart business would, they invested heavily into research and development, which lead to them transitioning out of TV units and into the automotive industry – apparently this is a logical transition, something to do with the coil wrapping skills (I just smiled and nodded, I don’t see the similarity of cars and TVs but hey I’m a business student).

The site tour started with a presentation on the company, giving us background knowledge of Eldor and what they stand for, plus they gave us an amazing insight to their impressive operations, seriously they are a well-oiled machine, they would be a great case study for ‘how to business right’! After this insight we had the opportunity to see upfront and personal the manufacturing plant, in action! From start to finish we were able to witness and have each stage explained to us. Personally, I have been in plant tours before but none where I was able to be so up close to see each moving part of the process.

All my preconceived judgements were totally wiped, operational processes that are in place ensure efficiency, and should there be a ‘cog’ in the production line that drags down the assembly line then it is analysed and rectified. I was equal parts impressed and moved that they depict transparency, accountability, gender equality (yes I am a feminist, I’m all about equality) and they focus on their environmental impact. Furthermore, the staff have all occupational health and safety requirements catered for and they are provided with a gym and a basketball court – legit can I work for them??

They have a 3 pillar approach dream, passion and technology and detailed company mission, vision and values which is obviously more than just for show (unlike a number of other companies, personal opinion of course). It is genuinely impressive when you see a company’s approach not only displayed as words but also through their actions. It is easy to see why they have received so many rewards and have over 50% market share in Europe and 22% globally. Did I mention in 2015 they transition to an industrial model that led to zero defects with their products – kind of reassuring when their products are going into our cars!

 

Excellence is an art won by training and habitation… We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an art but a habit.

-Aristotle- (a quote that Eldor have in the business framework)

Hello from China! A few days ago, on the 25th of June five of us were lucky enough to attend a Chinese calligraphy class. We had finished a big lunch and wondered up to the very top of a beautiful thirty story building. Once we were on the 29th level we entered the school and took a set of stairs even higher to a room that overlooked Dalian’s busy streets. Our teacher proceeded to provide a background on the history and evolution of Chinese characters.   Following this, she brought out a cover for the table and laid out a large piece of paper for each of us. We were shown the correct way to hold the brush, vertically between your ring and middle fingers, while also being shown how to turn water into ink with traditional ink sticks. The next part was very fun as we were all given Chinese names.  We were taught the names of the various strokes and the importance of writing them in the correct stroke order.  Only then were we allowed to put brush to paper! I’m not very much of an artist but I’d like to think that my final attempt didn’t turn out so badly. We then learnt how to say and write I love you, which I got to take a picture of and send to my parents back home. I’m sure the other interns would agree when I say it’s an experience worth having when in Dalian.