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Keziah Doudy, Our Business Development Intern Shares her experience in China so far
I am currently in Beijing, interning with Duapa Africa for two months. No prior expectations were held, as I wanted to start my experience with as clear a mind as possible, and accept everything Beijing had to offer. The only emotion I remember feeling was excitement at the prospect of adventure. I only realised the level of the commitment I made once it was too late to back out and I was already here. Living for two months in a country, a city that I had not visited even once. It’s a big leap of faith. A massive one even. However, one I am grateful for taking. The growth that comes from being pushed to the edge of your comfort zone makes all the difficulties you encounter worth it. Here are some small lessons I have learned from my time in Beijing so far:
- Most important of all, be open minded. I was exposed to sights, sounds, smells and tastes that I had never encountered before, and that I did not like at first. But be kind to yourself, and be kind to China and give it some time to settle and acclimatise yourself, and you will see the things you may not have been used to, either you don’t mind so much anymore, or you now love! Try everything at least once, and remember that to be open minded is to allow yourself to broaden your horizons, to be more flexible, daring and brave.
- Don’t be afraid to stand out. Chances are in a place like China, you will stick out like a sore thumb. Try not to fear, it. Rather, embrace it, be proud and don’t let it impact the degree to which you engage with and immerse yourself in the Chinese culture. After all, you’ve come all this way. Take it as an opportunity to develop and reinvent yourself, do and try things that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to at home.
-Beijing has taught me be to be more patient, from dealing with some connectivity issues to the massive crows on my daily commute to and from work, and the hectic Beijing traffic. Take things one day at a time, find the good in every day, and the days get easier as they go along.
-- Learn the language! Learn a few everyday phrases like “Hello how are you?”, “How much is it?”, “Where can I find…?”. It goes a long way. I thought I could finesse my way through when I got here, but that was not the case at all. Not many people speak English here. But look at it as a positive and the opportunity to expand your language skills, which is never a bad thing. Learning the language of a place you are visiting also goes a long way with the locals, and helps make a good impression.
These are just a few tips I have to share with you, after nearly 2 weeks living in Beijing. In such a short time, I have already learned so much, and I look forward to the new adventures and lessons that are yet to come.