Beijing Summer 2015

*Due to circumstances in China with wordpress being blocked, these posts could not be posted on time, and are therefore being posted in one go.

7 June 2015

Good morning everyone! My name is Seung Hee (Teresa) Jeong, and I am a rising junior at ND. I am a Finance major, and I spent the summer at the SIBC sponsored internship in Beijing, China at the Notre Dame Asia office. I had never been to China, and I also don’t speak any Chinese, so to say that I was nervous is an understatement. However, I was also excited to move out of my comfort-zone, and to learn about a whole new culture, especially one as rich and deep as China’s.

I touched down in Beijing on May 24th and after roughly 12 hours on the plane, it felt good to have my two feet on the ground. The first thing that strikes you in Beijing is the people- Beijing International Airport is one of the largest airports I have seen and yet it is absolutely packed with people. This was only the first taste of Beijing’s packed population: the next morning, on my way to my first day of work, my partner and I were literally squashed wherever we went be it on the streets, in the morning train, or even in the elevator up to the office. While it can be tedious if you are running late (which, thank goodness, we never were), the sight is really awe-inspiring. People are packed into tiny spaces, and then you see a literal flood of people leaving the train into the station. I’d imagine that if you were watching from the sky, it would look something like when ants swarm around the entrance to an anthill. Even after two weeks, I am still amazed at how the people move here.

Our first weeks of work really focused on the Business and Culture in China summer program (or as we called it the BCC program). Amongst all the paperwork that was required and the copious planning, there was the fun part of planning a cultural scavenger hunt for the students that allowed my partner and I to go to places such as the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace, and the Olympic Park. It was fascinating to look around, especially the Old Summer Palace where there is so much history embedded in the site.

Old Summer Palace Pagoda

Old Summer Palace Pagoda

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

"The Bird Nest"

“The Bird Nest”

VIP lounge inside the Olympic Stadium

VIP lounge inside the Olympic Stadium

28 June 2015

The past three weeks went so quickly; I’m still surprised at where the time went. I cannot believe that I have spent five weeks in China already, but time has flown by. The last three weeks were completely jam-packed with work: with the arrival of the BCC program students. Our work was divided between the office work- marketing materials, transcripting videos and interviews, etc.- and guiding the students on their cultural and business tours. Due to my language barrier, the work ended up being split so that I took the students on the cultural tours along with a guide, while my partner took them on their business tours.

I really enjoyed those weeks with the BCC students, because we went to so many famous cultural locations such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, some temples, a contemporary art district called 798, amongst others. My personal favorite was the Great Wall, and the Llama temple: the day we went to the Great Wall it was like luck was on our side because the air cleared and it was probably the most beautiful day during my trip. The view from the wall was incredible, and no pictures that we took could do the scenery any justice. When you stand on the wall and look out, it really feels like you could fly the sky and hills are so beautiful. You can also read the history of the wall in the chipped stones, the sloping stairs, and the lookout posts.

The Llama temple on the other hand was amazing in the details that we could see in all aspects of the temple. The statues themselves are absolutely awe-inspiring, but what really captured my attention was the detail they put into the buildings that housed the statues. There were patterns and designs of flowers, clouds, the sky and nature painted into every crevice of each temple. Unfortunately the dim lighting made it difficult to capture the full picture, no pun intended, but even from afar you can see the patterns on the buildings as seen in the picture below.

Tiananmen Square at the Forbidden City with the BCC program

Tiananmen Square at the Forbidden City with the BCC program

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

View from the Great Wall

View from the Great Wall

Llama temple with the BCC program

Llama temple with the BCC program

12 July 2015

I cannot believe how fast time has gone. It is already the end of my seven weeks in Beijing, and I honestly don’t know where that time has gone. Although I have learnt so much, I feel as though I still have so much still I want to do. I suppose that is one downside to going to a place with several thousand years’ worth of history. The final weeks of the internship were focused on moving onto new projects after the BCC program was successfully completed, as well as moving the office. Our office moved from where we had originally been in the western Haidian district near Peking University, to the Chaoyang district, right by the US Embassy and closer to the business hub of Sanlitun. Amongst the moving fiascos, we were focusing on three big projects: a culture trip to Shanghai and Hangzhou for the Beijing Language Program students, a parent’s handbook for students coming to ND from the greater China region, and researching and creating learning modules for a leadership “camp” called I-Led, hosted at ND for international high school students over the summer.

At the end of my internship, I find myself reflecting on the experience as a whole, and what I have learnt as well as some regrets that I have. I think what I have learnt most from my work, amongst other things, is the value of time management and also being very flexible: our work was usually set for us with a deadline of about two weeks, but every day we went into the office there would be additional work that had to be completed by the end of the day or by the next morning. This definitely helped to hone my time management skills, and it also taught me how to work in an ever-changing environment. I also learnt quite a lot about the Chinese culture, especially in terms of their food. It is interesting to see how different the dishes are in different parts of China, and you find there is a cultural influence from these differences as well. If I had to state a regret, it is that there is still so much more that could be learnt, and I did not have the opportunity to further explore the rest of China.

Authentic Beijing Duck!

Authentic Beijing Duck!

However, I can say that this experience was one of the best summers of my life, and I am grateful to SIBC for giving me the opportunity. It has been an amazing time in this historical city, and I loved every minute of it. Thank you SIBC and thank you Beijing!

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