13 Jan Starting off with a bang!
The first weekend starts with a bang. Interns that had already been in Shanghai for a month greeted the new arrivals at the hotel lobby, and hurried us out to dinner. About a 10-minute walk down the road, in about 2 degrees Celsius, up two flights of stairs, was a large traditional Chinese teahouse. The Absolute Internship team had booked out an entire room and the feast began. Traditional Chinese food was laid out in a buffet style, with food ranging from dried prunes to jellied blood. But for those that were less adventurous, stir-fired noodles awaited them. A range of tea was also served with dinner. Tired after a 20 hour travelling time, the new interns walked back to the hotel, only to be told that in an hours time we would be heading out to a local bar, and apparently there was no turning down that offer!
We all met down in the lobby, crammed into 3 taxis and were whisked away to a local bar. The mix of nationalities just from the 12 that were brave enough to head out on the first night was amazing! We had a couple of Kiwis, a few Australians, Chinese, English and Italians, but this was just a taste of what was to come! At the local bar “Windows” we were introduced to a Chinese game called “Liars Dice”. The object of the game is to either correctly guess the count of a particular number on everyone’s di or pick those who have over guessed. It soon becomes a game of who has the best poker face!
The next morning all the new arrivals met with the Absolute Internship team and were given a brief presentation as to what to expect from our internships and China. The Absolute team are always so helpful and accommodating, if we ever need anything, we know we can rely on them! A lesson about Chinese customs was to follow, including the cultural differences. A key difference between Western and Chinese culture is the custom of “saving face”. It is important to not embarrass those above you and always to appear as wealthy and important as you can. This is important to consider when at work, as often your boss will not confront you directly, rather ask someone to hint that you might be doing something wrong. Hopefully this will not be the case! A local Chinese language school then paid a visit, introducing us to the local language. Basics of “hello, how are you?” and numbers were taught, which would prove to be surprisingly useful, when you don’t know a single word.
After the presentation we split into various groups and headed out into Shanghai, to find lunch. The local shopping mall has various cuisines, all for less than $5 a meal, or for the more adventurous, we headed out to a truly local restaurant. A man with a large frying pan, and a gas bottle underneath, stood outside cooking hundreds of dumplings. The next day we met again with the Absolute team at a Dim Sum restaurant in the middle of the city. About 20 different dishes were given to each table, each enough for one person! After lunch we headed out to “The Bund”, a road that follows the river and has an unbeatable view of the financial district of the city. Many of us could see the buildings we would be working in, the excitement just grew each day before we began work! We then headed out to the local “fake market” to do some stereotypical cheap Chinese shopping. People would bug you from every direction willing you to buy a bag, watch, glasses or gloves, all claiming to be real “Prada”, “Louis Vuitton”, or “Gucci”. After finding dinner with the other interns, we all headed back to the apartments to get an early night before out big first day of work, it would all begin the next day.