The first few days of my internship have certainly been different. First and foremost, my company is located in a hutong, which is a more traditional neighborhood with older houses and narrow streets. Needless to say it was not what I expected but is an experience. On my first day my supervisor introduced me to all of the employees, about 20 people who almost all speak at least a little English. The building is more like a traditional one story house than an office, complete with a small kitchen and outdoor courtyard. It is a very homey atmosphere with wood and stone throughout. There are also pictures from various competitions hung up haphazardly on the walls. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a delicious Chinese lunch is prepared every day for free. This has been a great way to hang out with coworkers and chat, even though most of their conversation are in Chinese. The younger employees all go out for a walk around the area after lunch, which makes for even more bonding time.
So far I have been going on NASA’s website, reading lesson plans for science experiments, creating a database of said experiments, and summarizing the ones ITCCC is interested in. While these tasks seem simple to me, I understand why I have been given the task. All of the science vocabulary I read is not difficult, but certainly would be for a non-English speaker. After all, words like “thermodynamics” and “centrifuge” are not exactly what is covered in most language classes. I believe most interns are simply being used for their English skills for now, so we will see what happens in the next few weeks as we build trust with our supervisors.
During my time here I would like to develop my Chinese language skills to a realistic point, so I am looking forward to the classes starting. I would also like to improve my professional and interpersonal skills through talking to coworkers and discovering more about the company and industry. Many of the employees go around to schools to talk about competitions and present curriculum’s’, so I would like to go with them eventually and see Chinese schools. Since I am not sure exactly what I want to do as a career I am open to experiences and doing as much as I can while I am here. Mostly, I am just excited to be in China and have fun deciphering the different culture. I believe the skill of adaptation, learning new ways and being open to them, is extremely important and will help in the future. Things will not go the way you expect, but it is how you handle it and having the confidence to do so that matters, and this whole experience will surely build onto that.