Between the golden times of an empire and a futuristic city: Amalia from Italy spent two months in Beijing, where she completed a media and journalism internship. Read more about why Amalia wants to return to China soon again after her internship.
When I graduated from High School I was, as it happens to many, very confused about my future and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Just one month before the start of the semester I decided to major in Chinese and Chinese Culture at the University of Venice.
This was an improvised decision and the fact that I had no particular interest in China beforehand didn’t really make the best student out of me right away. 🙂 Although during three years of University I had grown a wider interest for everything concerning China I still had not developed a real connection to it.
That’s why I decided that I had to travel to China and discover it for myself.
Many of my fellow students did exchange semesters at Chinese universities but I knew from their stories that they mostly spent time with other foreigners. I wanted to have an experience where I could be part of the Chinese everyday life and not somewhere on a “Foreigners in Beijing“-Party.
When I found World Unite! I knew that it was what I was looking for, not only did they help me to ﬁnd an internship that was suitable for me but they also provided me with what I needed, especially because it was my ﬁrst time in the country and I didn’t know what to expect. I vividly remember when I was waiting at the Maan Coffee shop at the airport for Alex, who is the coordinator in charge for interns in Beijing, to pick me up.
At that point I was a little scared, I had no idea what was going to be outside the airport. What if China was going to disappoint me? When Alex arrived, everything was easiy all of a sudden. We took a cab and there I was right in the middle of Sanlitun, a modern and fancy area of Beijing. This was also the area where I was going to live for 2 months.
To get to know each other we ate some noodles, Alex provided me with a Chinese SIM card, and then we took a bike (believe it or not, bike sharing is BIG in China right now) to get to the subway Station, so I could navigate my way around.
On my first internship day, Alex accompanied me to my internship placement and introduced me to my new colleagues. I was an intern at “Pandaily” a small Media company or more speciﬁcally a “Tech Media Start Up”, my colleagues were all young, full of energy and creative. I was lucky to work in such a friendly environment.
Sometimes I would get frustrated because my Chinese was just not good enough. Actually I even realized that it was pretty bad. Most of the time I wasn’t able to understand important parts of a conversation and during meetings I had to ask my colleagues for translations all the time. It is tough to sit in a room without having a slight idea of what is going on around you. But everyday I picked up some more words and started to feel more conﬁdent, I even started to attend Chinese lessons twice a week. I really needed to practive my conversation skills, since at my University I had gained mostly written skills and in China I ﬁnally had the opportunity to put my language skills to practice.
I made new friends, Chinese friends and also other foreigners. I talked a lot and was excited about what each day would bring, and totally fell in love with Chinese food.
Two months just passed by so fast that I didn’t even have time to get homesick or even to feel some kind of culture shock that everybody always talks about. In Beijing there is optimism, there are opportunities and it feels like it is somewhere between ancient golden times of an Empire and a futuristic gigantic city. But at the same time it is a place where people sit together and share their food from the same bowl and that’s something that I can’t wait to go back to.
Read more about Amalia’s internship here.