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Our Xiamen experience on our global internship

In this blog, our Global Experience Opportunity interns will be writing a series of weekly blogs from their experience of working in Xiamen. This blog will be based upon their experience of local culture, sights and their work on the internship. Our students will also be updating you on what they have been getting involved in and enjoying each week!

Week 1

Our first day in Xiamen! When we arrived in Xiamen and it was so hot, we were told it was 30 degrees but it felt more like 40 – that said, we did not care because we were so happy to have arrived! Students from Xiamen University, Melissa and Zoey, who were holding up the sign ‘Newcastle University’, were waiting to accompany us to the accommodation.

Once we checked into our accommodation, we all had a shower then straight into a nap. It was essential that we slept that day as we had been travelling for about 15 hours in total. We advise taking a flight that arrives in the morning so you have time to explore the area like we did the following day once there’s been a bit of time to adjust to the 7-hour time difference! On our way to dinner, we were kindly treated to a popular Chinese snack by our hosts, which comes in different flavours like chocolate, red bean/matcha (very popular in China) and cheese.

Not accustomed to the local cuisine just yet, Melissa and Zoey took us to have Mexican food for dinner, which was so good. After this night, we can now recommend a bar called Mojo (Mojito) which plays great music! It was a great way to meet everyone and an amazing start to this experience.

Monday was our first full day in Xiamen, we were contacted by one of the teachers from Xiamen University who will also be hosting us during this internship. We needed to register with the police to ensure our safety and security throughout the duration of our stay and afterwards had some spare time so decided to explore the town and our surroundings – especially finding the areas to eat!

In the morning, we visited the beach, which was lovely and very different as Chinese people don’t wear swimwear or walk around in minimal clothing like in England – instead they are fully clothed both children and adults! They also sell Chinese snacks on the beach that look like sand and cream cheese but we were told it was a very popular Chinese rice snack.

In the afternoon, Lucy treated us to a buffet at the university in an upmarket restaurant, the food was amazing and there were different choices of both Chinese and Japanese food. Once we were done, we all went to the city centre to buy some food from the supermarket and have lunch. The supermarket here is a great way to spend time because of how aesthetically pleasing it is!

At dinnertime, we decided to explore Shapowei Road, which has so many restaurants and shops to choose from. After a long time of deciding what to eat, we found a very contemporary café called Paradiso, which had pizza and cocktails. They have amazing pizza; probably one of the best I have had!  After dinner, we spontaneously ended up at a bar called Phoebes, which ended up being one of our favourite places to go for drinks and dinner.

Today was the first day at Reddot Design Museum, where our host Lucy took us. We were divided into our individual departments where we were able to meet our team. I (Naomi) was given Exhibitions, Aitana was allocated to Product Design, Chloe was given Awards and Gareth will be working in Branding. After the introduction, a quick tour around the museum was next up where each product and exhibition was explained to us briefly.

Later in the day we visited ZhongShan Park Shopping Centre which was about 15 minutes by bus from the university. This shopping centre was much bigger than E-Mall and had so many international stores, especially make up brands like Bobbi Brown, MAC and even a huge Sephora store. Some would say it was a dream, it was like a mini New York City. There was also an entire street, which had primarily food, ranging from all kinds of snacks and food both local and otherwise.

Officially the first day of work! Melissa and Zoey who picked us up from the airport were also interns at Reddot Design, so we all decided to take the bus and train to work.  As it was the first day, we were all pretty much still learning about our assigned departments and were doing a lot of research about the company and our given department. I was occupied with plenty of research on the first day, my manager assigned me to research all Robotic products that were on the market by the company between the years 2017-2019. It was really interesting as I got to look at the company yearbook that had so many interesting products, some were already on the market while some were yet to be released..

At lunch we tried a fast food restaurant beside the office, serving mostly rice, meats and vegetables. It was delightful with a great atmosphere as it was very popular in the area as well as being cheap – our meal was less than 28 yuan! We were lucky to have Austin, an intern from America who also spoke a bit of Chinese to help us order.

Another day at work, we carried on with the tasks assigned from the day before. It was on this day where I met my line manager who had been away for a conference earlier in the week – we have got to know each other and discuss what’s expected from me throughout the internship. She went on to check my work and made sure I was executing my research in line with the company’s needs.

We can’t believe the first week is over and so far the experience we’ve had in Xiamen is unparalleled, getting to explore the city and eating all at delicious restaurants and of course starting internships. It is the last working day of the week, at work we have had to hand in some of the work given to us on the first day. I have since been given a new task to complete with a deadline of next week.

After work, myself, Aitana, Chloe, Gareth and Austin (the intern from America) decided to go to a food market down the road for dinner. It was so good! From pork buns, to chicken skewers to duck wraps, to Chinese burritos!! We had it all.

After dinner we took a taxi which cost about 30 yuan to Bar Street which is meant to be very famous and have the best bars, it is quite expensive but definitely worth it. We had beer and mojitos at Fanzone then went to the Londoner to have some food and more drinks! We were so keen on exploring Xiamen and staying out late so we went back to Fanzone where there was a live band, beer pong, a DJ- it had become a club so we stayed and enjoyed the night.

One thing we have learnt this week is that a hand fan is an ESSENTIAL!

Week 2

Our first weekend in Xiamen arrived so thought we would have our first proper night out which meant coming morning time we were a bit jaded! Our colleague from work, Austin, joined us around 2pm for lunch and headed to a restaurant called ‘thankyou café bar’ located at Daxue Rd.

After lunch, Naomi, Chloe, Austin and I grabbed some bubble tea at CitiDrink. Naomi had a passion fruit bubble tea, Chloe, Austin and I had a milk tea. The bubble tea in China is really good and very cheap compared to London (15¥ per bubble tea on average which equals to £1.74.)

After eating out, we headed to the beach opposite to Huandao Rd to sit and relax. The Xiamen beach is a nice place to enjoy a relaxing walk in the afternoon. Plenty of people clearly also enjoy the calming environment as it is always busy, especially families, so we decided to find a quieter place by the beach.

As we were walking, a Chinese family asked Naomi, Chloe and I for pictures. Chinese people seemed amazed at us so we posed for many pictures for some lovely families throughout the day! After a long walk, we finally arrived to the side of the beach that wasn’t quite so busy and had a lie down!

We also experienced one of the most beautiful Xiamen sunsets at around 7pm.

Later on, we visited the Zengcuo’an market, about 15 minutes away from the beach by walk. The food in this market was delicious and very cheap! We loved it and highly recommend. As we were walking across the market, we were grabbing food for dinner.

Finally, we walked back to Xiamen University where our colleague from work, Austin, left us. We carried on with the night by staying and having drinks at Phoebe (Daxue Rd).

Sunday — 7th July

On this day, we woke up around 12pm and headed to the China Mobile shop to get sim cards for our phones. Gareth and Chloe decided not to get one. Naomi and I got two Chinese sim cards with unlimited data for a period of three weeks for only 5¥! Extremely cheap!

After this, Chloe, Naomi and I decided to get our nails done in Daxue Rd. The place was nice and affordable. In the meantime, Gareth went back to the room to have a nap. When we finished doing our nails, we visited Emall shopping center.

Later on, Gareth and Chloe got burgers from ‘Loong Oherished Burger’ and, Naomi and I got chicken popcorn and nuggets from Phoebe. We stayed at Phoebe and chatted for a while. We really enjoy our nights at Phoebe as the place’s environment is fun and the staff is very welcoming.

Monday — 8th July

Back to work! We usually start our weekdays at 7.00am by getting ready. We leave Xiamen University at 7.40am in order to get to Red Dot at 9.00am. We get the bus 29 or 2. These buses takes us to Zhenhai Rd where we take the metro to Gaoqi Station. From Gaoqi Station we take a mini bus to Red Dot. The whole journey is 1 hour and 10 minutes for just 7¥ (80p).

This day was our first Monday in Red Dot as last Monday we didn’t have to work. Monday’s in Red Dot are different from any other day of the week because the museum closes on Monday’s. It was slightly challenging to work on Monday’s because the air conditioner of the whole museum is managed by Gaoqi International Airport and because the museum was closed, Gaoqi International Airport did not turn it on. Nevertheless, our colleagues managed to allocate us in the only room with an air conditioner. Gareth and I continued doing the same tasks we were assigned from the beginning of the internship. However, Chloe and Naomi were assigned few different tasks from their managers. At 12:00, we joined our colleague Austin for lunch. We went to a Chinese restaurant where I had rice with scrambled eggs and tomato – rice, obviously, is very popular in China and in different places you can even refill your bowl of rice free! After lunch, we still had another hour to nap. Therefore, we went back to Red Dot and we napped in the sofa area. Naps after lunch are also very popular in China, with most workers napping at their desk.

As I belonged to the Product Design Department, I was assigned to do research about Social Design and find cases that can provide creative solutions to social problems by design thinking. The task might be long but I enjoyed working on this task as it gave me a better understanding of the new technologies and how design can actually affect our lifestyles.

Later on, our colleague Zoe took us to the staff entrance to have our fingerprints taken. Fingerprints are a form of attendance at Red Dot. Thus, every morning and afternoon from 9.00am to 9.30am and from 6.00pm to 6.30pm we will have to have our fingerprints taken for attendance and security reasons.

After work we went back to our rooms by taxi, we went and relaxed for a bit and then had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in front of the Emall shopping Centre.

Week 3

Saturday:

Today we ate at the buffet together again at lunch time, before heading to Nanputuo Temple. We got lots of photos here, it is such an impressive temple, with its curved rooftops and golden statues. We then walked up the steps at the back of the temple that climbed up the mountainside through the jungle. Naomi and Aitana decided to head back, leaving me and Chloe to climb the rest of the way to the summit, which offered amazing views of the university area. (Definitely worth doing despite the 34-degree heat and 80% humidity)

Chloe and I then descended the other side into the Wanshi Botanical gardens. We explored this area for a couple hours, taking in the views over Xiamen and also looking at the Cacti, Bamboo and various other exotic plants. We then made our way back to the accommodation via Zhongshan park, where there was live music and locals playing games.

As a four, again we made our way to dinner at the local Pizza place before heading out to a bar with one of the other interns in Xiamen.

Sunday:

Feeling a bit rough from the night before, the four of us decided to have a relaxing day. We ate lunch together at a western restaurant called ‘4 People’. Afterwards we lay on the beach for a few hours, sunbathing and eating street food by the beach.

We then went for dinner in the evening, followed by the cinema, where we managed to watch the new Lion King movie in English!

Monday:

On Sunday night, Monday morning I felt very ill, me and Chloe didn’t get a lot of sleep between visits to the bathroom. And it turned out Aitana and Naomi were feeling somewhat similar when we saw them in the morning.

After WeChatting our managers, we took the decision to have a day resting up in bed. Our managers and Xiamen staff were very supportive of us. They offered to show us to the doctors and asked if there was anything they could do. I luckily came prepared for this sort of thing, so I had lots of tablets and sachets to help us.

Tuesday:

Feeling better, we all headed to work today. I got into my projects again. I have been given mainly research tasks to help the museum improve visitor engagement, promotion and attract more visitors. This involves me applying some of marketing theories from University such as the marketing mix to bench mark Red Dot against competitors such as the V&A Museum and the Design Museum, both of which are in London.

Working in China is very different to the UK, everything seems to be less time sensitive than when I worked at JLR and I can see from this why we had problems with JLR China. The dress code is so relaxed, with some interns coming in wearing gym clothes. I was definitely way over dressed in my shirt and trousers.

After work, I found the University gym and managed to get a work out in before tea.

Wednesday:

I started the day with a new task from my supervisor. She wanted to know what international days there are worth celebrating by the museum. For example, international design day etc. So, I spent most of the day making an extensive list in excel, I then added a feature that looked up todays date, and matched it the list of international days, returning the days being celebrated today. This was a useful feature that really helped my supervisor.

At lunch time we were relaxing in the Space area (An area with comfy sofa’s and coffee tables). After work, we went for dinner and then headed to Phoebe, the local bar we have all become fond of.

Thursday:

I started the day continuing the research around promoting the museum; I have been looking at everything from their pricing to being creative and thinking of different ideas to promote the museum such as pop-ups, give-aways and mini museums.

After lunch, my supervisor asked me to audit their website. I began going through all the content on their website to check the English was correct first, and that it was presented well. I then began noting down ways they could make it better for the reader, such as making content more obvious and not hiding important detail such as admission prices 3-4 clicks form the landing page.

Friday:

I began the day finishing off looking at the website. I sat down with my supervisor to show her the research so far and the suggestions for the website, which she was pleased with. She gave me some direction to dig deeper into certain areas.

I spent the rest of the day after lunch looking into potential events that the museum could run outside of museum hours, such as talks and live music.

In the evening, Michelle and Lucy took us all to a Mexican restaurant for a meal and I have arranged with my manager to get food next week with her.

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