Xiéxie Beijing!

I can’t believe my flight home is this week. Although I’m ready to see my family, friends, and hometown. I’m definitely going to miss all the people who came on this trip with me, the people I’ve met here, and the culture I’ve been experiencing for the past 2 months. Even though it’s only been 2 months, it feels as if I’ve been here for much longer because time seems to move so quickly here.

Saying goodbye to my coworkers and the company I interned for was extremely difficult because I felt as if I became part of their family. I’m extremely grateful for all the lessons they taught me. Professionally, I learned so much about time management, cultural awareness, and patience. The experience was also useful for helping me practice computer skills on Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. I even played around with Photoshop and WordPress a little bit, which was interesting because I’ve always thought of myself as more of an analytical person. This helped me become more open-minded about potential career paths. Finally, I really enjoyed the fact that I interned at a small company because it allowed me to the see the immediate impacts of my work, which is truly rewarding. For example, my supervisor put some of my property introductions directly into client proposals, the blog posts I formatted on WordPress will be published on the website, and the Excel sheets I made will continue to be utilized to track progress on different projects.

Although I learned so much professionally, the biggest impact this experience had on me was through personal growth. Thinking back to the beginning of this trip, I think every single one of us matured and had our perspectives changed at least slightly.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the trip:

  1. I learned a great deal about the importance of time management, which has never been a huge strength for me. Taking part in the research and planning aspect of weekend trips and after-work activities allowed me to really see how important it is to plan ahead and leave extra time for unexpected delays. I feel that this can help me better plan my daily schedule and be more productive at home.

2. Paying attention to how people interact with each other made me think about courtesy. I noticed that on many escalators, people stand to the right side so that the left side can be used by people who want to walk and move more quickly. This is something so simple but it made me think about all the ways that people can be more aware of their surroundings and put others first.

3. The prevalence of phone use here is even bigger than at home in my opinion. Although social media isn’t huge, everybody is either playing a game, listening to music, making a call, texting, or reading news articles. This made me appreciate all the dinners we had together and activities we did when nobody was paying attention to their phone.

4. This experience showed me that it’s important to appreciate the little things. I finally gave in to getting a haircut here because although I was nervous to, I really needed one. The barber made cutting hair seem like an art and it was so different than getting a haircut at home. I learned that even an experience as insignificant as getting a haircut can make an impact and give me something to remember.

5. Communication is extremely important and interesting. Firstly, there were some mishaps when it came to meeting at places that could’ve been easily avoided with better communication. I feel that this is an important lesson as it applies to both professional and personal life. Secondly, it’s so interesting how essential communication is to our daily lives and I hadn’t realized it until this trip. Sometimes it was so difficult doing something as simple as ordering food or asking for directions to the nearest bathroom. The language barrier was very difficult to overcome at times, but it forced me to be creative and inspired me to attempt to learn a new language because many of the people I met here are multilingual and I admire them for it. Finally, despite the language barrier, I was able to communicate with people in a different way, namely through non-verbal cues. This made me appreciate methods of communication other than talking, such as smiling and nodding. For example, I was standing on the subway and watched a man jump on as the doors were closing. He couldn’t speak English, but we made eye contact and laughed about it together. This is something really insignificant, but it was so interesting to know I shared the same thought and had the same reaction as someone who doesn’t speak the same language.

Last weekend I sat at a rooftop bar at night with two new friends from this trip and overlooked Beijing. If someone had told me a year or two ago that I would end up in such a situation, I definitely wouldn’t have believed them because going somewhere with a completely different dominant language and culture was way out of my comfort zone. I’m so glad I decided to go on this trip because it helped me grow so much personally and professionally, and showed me that I can adapt to any situation I’m placed in.

I’m so grateful for all the memories and friends I made through this experience and while I’m sad to be leaving, I’m also excited to be back home.

Taken at our last weekend trip to Longqing Gorge:

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