Volunteer Review: Savneesh B., General Business Projects in China
China - best selection!
If someone told me I was going to China a year ago I would have laughed and said no way! I had never traveled independently anywhere and I knew it would be a life changing experience living and working in China. This was a complete understatement – it was better than I had ever imagined.
Arriving to Chengdu
Landing in Chengdu was a weird but exciting feeling. I had no idea what to expect. A Projects Abroad member of staff waited for me in arrivals and I was so glad she spoke fluent English! I was taken to the apartment I was going to stay in for the rest of my trip. The apartment was fully air conditioned and I had my own bathroom which was a lot better than I anticipated. I then had a one hour Mandarin lesson which was VERY useful. Chengdu doesn’t attract a large amount of tourists like Shanghai does but that’s what’s so great about it!
First-hand experience of the Sichuan culture was a great eye-opener. I went to lunch with a member of staff from the Projects Abroad team along with a couple of my house mates. The restaurant we went to was very traditional and it was the first time I had experienced proper Chinese food unlike the “adjusted” versions of Kung Pow chicken back home. I was expecting to buy imported products like pasta from the supermarket everyday but after the first day I rarely felt the need to go to the supermarket.
Sichuan cuisine was a mixture of sour and spicy blends and adjusting from western food was not a problem for me. I loved the food and it was one of the great things I loved about China. And around every corner there was an option to have American and Italian food which was nice every now again. BUT it’s true what they say – the Chinese have a very particular taste in foods. From cat to turtles to pig brains to ducks head, the experience was very interesting. (I was surprised in myself that I tried three out of the four!).
My Business placement
On the first day of my work placement at a Consulting firm near the center of Chengdu, I wasn’t expecting to be given any responsibility. I thought my job role would simply consist of admin duties and shadowing management. But it was the complete opposite. From day one I was given tasks that were to be submitted to clients a week later. I knew I wanted to work in a specific field of consultancy but I had no idea which one.
My manager helped me choose which area I wanted to pursue and he was great with steering the work I was given in the direction I was interested in. I was also asked to give weekly updates to my manager on the progress of my work and because there was a motivation of responsibility, I was always given positive feedback. I still keep in touch with the colleagues I worked with in Chengdu, and my former manager is assisting me with my dissertation on implementing Western Management Styles in China. I’m predicted a first!
Weekends and leisure time
At the weekends we were free to do whatever we wanted to. From shopping in busy markets, to watching panda’s at the Panda Park and visiting the Sichuan Opera, I didn’t want to go back to my ordinary life at home. One of the highlights of my trip was visiting a bear sanctuary a bit further out from Chengdu. It was arranged by one of the Projects Abroad staff. Having the privilege to see such an amazing place made me appreciate my time in China.
After my placement I decided to visit Shanghai. From living in such a cultural city I was excited to experience a modern and fast paced life style. Projects Abroad organized my flights and my accommodation – I wouldn’t have lasted two minutes without them. I saw some fantastic things and I took 500 pictures back home with me. Standing in the Pearl Tower (one of the tallest buildings in the world) was one of those speechless moments where I felt so lucky to be in a place like China.
The whole experience
Looking back on my experience, I chose the right country and the right city. After having people chase me down the street to buy fake “Beats” headphones and experiencing crazy taxi rides and eating weird and wonderful foods I wouldn’t have changed anything about the time I spent in this vibrant country. I keep in touch with the people I worked with who are offering me great opportunities and keep in touch with friends I made in China from America and France. My Projects Abroad experience was the best experience I have had to date and I would advise anyone to take up the opportunity to travel the world.
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.