Volunteer Review: Alyce H., General Business Projects in China
For all of you who are wondering if you should do a Business Internship in Shanghai, China, I’d say “yes, do it”! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have an experience that you will not get anywhere else. I was so happy that I took a chance and decided to go.
I spent three months in Shanghai, working at the operations department at Xintiandi. Over this time I worked with my boss to create a training and development manual for the organization’s hotel 88 Xintiandi. It involved a fair amount of research and many drafts of the modules of the manual and many long conversations with my boss Jan about what he wanted among other things.
My usual working day began when I left the apartment at 8am and walked through Zhongshan Park to the metro station. In order to get to work I had to catch two lines, this meant that I had to change lines each day at the very hectic People’s Square. I would turn up to work sometime after 8.30am but before 9am ready to start the day. For the first couple of hours I would usually be doing some research and typing notes. After lunch I’d do more research or I’d drop into my boss Jan’s office to have a chat about the project.
Sometimes the afternoons would involve participating in the training and development of the hotel’s housekeeping employees. The day would finish at 5.30pm, when I would catch the metro back home. I would usually get home sometime between 6 and 7pm, I would either make my own thing for dinner or our apartment would go out and eat somewhere and usually go out for a drink afterwards with friends.
Although I was working full time, I still managed to find plenty of time to experience Shanghai. I did the usual touristy things, such as the Shanghai Museum, Urban Planning Centre, Jade Buddha Temple, M50 Art Galleries, a boat cruise of the Hungpu River, getting a dress made at the South Bund Fabric Market and the World Expo.
I also managed to get out of Shanghai, one weekend a group of us went to Mount Huangshan. Walking up was tough (I wanted to catch the cable-car up), but watching the sun set and rise was well worth it. Another weekend we spent the day at a water village called Tongli. Before I flew back to Australia, I went to Hong Kong and Beijing. Both these cities were very different from Shanghai. It was nice in Hong Kong not having to look a dozen times before crossing the road for on coming motorcycles, cars, bikes or anything else coming your way.
Kevin, the Projects Abroad member of staff who had the responsibility of looking after us volunteers, would organize dinner at a different restaurant every couple of weeks. One time he organized a quiz, which was hosted by our apartment. Those involved managed to raise over 1000 RMB, which went to a charity chosen by the winners.
I will admit that before I got to Shanghai that I did not expect my social life to be as busy as it was. There is plenty of nightlife in Shanghai, especially in the French Concession and the Bund. It did not take me long to find some of my favorites and regular places. For about four weeks on Sundays our apartment went out to Tappenyaki for dinner.
The volunteers from my apartment and a couple of others spent a lot of time together; we came to be one big international extended family. I have to say the friendships that I built with these individuals were a fantastic support when I was going through a hard time with something that happened back home. They kept me busy and distracted when I needed it most.
I recommend that when you go to places that you like, grab a business card. These are useful to show the card to the taxi driver next time you want to go there. If you have an i-phone, download the Shanghai Taxi app, just about anywhere in Shanghai can be found. I know other people have said it but be up for anything, you may only be in Shanghai once. From singing at KTV or going out when you do not really feel like it…..DO IT return home having no regrets.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.