One aspect of China that I was particularly worried about was the weather and smog in the sky. I thought I would always have to wear a mask and I would be constantly sweating through my shirt. During my first week in China, I have been pleasantly surprised. The weather has exceeded my expectations and I have actually been able to look up and see the sky. Additionally, I did not expect to see the amount of wealthy Chinese people and fancy cars and clothing that I have seen. It has amazed me to truly get a glimpse into how much money some people in China (especially younger people) have.
One activity that was culturally informative was walking through the Forbidden City. This activity allowed me to visualize a lot of the history that I learned during the week lesson at UF. I found it eye-opening to see the structures that have been around for thousands of years, and used by many different emperors throughout Chinese history. It was also interesting to see the Buddha at the top of the Forbidden City and watch people praying to it. Although I have learned a little about Buddhism, I really got a better understanding of it after watching people pray and asking them questions about their religion and culture. Being that the Tiananmen Square and Forbidden city trip occurred during my first day in China, it was my first time truly experiencing the Chinese culture. One notable experience occurred in Tiananmen Square, while locals were trying to sell souvenirs. It amazed me how persistent they were in following me just to try to sell me a book, even though they couldn’t speak my language. This taught me about the persistence of Chinese culture that I would experience again later at the Silk Market while haggling to try to get a good deal on same “fake” merchandise.
With the start of my internship next Wednesday, I hope to answer many of the cultural questions I still have. One of these questions is how to build and maintain a Guanxi network. Although I have learned a lot about the effects of Guanxi, without experiencing it first-hand I can’t know the true importance and impact it has. Additionally, I hope to learn how to tell when someone is being authentic, and when someone is being deceitful and just trying to save face. These two questions, along with other questions about the culture, are crucial to my success as an intern in China, and could help me be successful in the future as well.