My First Week in China

china intern

My First Week in China

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This picture I took of the view from our apartment is deceiving, it is actually very cold outside.

From lawyers in Giorgio Armani suits to dancers on tabletops at bars, I’ve seen it all. Shanghai truly is the city that never sleeps. This city is one of the most exciting places I’ve ever been. There is always something to do and something to see. It’s only my first week here and it still feels very surreal being a part of this. Right now it’s a Saturday morning and I’m sitting here on the 36th floor of the hotel where we are staying. The view today is actually the best it’s been since we got here, often there is too much fog to see across to the next building, but today we can see across the city. However, even this high up you can hear the taxis and mopeds beeping their horns down below. My roommate Angela, who is also from Australia, is making me and our other roommate Hannah (from Ireland) a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and some weird sweet sausages we found at TESCO.

China Internship

This is a picture of Lauren and I at the Bund. It was a very foggy day but you can almost see the Pearl Tower right?!

I have made some wonderful friends here with the other interns and with the people at my work. It feels like I’ve known them a lot longer than a week, but when you’re together in a foreign city and you don’t know much of the language, you rely on the people around you a lot more. The other interns and I have had a lot of fun eating out at different places each night. Yang’s Dumplings in the shopping centre close to our hotel has been our go-to. It’s 6 Kuai ($1.20 AUS) for four very large dumplings. There’s meat in them but who knows what kind of meat it is.

Everything is so cheap here – you could get by on 20 Kuai a day easily. The subway is only a few Kuai and it takes you wherever you need to go. The only thing I’m missing here is good coffee. They have Starbucks here but it’s very expensive. In fact, they have so many Starbucks here that in the past week I have literally seen an entire Starbucks being built from start to finish as I have walked along the same route to my work in the morning. I did try to walk another route to work one day but I got very lost. I have found that the best thing to do when you’re lost in Shanghai is walk around in circles and look lost for a bit and someone will come up to you and ask you in English if you are okay and then give you directions. Trust me, it’s worked on several occasions.

china intern

A picture from the dinner I had with my supervisor, his aunty and uncle and some colleagues.

Although I love the interesting research, legal, and communications work I do at the law firm, one of my favourite parts of the week has been lunch-time at work. Everyday my supervisor (who is Chinese but speaks very good English) takes myself and some of his work friends at the law firm down to the street to a local restaurant. Every day it’s a different one, and every day I meet a new person from the firm. My supervisor has been very good to me while I have been here. Not only has he taught me a lot about international law, he has also taught me a lot about Chinese culture. One night he asked me and a few of his colleagues to his family dinner at a restaurant downtown. I felt honoured to be invited. It was a beautiful restaurant with chandeliers and high ceilings and they served traditional Shanghai food. We shared many different cold and hot dishes. We ate everything from crunchy shrimps and fresh salmon on ice to strange fruits and spicy soups, finishing with some noodles for dessert. I learned a lot that night about Chinese culture. I learned a few words in a Chinese dialect I can’t remember the name of, I learned that you have to drink the whole glass when someone more important than you drinks the whole glass after saying cheers, and I learned that you have to say cheers or “gan bei” to the people next to you (or even better stand up) every time you want to take a sip of your drink. I also learned that when someone in China calls someone their ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ that doesn’t mean they are actually related. I cannot wait to see what else I learn in the next few weeks that I am here.

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