Volunteer Review: George U., General Journalism Projects in China
Arriving in China
After finishing university, I knew I would need more experience in Journalism, to attract the jobs I wanted. Even though I wanted to do an internship abroad, it was just as important for me to get the opportunity to travel in my free time. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that China was the best destination for me to not only do an internship, but to travel and experience a different culture as well.
I have always wanted to go to China, because the culture is so different from my own; it was an experience I was looking forward to. Shanghai was quite overwhelming when I first arrived, and it didn’t help that it’s one of the biggest (and busiest) cities in the world, with a language I didn’t understand at all.
However, I overcame these barriers very quickly, mainly by throwing myself into the lifestyle, and trying to do as many different cultural activities as possible; Shanghai is such a big city that there’s never a lack of entertainment.
I soon grew to love the quirks of the Chinese culture – the mass sharing at mealtimes, the obsession with karaoke (which is much better than you’d think it’s going to be), or the haggling at the endless fake markets. Looking back, England now seems pretty boring in comparison!
Living in Shanghai, China
Living in a flat, in the middle of the city, was a brilliant way to immerse myself in the culture, as I was forced to be independent and learn many things on my own. You would think that not having clean water, and trying to sleep in such a loud city would take forever for you to adjust to, but my life in Shanghai quickly became second nature.
For example, when I started my journey, I did not enjoy Chinese food; having rice and/or noodles every day can quickly become boring, but I soon found that the food was completely different to what I was used back at home, and much better.
The high turnover of flatmates meant that I got to meet loads of different people from all over the world, which was another great opportunity to learn about other cultures. All the other volunteers were incredibly friendly and welcoming, and we became a really close-knit group. Nights out to clubs and restaurants were regular, which really helped me get the most out of my experience in Shanghai.
My Journalism Placement in Shanghai
I was lucky to get a placement at a publishing company called, Time Out. This was the perfect publication for me to work on, because I got to take part in quite a few activities as part of my job, including the highlight of all events, the Shanghai Beer Festival.
I acted as an assistant to all the editorial staff, which meant that there was a lot of mundane tasks to do. I felt that I got a good overview of how a magazine functions, and some employers were really impressed by the work I did during my internship.
At first, I was worried that working five days a week would make it hard to enjoy Shanghai, but writing about such interesting places and events, kept me busy during the evenings, so much so that it barely felt like I was working at all.
It was especially nice working with a mixture of Chinese people, and other people from the UK, who had come to China, and who I got to know as well as the other volunteers.
Traveling on Weekends
I could have spent my entire time in the city, however, the noise and the pollution can get to you after a while. It was nice to have the opportunity to travel on weekends, and to explore China to the fullest. The countryside felt completely different to the city – it was a lot prettier and featured the kinds of landscapes you would never see in Britain.
Visiting places like Guilin, the Yellow Mountains, Beijing and the Great Wall of China made my internship abroad feel like a proper traveling experience.
It was incredibly sad boarding the plane to go back to England, but at least I felt completely fulfilled after my time in China. I can’t wait to go back one day!
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.