China: Erin Schmidt - August 14, 2006

China: Erin Schmidt - August 14 , 2006

My last blog. It is both a happy and sad occasion. I’m at the point in my trip when a traveler begins to discard ‘unwanted’ clothing, in my case jeans that no longer fit, t-shirts that will take up too much room, and socks and underwear I bought at Meijers with the specific intention of leaving behind. Having an apartment of my own however, has made packing a bit more involved. Now as I pack up my belongings I am also forced to clean up after myself (last time in the dorms I left my room ‘as is’ and never looked back). My bathroom sink made entirely of clear glass is now strategically shielded with napkins to avoid water spots from my toothbrush in the morning.

My stay and internship in Wuxi has been good. Sticking my toe briefly into the pool of professional-realism alone has proven to be a good decision. My schedule of waking at 6:30, returning around 5:30, going out for a run at 6:15 followed by shower, dinner, and DVD/reading was not a simple schedule to master as simple as it may be. It was good personal experience to figure out how I alone want to spend my weeknights. I can’t imagine having the energy to do much else.

I’ve never lived completely alone so this too was a new and, in hindsight, welcome experience. The first night I remember hearing every noise inside and out, I was so tired and so petrified I couldn’t sleep or watch guard. Eventually my fears turned into regular neuroticisms, like having to lock and relock the door several times before really believing it was secured, and I was able to a live semi-normal life. It was the uncertainty that unscrewed a few mental bolts that first night, but with time I have figured out which battles to fight and which to sleep through. I am happy to say that by the end of this internship I have slept through thunderstorms but not through my alarm clock…truly mastering selective hearing.

As far as my internship is concerned I’ve learned more about the workings of the company than anything else. I can see now that the strengths of my internship lie in the fact that I was given the opportunity to work with the Chinese counterparts to Grand Rapids headquarters and really listen to the problems employees were having with communication. I think my lack of business experience has me soft and still able to understand problems without being fogged by quickly seeking out the ‘business solution’. I worked hard on my assigned project while with the company, but I think much of my gained knowledge will be more in nonmaterial managerial skills. It was a really great opportunity for me to intern abroad for academic, professional, and personal reasons. I’m happy with my decision and grateful for GVSU’s decision in offering me the opportunity.

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