I had to stick this video in here, just because it makes me laugh every time I see it. I just came across it in my camera and remembered I had it! We sure did make a lot of noise. This one goes out to all of the crazies that were at my house for New Years 2008 :) I'm still thinking of you from China!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Sometimes life just picks up the pace.
I found myself coming back from Beijing after Christmas break and being on the ground for all of 24 hours before I was on a plane again. This time to Indonesia. As I was away for Christmas, I could feel the pace of things picking up at work in Beijing as I continued to answer e-mails and work on projects, small and large, for the company that I was previously only a part-time intern for. A week before I returned to Beijing my boss informed me that I would be going with him to Jakarta and Bali, Indonesia. This is officially the first time I will travel internationally for business, but at the moment I’m on the first plane from Beijing to Singapore and it couldn’t feel more bizarre in this Chinese start-up. My job doesn’t have much definition, my boss is flexible, and I end up on projects ranging from marketing to finance and in industries as different as education and oil. Maybe a little overwhelming, but I constantly remind myself of two things that help keep me straight: A) Flexibility is a MUST and B) I’ll survive if I don’t know and understand everything that is going on in the situation.
Flexibility is always something I’ve known was necessary when you are a foreigner in China or just abroad in general, but having to accept the discomfort that comes when you are unprepared and unknowledgeable about a subject you are immersed in, and then finding the fine balance of when to act like you know what is going on and when to admit that you have know clue and ask for help…now that’s all something I haven’t had much experience with in the States. I tend to get myself into stepwise challenges that are more like “calculated risks.” I know how far I will be asked to leap, and I know that I am probably capable of leaping that far.
However, this experience surprises me every day. For example, I found out yesterday (during my one day back in Beijing, that I spent in the office before Indonesia) that I wasn’t just participating, but was expected to LEAD the discussions of two out of the three key products/services we were dealing with in Indonesia. During a meeting where we received some samples, they revealed this to me and told me to listen up- if I didn’t understand the Chinese I was to ask because I was responsible for communicating it all to the customer later. I had to start asking questions like a crazy person because this small company has yet to perfect a system of internal communication and very few people are as informed as they need to be. Well, nothing more to say than it sure is a good experience. I just arrived from Beijing, I’m now sitting in Singapore waiting on the connecting flight to Indonesia talking in Chinese to my Canadian boss, all after being in the US two days ago…and just thinking…isn’t it crazy where life takes us sometimes? And how fast it creeps up on you?
Posted by Stephanie at 11:31 AM
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I was back in New York last week, and had new impressions after living in Beijing for a year. The landmark retail stores of Manhattan are very cutting-edge and stylish compared to Chinese shopping. I loved walking into each place thinking everyhthing was great, well-designed, or one-of-a-kind. However, there is a trade-off for that design and that is price. Cheap shopping is rare in NY and stores with good taste can be very rare in Beijing.
One of the major impressions that I was left with was that N.Y. is incredibly dirty. It is often a misconception that China is dirty because many cities and especially Beijing, are receiving make-overs in recent years. The subway line I use every day to work was only openned last October! So the dirty streets and subways of NY were quite a surprise.
It was great to hear all of the languages on the streets in NY. Sometimes it seems like no one in NY is originally from the States, and when you are there, you are truly in the Melting Pot. Beijings population is more homogenous, although the foreign population is growing every year.
Buildings take up more space in Beijing, but many skyscrapers are taller in N.Y. There are no bicycle lanes in N.Y. and all the cabs are the same color!
Finally, NY seems to be a cultural and maybe business center of the US. However Beijing is the cultural and governmental center of China. You get a lot of the entertainment that you do in NY, but with more of a Washington DC feel from all of the governmental buildings and employees.
In the end, I think NY entertainment is extensive, but to live a good life it would be unaffordable. At least for now, I'll still take a fast-paced, clean, and cheaper Beijing as my city of choice.
Posted by Stephanie at 2:05 PM