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Chopsticks, Temples and Great Views: Interning in Xiamen

Our students tell us about their Global Internship in Xiamen, China. For more information about our Global Internship opportunities, visit our website.

Week 1

Ugo and Laura tell us about week 1 in Xiamen

We are two of the three interns from Newcastle University taking part in the Xiamen Internship this summer. We are all first-timers in China and have had a very exciting first week exploring Xiamen and working at Amoysen Design communication co. ltd.

China has the second-largest economy in the world and we applied to this internship to not only gain global work experience, which today is extremely valuable, but to have the chance to experience working within this global giant. This internship is giving us the chance to apply skills learned during the past two years at Newcastle to real business operations, which is great.

We arrived into Xiamen airport on Saturday evening where we were greeted by our Chinese buddies. It was a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport (north of the Island) to Xiamen University Campus (south of the Island) and on arrival, our buddies helped us check in to our accommodation.

We woke up on Sunday morning to the gorgeous view of Xiamen University. We spent the day exploring Xiamen: this included the ‘twin towers’, one of which is a massive shopping complex with a huge number of restaurants and a cinema which we intend to check out later this trip (!). Our main concern was finding somewhere to watch the England-Panama World Cup game that evening. Last year’s interns recommended a bar called ‘Mojito’ and with trusty directions from some people we met at our accommodation block, we set off with a comfortable two-hour margin, to find the bar. What should have been a 20-minute walk, somehow managed to take us an hour and a half, unaware that we were in fact taking a tour of what felt like the entire island. We eventually made it, feeling very entertained and surprisingly pleased with ourselves and of course, the 6-1 win to England made it all worth it.

On Monday morning, we arranged to meet our buddies in one of the universities’ cafeterias (they have 5!) and were surprised to find people eating chicken drumsticks, soup and dumplings with noodles for breakfast. We were reasonably un-adventurous, and all opted for the little vanilla and chocolate muffins but by day 3, we had branched out to yellow egg-filled buns (Liu sha bao) and giant churros and have agreed to try something new every day.

 

 

View from the office

Every morning, we get the bus to work at 8.20am to be there for 9am. The bus costs 1RMB which is 12p! The morning journey is relatively calm however the bus journey home can get very packed with drivers not moving off until people have crammed themselves in to allow for more passengers. (No passenger limit!) We are all working for Amoysen Design Communication Co. They moved offices two months ago and are now located in a very stylish building on the 17th floor. The view is very impressive, we can see the sea from our desks and the office is small and modern. All of our colleagues were very welcoming and friendly, and we’ve found ourselves in a very comfortable and enjoyable working environment.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

We were all assigned individual projects and a supervisor, who we report back to at the end of each day with our ‘daily job brief’. Laura is designing a marketing plan for Amoysen and finding ways in which they can reach out to international companies and Ugo is gathering information on activities to do in London for creative professionals and creating a sample travel itinerary to present to Amoysen. We have a two-hour lunch break during which we can eat in the cafeteria or go out for lunch, and in the second hour, the office gets very quiet and the Chinese like to nap at their desks which we have wholeheartedly embraced. On our first day, both our buddies and ourselves were treated to lunch by two of our colleagues, which was both delicious and very kind of them. They took us to a restaurant and introduced us to the Chinese way of eating out, which we were huge fans of. It consists of unlimited rice and a huge variety of dishes for everyone to share.

 

 

Perks of the job definitely include the huge snack table, found in the corner of the office, which is covered in Chinese sweets and chocolates which we are encouraged to try, and do so without much hesitation. We were also delighted when they announced they would be bringing coffee into the office and were interested to find that they ferment it in the office themselves, by leaving it for 12 days in the sun to dry.

Our buddies have been very friendly, and we couldn’t have asked for more, they’ve made us feel very welcome. They’ve been a huge help in advising us on what food to order and pointing out what is vegetarian-friendly, which has proved to be a lot trickier than anticipated but manageable! The first time we had to fend for ourselves was a very interesting and entertaining experience, we went to a very small local Chinese eatery and after a lot of pointing and smiling, the chef was able to decipher the general gist of what we wanted – and the meal was absolutely delicious. Although slightly more complicated, we definitely felt a sense of satisfaction in being able to order on our own!

All in all, we’ve had a brilliant first week and we can’t wait to see what the next three hold in store for us. We really do feel increasingly grateful to have been given this opportunity and have the chance to fully immerse ourselves in this wonderful and exciting culture. First impressions: FANTASTIC.

Week 2

Lisa tells us about week 2 in Xiamen

 

The working environment at the firm is very relaxed and enjoyable. Our colleagues have made us feel part of the team from day one, always being approachable and ready to help whenever needed. We are all working on different tasks according to our interests, for example, I have been doing research on Italian design companies which could potentially join the CGD in the future, as similar events also take place in Milan and Florence. I was also asked to focus on Social media platforms, suggesting ways to improve both their Facebook and Instagram accounts. We work from 9 am to 5 pm with a two-hour lunch break that we usually spend at the canteen on the 4th floor of the building we work in. Every day the menu changes, but we can always find something tasty to eat with the Chinese traditional bowl of rice. So far, working at Amoysen has been very interesting and I can’t wait to work on new tasks in the next two weeks!

In our free time, we have been exploring the city, especially its restaurants, as we all are interested in trying as many local dishes as possible. On Sunday, we went to the beach and we spent the entire afternoon there talking, reading books and taking pictures. Once there, we realised that the Chinese do not wear bikinis but go to the beach in casual clothes! Therefore, we decided to adapt to the local culture and kept our dresses on.

On Tuesday, our buddies brought us to the city centre to watch the Incredibles (in English of course!). The cinema was located inside a huge shopping mall where we also found an amazing Taiwanese restaurant that we couldn’t resist. The food was fantastic, however, our Chinese friends were surprised when we ordered our own meal instead of ordering dishes to share, as sharing dishes is a tradition in China. Consequently, mealtimes in China are much more sociable and close relationships are formed with the people that you are eating with.

This weekend we are going to take the boat over to Gulangyu Island, but on Friday at 10pm, we will be ready to watch England beat Sweden and make it through the semi-finals (not wanting to jinx anything!).

Two weeks have already passed and I can’t believe we are halfway through this amazing experience but I look forward to learning and discovering new things both at the office and around the city!

Week 3

Laura and Lisa tell us about week 3 in Xiamen

Laura

I can’t quite believe that we’ve been in beautiful Xiamen for almost 3 weeks now! 3 weeks of delicious Chinese cuisine, heat & humidity, ‘Liu sha bao’ breakfasts, being the best interns we can be (!) and having to get used to constantly being the target of many curious eyes and finger-pointing from the locals. I can’t say I’ve gotten used to being taken photos of whilst the Chinese think we aren’t looking. We were even stopped by a family and asked for a photo this week!

My biggest achievement so far is that I can happily say I’ve finally conquered the art of eating with chopsticks. In Xiamen, I quickly realised, you either learn to eat with chopsticks or go hungry! I have proudly gone from stabbing at my food, looking very un-elegant and from one of our Chinese buddies giggling and telling me “don’t worry, you’ll learn” to being able to actually eat in a relatively normal fashion. We were offered forks in a more touristy restaurant this week, for the first time, and I felt very proud of the three of us when we were able to turn them down.

On Saturday night, we headed down to one of our favourite local bars, Mojito, (very well recommended by last year’s interns) to watch the semi-final of the World Cup – England vs. Sweden – and persuaded our Chinese buddies, who had never watched football before, to come along as we were determined to get them into the World Cup spirit. The 2-0 win was met with lots of cheering and shouting on our behalf, giving our friends a very lively first impression of a football match.

 

We continue on our mission to try every possible kind of Chinese food there is to offer and this week we happily came across a friendly-looking street vendor. We stopped to watch the impressive way in which he was making a wrap/omlette-looking food, and we got chatting to a very friendly monk, from the nearby temple of Nunputuo. On his recommendation, we all ordered a ‘jian bing’ and it did not disappoint, the street food here is even better than regular Chinese food, which itself is scrumptious. The fact that our dinner therefore cost us 5RMB (57p) made it even more delicious.

 

We’ve been working at Amoysen Design for 3 weeks now and the beautiful view from the 17th floor never gets old. It continues to be a very relaxed and enjoyable work environment, and we continue to enjoy our lunch naps very much. This week I have been reaching out to design companies across Europe, to promote the China Good Design Award, and hope to get some positive replies. This award allows Chinese products to enter the international market but also for international products to enter the Chinese market. The deadline for this year’s award is the 29th July and so it is crucial to branch out to as many companies as possible, both this week and the next. My supervisor, Jess, is very friendly and easy to work with. She has trusted me with the task of personally writing to companies, both big and small, from the US to Sweden. This task of writing professional e-mails is teaching me a lot and is very good experience. They have also informed us that we need to prepare short individual presentations for next week and have left us room to be creative about what we can include – from projects we have completed during our stay here, what we have learnt, to our personal views on the company and ideas we may have for them – which has taken some of the pressure off!

 

Lisa

On Sunday, we finally went to visit the famous Nanputuo temple, which is located right outside campus. There are multiple temples in that area, which are all surrounded by beautiful gardens. Since it was Sunday, there were many tourists around and most of them would stop in front of the temples to pray.

The weather was not great, it was cloudy and humid in the morning, but this allowed us to make it to the top of the Wu Lao Mountain only half drenched in sweat. The view from the top, which we enjoyed sitting on a big rock for about 2 hours, was breath-taking, especially once the sky cleared up!

Before leaving Nanputuo, walking near one of the biggest temples, we heard people singing so, moved by curiosity, we decided to enter the building. A Buddhist ceremony was taking place inside, so we decided to join in by singing along in Chinese after a lady monk kindly gave us a book to follow.

The visit at the temples was absolutely amazing and we would definitely recommend visiting Nanputuo to anyone coming to Xiamen!

This week at work I have been doing research on how to effectively manage social media platforms in a business context. By doing this research I had the chance to learn about different strategies that can be applied to promote the company on Facebook and Instagram, becoming more familiar with digital marketing and communication. I also focused on creating a plan for the company’s social media activity on a weekly basis, suggesting different types of posts that can be shared to attract followers’ attention. I was given this task according to my interests, which made me feel even more motivated to do a good job .

 

 

To conclude this fantastic experience here at Amoysen, next Friday I am going to briefly present my work to my supervisor and the managers, before enjoying the little party the company is organising for us to say goodbye. I can’t wait to celebrate this incredible month with the whole team!

 

 

 

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