Guest Post: An Intern’s Reflections on Shanghai

by Courtney Gould Miller
August 25, 2014

Welcome today to Beatriz Lopez, an intern with Intuu China! I asked Beatriz to share with Chinaful’s readers the highs and lows of her experience learning to live and work in China. As every traveler to China can attest, China poses many new challenges that stem from the different cultures and languages. But there’s nothing like the feeling you get when you start to learn how to communicate, how to navigate, and how to enjoy living in China. It happened for me when I could go to my morning jianbing shop, confidently order, and relish in a delicious breakfast alongside local friends. (And like Beatriz, when I could chat with cab drivers!) Here’s a look into Beatriz’s experience.

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Beatriz_  Zhong Shan ParkBeatriz in Zhongshan Park

I was feeling more nervous than I thought I’d be as I arrived to the airport gate where I would wait for another half an hour before all passengers would start boarding. My apprehension grew when all I heard was Chinese; nobody seemed to be speaking English or another Romanic language. I almost forgot why I had decided to do an internship in Shanghai. I had been preparing for this move since the beginning of my last semester in college. Growing up I would frequently visit different cities, towns and landscapes of Mexico which inspired my love of travel and learning how differently people can live all around the world. I studied abroad in England, travelled some of Europe but I never experienced as much a culture shock as I did after a couple of days of being in Shanghai. Though my internship was with an international company where everyone spoke English, interning in China offers a lot of obstacles and rewarding experiences.

More than two months in and I have already learned a lot more about myself personally and what I want professionally. I have learned that having patience can go a long way. As easy as it can be to just shut myself in my apartment rather than face the language barrier and cultural difference, it is a more rewarding experience to face the obstacles and grow from them. I have felt pathetic as I point to stuff I want and just nod or shake my head for fear of saying something wrong or sounding stupid. I have been close to tears, on the verge of storming out of the taxi cab when the taxi driver couldn’t understand my pronunciation of “Changshou Lu”. After each encounter I’ve found myself opening up more and being more comfortable with the language difference. I now greet the owner of a restaurant with a simple ‘ni hao’ and order my food in Chinese and it’s an amazing feeling one can get from feeling the most vulnerable to the most accomplished. I started appreciating the Chinese language and its history which I have now come to realize is easier than English grammar. Although my Mandarin skills are still slowly progressing I feel a lot better going into a wet market to buy my meat, fruit and veg.

View from Apartment

View of Shanghai from Beatriz’s Apartment

My internship in China definitely has pushed and tested my limits. As a recent grad it was a challenging experience I’m glad I took advantage of. Not only because it was my first job out of university working as a Community Manager with a start-up (because that’s a challenge in itself, wherever the location) but because it was in a completely new environment with a refreshing way of life. I will continue to look for opportunities that offer an exciting change for personal and professional growth.

 

Have a China experience you’d like to share?  We’d love to feature it on Chinaful!  Let us know by emailing [email protected], or tweet @cgouldmiller to connect.

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