In my final year of university I wanted to find an international internship so I could combine travelling and work experience. I discovered one in China that seemed perfect and decided to just go for it, flying out there not knowing anyone on the last day in August. It was a great experience and probably the craziest yet, there were lots of fun times especially trying to communicate. We had Mandarin lessons but it was very hard to pick up because the language is tonal.
I worked for a major Chinese travel company and did mostly online marketing, and lived in an apartment with other interns working at different companies. On our weekends off and evenings we would make like tourists and visit the sites including the great wall and Olympic park. During the week I lived a more local lifestyle being the only westerner in my company and had lunch at lots of hole in the wall Chinese places.
Being in China I felt like a celebrity a lot of the time with my bright blonde hair, often at tourist attractions like Tianamen square out of towners would ask to have their photo taken with me and my friends. This had it perks though like when I visited a large festival and got chosen from the crowd to go up on stage with the band.
The food in China took some getting used to, toad and odd parts of the animal ie. Chicken feet are very popular over there so it is hard to be a fussy eater! Luckily I didn’t sample either of those but I did have some pigeon hotpot – it tasted like chicken. If you want to eat similar to at home you will have a hard time there, cheese, normal bread and coffee are all very overpriced and not as good as home.
If you enjoy noodles and other Asian food you can live very well on very little. Their Subway and Mcdonalds are reliable choices if you want something familiar, although I didn’t like the KFC as the chicken was far too pink! Another challenge was the public transport. My regular commute to work involved being crammed into the tube carriage so tightly you couldn’t do anything with your arms except keep them flat down by your side and rely on everyone else not to fall so you stayed upright.
Despite the oddities and extreme internet censorship I do miss Beijing and hope I can make it back there soon.