This summer I traveled to Shaoxing, China for a two-month internship with a biotech start-up company. While I was there I translated marketing material and stayed with a host family. As soon as I arrived, I was immersed in an environment that was so unfamiliar to me – this experience was an eye-opening introduction to Chinese culture and Chinese business.
I worked for a small biotech start-up company that focuses on research and development of coagulation devices to improve in-vitro diagnostics. The company is just three years old but is looking to expand internationally. While I was there, I was the only native English speaker and translated marketing material from Chinese to English. This internship was both a challenging and inspiring insight into how I may use my degree in the future.
From the company retreat to the Shengsi Islands
The idea of an immersive experience felt very daunting to me. As I was the only foreigner at the company, I was most concerned with connecting with those around me. However many of the employees were young scientists from the local area and although our lives intersected mainly in the way of music and an interest in traveling to Beijing someday, we also shared a fascination for each other`s culture that connected us deeply.
Despite being in Shaoxing during its hottest months of the year, I found the area quite beautiful. The streets were lined with ancient canals and the houses sat between family crops. Staying with a host family was such a great experience for me as I gained insight into family dynamics as well as the value of family connectedness. While the family spoke little English and often communicated in their local dialect, they were extremely welcoming to me. The entire family was split between three multistory houses; and they quickly integrated me into their daily lives – we would often eat together, go on evening walks and travel on the weekends.
Admittedly, when I first arrived I felt quite lost because of how unfamiliar the language, culture and surroundings were to me. Yet this experience allowed me to confront the apprehensions that I have in my Chinese learning and allowed me to see progress through my struggle. I can now view these hurdles as tangible goals – and that is empowering to me. With humility and patience, I have begun facing these challenges and building a foundation for how I will spend this next year in China. Although I know I will continue to face further challenges navigating China, I know that I can only improve upon my understanding. This was a great experience for me and I would like to thank Push-kang Biotech Company and the Go Abroad Fund for continual support!