World Unite! participant Madeleine has just returned home from her 3-month hotel internship in China. She does not only see her stay in China as a way to get to know a new culture, but also as a possibility to gain valuable life experience.
World Unite! arranged my internship at the Holiday Inn Tianjin Binhai, a 4 star hotel in the new TEDA district, a business location. My decision to do an internship in China left some of my friends and family quite perplexed. I heard things like „What? China? Isn’t this crazy? “ Yes, probably it was to some extent, but looking back I can say that going to China and to immerse into a completely different culture and the Chinese lifestyle was one of the best decisions of my life.
Through the preparation materials from World Unite! I felt well prepared regarding cultural differences in China, at least in theory, which proved to be very helpful though.
On arrival to Tianjin, I was welcomed in a very friendly way and my colleagues and the hotel managers were super nice, although a bit reserved. However, I learned that this is simply the way Chinese people behave, whereas at the beginning I tended to take the friendly but restraint attitude personal.
My main task at the hotel was to communicate with the international guests, including Germans, who came to Tianjin for their business trips. I was the contact person for them, answered questions, clarified special requests for them with the managers and collected their feedback to constantly improve the guest’s satisfaction. In addition, I helped out at the breakfast service and during the happy hour in the evenings. I also had some tasks at the Front Desk, including the preparation of member key cards. As you can see, my tasks were quite diverse and gave me the chance to gain a valuable insight into the hotel industry.
I would always have the weekends off to explore the country. I did several trips to Beijing (around 120 km from Tianjin), visited the Great Wall and tried out numerous Chinese restaurants. The only difficulty in everyday life was communication in English on the streets or in shops, as most locals speak only Chinese. Nevertheless, they are very friendly to Europeans and very helpful and I was able to communicate quite well with a Chinese-English translation app, which a Chinese colleague downloaded for me. In addition, I learned important words in Chinese through the Chinese classes at my hotel.
I had some concerns about security before traveling to Tianjin, because with its 15 million inhabitants it is significantly larger than any German city. However, I felt very safe, even when I was walking by myself at night. There are cameras at every corner and there are hand luggage checks before you enter the subway. Also I felt that presence of the police in public is significantly higher than in Germany.
All in all I can say that I had an incredible time in China. Both at the hotel as well as in everyday life I was treated in a very friendly way and people were always helpful. I feel that I have personally grown a lot during my time in China. Also, there was so much to discover during my leisure time and doing some shopping is highly recommended 😉
From my point of view it is definitely worth to try out and to experience something completely different. My advice is to try not to be prejudiced and to come without big expectations. Be open to new things and always be friendly to your colleagues and the people around you. That way you will have an incredible time in China that you will never forget! If you are diligent, reliable and polite, you will definitely have the Chinese on your side, because these attributes are highly valued and often associated with Germany.
Best wishes and enjoy China!