Monday 1 June 2015

First impressions of Zhuhai

Here’s a quick introduction about myself before I tell you about my first days in China. My name is Patrik and I’m a 21 year old male from Sweden, currently studying for my undergraduate degree in Business at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. Having looked at internships for the summer I came across Internchina which is a company helping to organize internships in China, the name is kinda self-explanatory. Looking for something different to do I thought this sounded like a great opportunity and I decided to apply for it. Few months later and I found out that I had been accepted to do a marketing internship at an outsourcing company called ODM Group. I was beyond excited!

Never having been to China or Asia before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday night. I had done previous research about the city of Zhuhai which I will be interning in but there were still a lot of unknowns about the whole situation. Not knowing the language or anyone else made it all a bit scary. Even though I’ve lived in different countries before this would be the biggest culture shock by far.

To get to Zhuhai I had to take the ferry from the airport in Hong Kong. Everyone was very helpful and their English was good which made it all a lot easier. I knew that I had arrived during the rainy season but I wasn’t expecting this kind of weather. Having lived and studied in Scotland for the last three years I thought I was used to rain but this was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The short five meter walk out in the rain between the terminal and the ferry was enough to get me soaked. It only took around an hour and a half before I arrived in Zhuhai and luckily the weather had cleared up by then. After picking up my suitcase and going through customs I was greeted by Henry and Fanny who are working with Internchina. Earlier the same day I had found out that my host family had to cancel and that I had to move in to an apartment with other interns. This didn’t really bother me as I was meant to stay at an apartment during the second half of my time here anyway. After waiting around for a while we finally managed to find a taxi which took me to my apartment. Only one out of four people had moved in at the time, a girl from New York named Nicole. The two others will move in the week after. I was surprised at how big and nice the rooms were, having lived in student apartments before I expected something much smaller. By the time I got there it was already late and I was tired from the long flight so I just went straight to bed.

View from my bedroom

The next day I was told that there’d be a pool party in the outskirts of the city. One of Paul, the manager at Internchina’s, friends had his birthday there and we were invited. Me and Nicole went to meet up with Mark and his girlfriend Sam from Canada, two other interns she had met the day before for some lunch. We found this small Chinese restaurant right across the street from our apartment, the whole street is filled with them but because the two others had lived here for a while they knew where to go. I’m still not quite sure what I actually ate but it tasted amazing. Even though I’m not usually a big fan of seafood the food here was some of the best I’ve ever had. It only cost us 70 kwai which is around $11 for all of us. After leaving the restaurant we made our way to the bus that would take us to the pool. It was a very long bus ride but we got to see most of the city on the way. Getting off the bus we met up with one of Sam’s friends and started walking towards the pool. None of us had data on our phones and didn’t know the name of the place which resulted in us getting lost and wandering around for an hour and a half. We got to see some less developed parts of the city and got an insight into what the rural areas of the country look like. The people were all friendly and helpful and we eventually made our way there with the help of their directions. When we got to the pool it felt like we were in the middle of the jungle being surrounded by mountains on all sides. After walking around for so long, in temperatures which I’m not used to, it was great to finally get into the water. After an hour or so other people started to arrive. They brought food and beer with them and we had a BBQ on the pool-side. It was nice to talk to other western people about their experience in the country, many having lived here for years. We left pretty early though since a few of us had our first day of work the morning after.

Just arrived at the pool

Even though I’ve only been here for a day and a half I already love this city, the people, the atmosphere and everything else about it. I am glad I made the decision to come here and I look forward to spending the next three months in this amazing place!

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