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Solving Problems in The Workplace

I think every workplace in China is different. However, coming to China and working in a Chinese office is a very big transition from the American workplace. I have noticed many differences between my previous internships and this internship. There are many things I actually like better about the Chinese style of the workplace, but there are also things I appreciate from the American workplace.

PROS of Chinese Workplace:

-Relaxed schedule

-Foreigners have an opinion in day to day matters

-English skills are valued and put to use

-Proper credit is given for hard work

-Many opportunities for growth 

-Calm environment typically

CONS of Chinese Workplace:

-Less organized

-Different system than America is hard to get used to

-Slower pace overall from workers

-Language barrier can lead to confusion and miscommunications

If there are ever problems communicating at work I suggest either working on your Chinese language skills and showing an effort that you are trying to better understand the situation or if you have a foreign boss, just telling them up front that you are having trouble understanding the problem and think of a way to best fix the problem and find a solution. No one wants conflict in the workplace, so don’t let issues build up. Tackle them upfront calmly is my best advice. 

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Business Culture in China

While I am not an expert on business culture I have noted many differences on the way businesses are run in China versus in America. For example, Face is a very important thing in Asian culture. To "save face" means to basically not embarrass yourself or lower yourself in the workplace. It is very important that you do not do this or it can highly damage your image. In Chinese work places, a lot of things happen that are not always vocalized to the office. While in American culture, everyone is kept up to date on every major aspect of a company on a day to day basis, I have noticed that in my workplace in China, this is not the case. There are always many things going on, however they may not be brought up until they are finalized. Also, plans can change very quickly here. Another thing I have noted is how to hand out business cards in China. When at a Asian networking event you must always present your business card facing the other person with two hands on the card. This is how all Chinese present business cards and it is considered not polite to do otherwise. I have had a very positive experience at my internship and been welcomed by all of the Chinese and foreign staff. I think it is best to make good connections at the workplace because Beijing can be a very small place and every professional relationship you make, makes a difference.

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Beijing's One and Only Toilet Restaurant

Last week my friend decided to bring me to a new restaurant in Beijing. When she said it was like a “toilet” restaurant, I thought we just had a language miscommunication and she meant it was not a nice place. To my surprise, she was very accurately describing this hilarious place. The restaurant, in the middle of a regular Chinese mall was called Modern Toilet. Guests can dine on toilets while they eat food shaped like things from the bathroom and drink out of urinals and bathtubs. This was truly the weirdest restaurant I have ever been to. The food was great and overall it was a fun evening! Only in China….

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Trip to Sanya

This week I was lucky enough to spend in the Hainan provence of China. Me and my two American friends that were visiting took a trip to Sanya (pronounced San-YA). Not only was the weather beautiful, but the people were very friendly and the food was amazing. During the four days that we spent there we went to the beach, learned how to surf, drank out of fresh coconuts and explored the southern culture of China. I found that the south was full of happy and relaxed people. It was truly a nice get-a-way from the cold and smoggy city of Beijing. I hope that I can return to Sanya one day! 

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Teaching English in China

Shortly after arriving in Beijing, I found out that teaching English in China is very common place for foreigners. Not only is it an easy job to find, it is also great pay! I wrote an e-mail to an English agency and within a week I had two tutoring jobs and one part-time job teaching English at a public school. Teaching in general is a lot harder than it looks, but teaching English to 6 year olds who don’t understand what you are saying is even harder. However, I have learned a lot from my teaching experience. It has been very fun and rewarding to teach English and see the children learn more and more each week. Not to mention, they are all adorable.

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Christmas in China

Christmas in China is a very low key holiday, if a holiday at all. While I’ve seen many beautifully decorated Christmas lights and trees around the city in Malls and Hotels, the average Chinese restaurant or place does not care that it is Christmas. The main reason for this is because the government does not support time off for this holiday, as many people in China are not Christian. Therefore, Christmas Day is a regular day here in China, no different than any other day. While foreigners celebrate the holiday with friends, many Chinese people do not celebrate it at all usually. I luckily had the day off of work and celebrated with some friends! Overall, it was a fun day, but nothing like Christmas in the West. 

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Half Way Mark

Wow. I cannot believe my time in China is officially half way over. I guess time flies when you are having fun. I have learned so much over the past three months while living in China. There have been many obstacles, challenges, and confusion. However, with all of that there has been lots of new friendships, learning, growth and lots and lots of love. It takes a certain kind of person to want to live abroad. But, It take a lot of guts to move to China. Especially not knowing anything about the country, except the typical stereo types. I pictured China as this very strict, communist country before arriving here. While there are many interesting rules I don’t quite understand in the government, this country is anything but strict. It is full of some of the most interesting and talented people I have ever met. I look forward to my last three months in China. I hope they are as special as the first three have been! 

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National Ballet of China at NCPA

This week I went to the National Chinese Performing Arts center to watch the ballet with friends. I have always heard positive things about the ballet in China and I was certainly not disappointed. The show was actually based on a Japanese story. It was about a rare bird that everyone thought went extinct, but many years later was actually found in China. China gave the bird back to Japan in a friendly gesture. The ballet didn’t really capture this story, I found this out after. However, it was truly beautiful from the costumes, to the choreography. Everyone was perfectly in sync and the dancers truly made the show look completely effortless. 

Overall, I would highly recommend seeing this type of performance in China, it is certainly worthwhile!

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Learning Mandarin

Since I arrived in Beijing I have been taking Chinese lessons twice a week. I have always been interested in learning new languages, but learning Chinese is an experience that I will never forget. While I already speak Italian and understand Spanish, I found myself having more struggles than ever before when learning Chinese. Learning mandarin is extremely difficult. It has actually been one of the most challenging aspects of living in a country where no one seems to speak English.

However, Beijing is full of many menus with images on them and pointing and sign language can get you very far actually. This being said, I think learning a language in any country can really help you to better understand the culture! I have greatly improved my Chinese since I arrived and it has gotten easier to pick up new words as time goes on. My goal is to be able to hold a basic conversation in Mandarin by the end of my time here!


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Cars, Cars and Flashy Cars!

I've never really had a strong interest in cars. However, the cars in Beijing are an exception. They are the flashiest cars I've ever seen. I've seen my share of insanely expensive cars around the city, but the ones I find myself taking pictures of are the outrageous colored ones and the ones that look very out of place in this crazy city. Driving in Beijing is something I will never do. The skills one must have to avoid killing pedestrians, cyclists and not hit other cars in the crazy traffic is such a high level. Also, I found out the other day in order to even own a car you need to enter a lottery. They certainly don’t make it easy to drive here. So it’s no wonder when people get a car, they spice up it’s look. After all, who wouldn't want a pink car?

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Wangfujing Street Market

This weekend I ventured over to the Wanfujing area of Beijing. I knew I was going to love this area when I realized the subway exit leads you directly into a huge mall without ever having to go outside. If anyone can’t find me in the winter….you know where I’ll be. 

Anyways, if you decide to exit the mall, there is the Wanfujing street market very close by. This famous market is comprised of all types of weird and exotic food that I would never let go near my mouth. We passed many scorpions, live and dead, fried silk worms, fish, and many things I couldn't quite name. While all of the food is pretty gross, the shopping in the market is quite cheap and the perfect place to buy touristy gifts for friends and family! I would say the Wanfujing Street Market is a must-see for a night in Beijing.


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The Beijing Zoo

As far as I can remember, I've never seen a Panda in real life until yesterday, when I went to The Beijing Zoo. People warned me it might be a depressing experience, but I only truly knew what they meant when I saw the zoo in real life.

The animals all seemed very dirty and sad. Their living conditions were much worse than any zoo I have ever encountered. However, on the plus side of this chaos I got to pet a Zebra and feed it! I’m pretty sure there was a sign telling people not to feed them, but everyone else was doing it and I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime to feed celery to a zebra….Naturally I took a selfie with the zebra after. If you feed a zebra and don’t take a selfie with it after, did it really happen?

My favorite exhibit of the day was the Panda house. All of the Pandas were eating lots of bamboo and seemed like very lazy creatures. However, they were adorable. It was worth the 5 extra kuai we had to pay to see them!


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Central Perk: "Friends" Café in Beijing

Over the past few weeks I heard over and over again about a coffee shop that was modeled after the café in the famous T.V. show Friends. Now, I may not completely understand Chinese culture yet, but I do understand one thing for certain. They are obsessed with Friends. So naturally, it came as no surprise that a man decided to make an exact replica of the coffee shop right here in Beijing. (I’ve been told there’s one in Shanghai as well)

I ventured over to the café with a friend. It was nearly impossible to find. On the sixth floor of a huge shopping complex. However, when we finally arrived, It was adorable! While it was very small, it looked just like the TV show. From the menu on the wall, to the intricate details from the show, I felt as if I had returned to the nineties. The shop even had a big orange couch where Friends was playing on repeat. My friend and me ordered some lattes and got to choose a cupcake from the Friends menu in which each character had its own flavor.

China can be really cute sometimes.

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Pumpkin Time

This week was full of fun activities revolving around one of my favorite holidays Halloween. I wasn’t sure what to expect for Halloween since it is not a big holiday in China. However, to my surprise I was able to celebrate it! I went to a rave in the 798 district with about 1,000 other Halloween celebrators and we danced the night away to interesting Chinese emo-type bands playing live music and then some Chinese DJs played as well.

I realized that this time of year would not be complete without a pumpkin spice latte. When I brought up the topic at work, my Chinese co-workers thought that I was crazy and it was such a weird thing to drink. I assured them that it was a very popular drink in America. Me and my co-worker decided to celebrate Halloween at work by searching for the perfect pumpkin spice latte around the city. Unfortunately, Starbucks didn’t have it. However, McDonalds McCafe came to the rescue and we both got to enjoy pumpkin lattes and cookies. (P.S. Starbucks does it better)

I finished out my Hallo-weekend by going to a Mexican Dia De Los Muertos celebration in Chaoyang park. The exhibit was free and full of cool displays, crafts, and yummy treats.

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The Great Wall of China at Juyongguan

After over a month in China, I finally arrived at The Great Wall. Since the day I arrived, I highly anticipated this day. It certainly did not disappoint.

One of the first things that comes to mind when I thought about China in the US was The Great Wall. I never imagined I would see it in real life. I hoped one day I would, but I never thought that day would come so soon.

It took about an hour to drive to the wall. We decided to go extremely early in the morning and were climbing the wall at 8 am. Originally, I was not l=ooking forward to waking up so early. However, seeing the wall earlier in the morning was a lot less crowded and more peaceful.

Something I didn’t understand about “climbing” the Great Wall was that you LITERALLY climb it. Hundreds of uneven steps. This climb is not for the weak. I was running on ZERO hours of sleep and it was rough. The view from the top is SO worth it though. It was a very peaceful and spiritual experience to stand on the great wall, something ancient and very important to the history of our world.

The climb was made a lot easier by the many stops we made to take pictures with Chinese. I started to call them our “fan club” by the end of the day. I couldn’t help but laugh / feel famous when I had a line of people waiting to get a picture next to me.

Overall, The Great Wall was beautiful and something I will remember for the rest of my life.

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