Among the many things I have learned at this internship, I have learned that I do not know much of anything. Despite a lifetime of lessons and years of school, I still have so much knowledge to gain. Many times, I am asked questions about US policies and I have no idea what the answers are. However, I have become exceptional at playing it cool when I am confused. Not knowing the answers to questions has also afforded me an opportunity to learn more about policies that I am unsure about.
Aside from not knowing how to answer many of the questions I am asked, I have found that I do not know all that I should about Chinese culture. For example, I thought it would be appropriate to invite my department (about 8 people) to KTV. Everyone in the department that I mentioned it to seemed to think it would be a great idea, except for the managing partner of the department. He seemed put off by the idea that I would be the one to invite others. He thought that they should have invited me considering I am the guest. Seeing him upset reminded me that I really have no idea how things generally work here, and I am here to learn and not to assert my thoughts and ways of life onto other people.
After discussing how the partner reacted with a coworker, they explained that it is abnormal for a guest to invite the host company to KTV. Oops. It has been challenging to figure out how everything is supposed to work, but I learn new things everyday about myself, China, my colleagues, America, and the legal profession.
Everyone at my company is incredibly kind. I have made new friends and I have amazing lunch buddies. I have had the opportunity to learn about people’s personal lives as well as their work lives.
I was invited on a team building retreat with the rest of the Intellectual Property Department to a rural area 2 hours outside of Beijing. Everyone seemed happy to have me there. The first team building exercise dealt with picking fruits and veggies for dinner. At dinner there was a huge toast and my supervisor thanked me for coming and working with the company. (I have never received such a cool toast. I am not sure I have ever received a toast before at all.)
They also found it hilarious when my supervisor tried to teach me a toast in Chinese. I failed terribly. The best feature about this internship has been the company’s openness to having me here. They have been extremely welcoming, and I am becoming more comfortable.
While in Beijing I have discovered many dishes and snacks that I like. For breakfast, my favorite dish is the circle of dough filled with beans, or pork, or veggies. For lunch and dinner, I love the green beans with chili peppers in them. My favorite snack is the peaches I picked from the trees at the retreat. Hopefully, I can find more before I leave.