First week of Chinese classes and work, a business meeting in PuDong, visits to the Bund, exploring malls, and getting small glimpses of heaven through Xiao Long Bao.
Before the first day of my internship, I spent some time trying out my commute to work. I followed the suggested metro route proposed by Absolute Internship via email - this route took about 13 min by transit, and 22 min by walking. It wasn't until a week into the internship that I found a faster route to my workplace on my own.
Nevertheless, I am glad that I got to see the co-working space in person for the first time before my internship officially started. I took pictures of the entrance area, which was comprised of two sets of elevators and a cafe that was situated around the corner. Along the wall of the entrance, one can see the plate for the company I interned at, Paper Stone Scissors.
For my first Chinese class, I was put into a Level 5 class, which I thought was too difficult for me based on my current understanding of spoken and written Mandarin. Because it took the school about 3 weeks to find a teacher for me (as well as for some other participants who had a beginning to intermediate level of Chinese, like me), I hardly learned anything new from Chinese classes required by the UT intern abroad program, so it was hard for me to build off of knowledge I had received from taking Chinese language courses at UT. Naturally, during this intern abroad experience in particular, I learned the most from interacting and listening to locals.
First Day of Work
First day of work! Because I was pretty nervous, I arrived at the Paper Stone Scissors (PSS) office about 20-30 minutes early. I spent most of the day looking at slide decks of PSS policies and client project lookbooks.
We all ordered Vietnamese food in for lunch - at the end of lunchtime, they got out a big watermelon and cut it up for everyone to share and eat to conclude the meal. Getting out watermelon every day at lunch became so much of a ritual for me that I thought it was weird when I didn't have watermelon after certain meals outside of work, haha!
Because I deemed the Level 5 Chinese class too hard for me, I, along with fellow intern abroad participants, Anna, John, and Andy, got put into a Level 1 class. This class was a little too easy for me, as we spent the entire class learning how to tell time, but I still participated and learned new phrases here and there.
I found an easier route to use to commute to work. Instead of taking Jiashan Station to Changping Station, I took Jiashan Station to Hanzhong Station. In consequence, a good portion of my commute became quite scenic - every day, I walked alongside the Suzhou Creek and crossed a bridge to get to my workplace. During this week, I did research, learned how to create a master PPT template, and met a design intern named Maggie, who is originally from Beijing, but goes to school in Baltimore in the states.
I also got to look at examples of PSS' inhouse research slide decks, which would prove helpful to me later on when I would be asked to compile research into a similar format using Keynote.
One day after lunch, I was invited to attend a business meeting in PuDong with the creative director (whom everyone called G), the senior account manager (Olivia), and one of the graphic designers (Sam). On the taxi ride to PuDong, Sam and Olivia let me look at the creative brief/presentation they had prepared for the meeting. One of the main aspects I gathered from the meeting and creative brief was that PSS was helping Yizhou Group's Chairman of the Board come up with a new company logo design. It was interesting observing the cultural dynamic of the meeting, as the Chairman's broad, loosely-structured input about the logo design seemed to invite a lot of ambiguous room for interpretation. Essentially, one of the vaguer pieces of feedback he gave implied that if PSS made the "best" logo design, he would like it.
After the conclusion of the meeting, I got off work early and took a taxi back to People's Square Station. I took the metro back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day exploring the surrounding area by foot.