Get Global

Creating together

Our students tell us about their time interning in Xiamen, China! To find out more about our global internship programme for Newcastle University Business School Stage 2 students, visit our website.

Week 1

Bethany and Tom  tell us about their first week working in Xiamen, China!

Tom

I arrived at Heathrow late on Friday morning, waiting to board my China Southern flight to Guangzhou. Unfortunately, our connecting flight to Xiamen was delayed by about 4 hours, meaning we had an 8-hour layover before arriving in Xiamen some 26 hours later. We were greeted at the airport by our student buddy, Kary, a member of the university. Kary has looked after us all week, and we’ve become relatively good friends considering we’ve only been here a short time. My first impressions on China were comparable to what I imagined the country to be like; hot and congested, however, once we arrived at the Xiamen University campus we were treated to the more tranquil views of the coastline, lake, and temples.

Our rooms are on the 6th floor of an old building in the corner of the campus. The receptionist, Alex, who speaks fluent English helped us get organised on our first day, even giving us the password to his wifi so we could get internet in our rooms! One of the biggest challenges we’ve had since being here is ordering food. Without help from the students, we’ve had to become accustomed to pointing and smiling at the canteen staff to indicate what we want to eat. The options for breakfast consist of cake, sweetcorn, and soup!

I’m working at Linde, a material handling company. I found it very difficult on my first few days, having to decipher the bus system to and from work without anyone to help as I’m the only intern based there. The department I am in however is full of incredibly friendly people. I have been set the task of researching the forklift market and will be creating a presentation to the department at the end of the month about the scope for e-commerce in the industry. So far, my induction to the job has meant I have mainly learnt the basic info of the company itself, before starting to develop my project. I have also picked up a few Chinese words along the way! One of the best things about the Chinese working culture is that they take a nap after lunch meaning the whole office has an hour each day where everyone is passed out on their desks. We are about to have our first weekend exploring Xiamen, visiting the temples, beaches, cuisine, and even the shopping malls.

Bethany

I’m working at Amoysen, a design communications company. We were quite nervous on the first day, but thankfully Karry and Shawei (our buddies from Xiamen University) are also interning at Amoysen. The office is based in the business area of Xiamen and we were surprised how modern and huge the buildings are. There are high rise buildings as far as the eye can see and new buildings going up all around. We really would have struggled to get a bus or taxi to work without Karry and Shawei on the first couple of days, and we’ve become great friends. Now we’ve settled in, we get the bus to work in the morning, which takes approximately an hour and after work we get a taxi back to campus. The work days are as long as we were told they were- we leave for breakfast at 7am and return from work between 7 and half 7 in the evening. The saving grace is the two-hour lunch break. We have take-out delivered to the office, which is on the 35th floor and has beautiful views. Then its customary to have a nap, which really helps break up the day.

The office is mostly full of women, who all have fabulous English and love talking about London and fashion with me and Christa. I was definitely surprised about how similar we are to the women in so many ways, I don’t know what I was expecting, but I imagined the adjustment to their culture to be tougher. They threw us and the Chinese interns a little party on our second day in the office and I could never praise them highly enough for how welcoming and friendly they’ve all been.

We’ve had a project for the week to collect information and contact details for companies designing a whole range of products. My sections were mainly technology based and I think it will develop my skills well to have to researched designs about topics I’m not well read on. Our project for the coming week is to prepare emails inviting the companies to send their most innovative designs, in hope to be awarded the China Good Design Award.

All in all, I feel we’re all settling in really well and are excited to keep exploring the city in the evenings and weekends.

Week 2

Christa and Simeon tell us about their second week working in Xiamen, China.

It’s hard to believe we have been in Xiamen for nearly two weeks now. After an intense first week of work our Chinese buddies, Kary and Shiwei, took us out for hot pot, a very tasty, traditional Chinese meal, before leaving us to explore some of the nightlife Xiamen has to offer. The high street nearest campus is awash with bars and restaurants, though we were determined to try the infamous Pheobe’s, as had been recommended to us by the previous Newcastle interns. Fortunately Pheobe’s did not disappoint and we had a great evening. Throughout the rest of the weekend we were very busy being tourists. This included a visit to the beach, which is conveniently on our doorstep, as well as a riskier trip to a famous street market which involved a bus ride without our trusty buddies. The hustle and bustle of the market led us through a mixture of street food and gift shops that were a sensory overload. While the market was amazing, we all began to get a bit frustrated by Chinese staff hovering around us while we looked around shops while Tom even got asked for a photo! After an exhausting attempt to order food without speaking any Mandarin we thankfully returned to our saviours, Kary and Shiwei, to visit the Xiamen South Putuo Buddhist temple. The temple is a huge religious sight, visited by many tourists every day for its incredible architecture and surrounding lake. It was therefore a great honour that we were able to make a wish by lighting incense and placing it in front of the temple, which was a truly humbling experience. On Sunday evening we visited the busiest road in Xiamen, Zhongshan road, even at 9pm it was still teeming with endless people shopping and eating. We ended our weekend perfectly with a stacked pile of (not so traditional) churros and ice cream.

After a jam packed weekend I think we all struggled with our early starts on Monday morning, though this didn’t last long after entering the cheering office of Amoysen. The week began with us continuing our project, using the research of the previous week to email prospective companies about entering the “China Good Design” project. It was really touching that the company trusted us enough to write our own emails to these companies, so we worked very hard to sound professional. Emailing in a professional manner has been a very useful skill to learn, which we will inevitably be using in any future job we take on.

Halfway through the week Simeon moved to the International department and has been taking part in a different project alongside the lovely Phoebe, who is charge of the International department. This has left Beth and I to continue in our original project. One of our biggest challenges so far has been finding emails for large companies that insist upon filling in online enquiry forms rather than providing emails. Overall, through many many ‘Bing’ searches (Google is annoyingly blocked) we have overcome this difficulty and successfully found the majority of the emails for the companies in question. It is daunting, but incredibly exciting to imagine the important business men and women from businesses, like Adidas and Samsung, that will be replying to us. I look forward to following this project through and seeing what responses we will receive. I also look forward to another week of lunchtime naps and weekends exploring Xiamen and its fascinating culture!

 

Simeon

 

From the office on the 35th floor to the middle of nowhere with amazing food!

The last two weeks in Xiamen have been amazing, but have passed shamefully fast! As soon as I entered China everything was as exciting as it should be on a far east adventure. We were greeted by Shiwei who is  one of the students from Xiamen University. He is really helpful  and without him we could not have made it through!

When it comes to work we are in a quite casual office at Amoysen with a completely different way of working than what we are used to in Europe, but this is based on the nature of the job. We were given a project for China Good Design to collect potential customers and their contact details. After a few days we started contacting the potential customers and awaiting their answers.

After that I was chosen to move to the International Business department and my supervisor Phoebe is really nice and graduated from her Masters in the UK. My task is to help arrange a study trip for business people and professionals who are from China to go and visit design events, studios and exhibitions in the United Kingdom. This task will be my project until I finish the internship in Amoysen. Currently the study buddy from Xiamen is not here so I am working alone for the moment, but she will be back on Monday.

 

Currently my experience outside of work in China has been outstanding. Xiamen University has one of the best looking campuses in the country and this is reinforced by the vast amount of people who come to visit at the weekend. Additionally the city offers everything that you need in all aspects, from the mountains to beautiful beaches, as well as an island that you can go and visit. Xiamen is famous for seafood and especially the satay Sa cha noodles.

I was fortunate enough that one of my friends lives near Xiamen and came to see me. Together we walked around and even got lost on purpose in one of the local markets near the harbour. There we found a small family ran shop that offered authentic Sa cha noodles. To be honest the place looked small and strange but was full with local people. We ordered them with the ingredients that we desired and after a short wait we got the most amazing freshly made noodles with an amazing taste. After that we went for dessert and I was forced to try the famous Durian but in a cake. It was amazing- creamy and sweet with a taste I will remember forever.

Now it is time to continue working and prepare for the weekend full of adventures and unknown places that we will visit!

Week 3

Tom

As it approaches three weeks since I landed in China, it’s fair to say I can’t quite believe where the time has gone. Over the past fortnight since I wrote my last blog, I’ve seen so many more aspects of the Chinese culture, tried an enormous amount of food and got a lot more stuck in at work. I’m still working on my research project about e-commerce in China, as the company I’m working for (Linde) looks to launch its first online platform in the years to come. In addition to this, I’ve been learning about how the company manages its supply chain globally, gaining an insight into the intricacies of running an organisation that stretches to all corners of the world. It’s a difficult process to grasp in a month, but it’s experience you would only gain if you throw yourself into an environment like this. I feel like I’m doing that now.

The people at the office seem to get more and more friendly each day. I’m not sure if they are just fascinated by having an English student work for them, or if I’ve just been very lucky with how I’ve fitted in. As I walked into the office this Wednesday, the department had decorated my desk with balloons and banners, as due to their lunar calendar, apparently today would be my Chinese birthday. We went out for lunch, and they even bought me a cake afterwards. I feel this expresses just how hospitable some of the people out here can be.

Last weekend, we went into the city and explored more of the food markets. Trying different cuisines is something we all have in common, so we went and found a nice sushi restaurant to treat ourselves. In the evening, Alex, our friend at reception, took us to have Chinese massages. This has been one of my favourite experiences so far. They were performed by blind men who had found a career in understanding people’s bodies following their disabilities. This week, I was lucky enough to be invited by the office to one of their corporate dinners. We went up the mountains of Xiamen to this lovely restaurant, where all the managers from the Asia Pacific region congregated and we had a lovely evening. With only one week left, we want to go and see the famous Island just of the coast of Xiamen. I really hope we get to see it before we leave.

Bethany

I don’t think any of us can quite believe it’s already the end of the third week. In some ways it feels like we’ve been here for a minute, and in others that we’ve become part of the furniture.

Last weekend we all had a collective moment of missing home and spent Saturday finding a small pub, the Londoner, in a quiet suburb of Xiamen, which promised to be the only place in the city showing the Lions vs. New Zealand game. We spent the rest of the day mooching around the city centre, finishing with a late night screening of Despicable Me 3. Although largely lacking culture, we were all secretly proud of ourselves for navigating our way through the day without the help of Kary and Shiwei to translate.

 

On Sunday we went to a mall further into the city centre, as we’ve finally learnt a few of the main bus numbers. The buses are always full, with every feasible area of space on the bus occupied with bodies. But, for 10RNB (11-12p), there’s no complaining. Me and Christa were later invited to go for afternoon tea in Shapowei, the district surrounding the campus, by Zoe and Albee from the office (no boys allowed). We left Tom and Simon to entertain themselves at the mall and got a guided tour of the most popular cafe’s in Xiamen. Zoe and Albee are both 23; Zoe studied in the UK and has ambitions to move to Beijing and pursue a career as a translator. Albee used to live in New York and was successful with her blogging and photography. We completely lost track of time and ended up chatting for about 2 and a half hours (girls gossiping is apparently universal).

That evening we had planned to go out with Alex, a receptionist with exceptional English, for a massage after we had seen him hurrying out the dorms one evening exclaiming about ‘the best massage in Xiamen’. He took us on a 45 minute bus journey, at about 10pm, to an apartment building that admittedly looked rather ropey. It turned out to be the best and most memorable experience we have had thus far. The men there were all partially or fully blind; Alex had explained to us on the journey that those with disabilities are given little to no help from government handouts, having to train in any specialty that allows them to earn a living. We were served hot black tea and Alex helped throughout to translate what the men were telling us. The men were buddhists and going for a massage is traditionally equivalent to seeing a doctor, they believe that the massage helps balance the form and promotes health. Long story short, they told me that I have a coldness in my bones and that I should stay in warmer places (I was too relaxed to explain the Newcastle climate). Within about five minutes they’d uncovered seemingly all of our medical histories, which was baffling. We left feeling entirely relaxed (and sore).

 

After work on Tuesday we went up to the top of one of the two newly-built matching towers, which stand out clearly above the skyline of Xiamen. We got some incredible pictures and watched the sunset over the city.

We’re planning to go to the island this weekend, as sadly it will be our last full weekend as a group. Another incredible week in Xiamen!

Week 4

Simeon tell us about his fourth and final week working in Xiamen

During my last week working at Amoysen I have been collecting and refining data as their international business department wants to make a study tour to Europe. They are particularly interested in visiting the UK, Germany, Netherlands and Italy. It has been a rollercoaster of brainstorming, thinking and working hard on the job. It was difficult, but we managed to finish all of the work that was assigned to us by the deadline.

As it’s my last week, I have been taking as much time as I can in terms of going out and collecting gifts for friends and family, while looking for new nice places to explore. This led me to all sort of nice places which were in the middle of nowhere, but proved to be hidden gems waiting to be found.

This four-week experience has taught me that I have to be more patient and keep on learning new things to expand my horizons and all the possibilities. Additionally, I have become more resilient and that means, that my personal targets have been met.

Xiamen was an amazing experience that I’d personally recommend to anyone who is considering working abroad, as it will give you a direct presentation of how life post university will be and what you can expect!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *