Hi, how are you? I’m fine, though stuck inside with hazardous smog levels again. I’m doing my training exchange in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. This is my second venture to China. I studied in Shanghai University some years ago and fell in love with the Orient. The one word that can be used to described China is DIFFERENT. Here are some views of the country and everyday wonders of the city, but first let me introduce my workplace.
BeiZ is a mobile game company with studios in both China and Finland. We make educational kids’ games starring our fun and charming character Lola Panda, who teaches 3 to 8 year olds everything from maths to languages. Our vision is to become the market leader in our field. Our latest release Lola’s Pinyin Party, though only available in China, has kept its place at number one of the most downloaded iPad kids’ apps for weeks now!
On the roof of the best marketplace in town, overseeing the Temple of Heaven. Beijing is a wonderful city. Shopping is a sport. You have to bargain hard, but the final prices are ridiculously low. Good for a student!
Our office pet.
I feel right at home in East Asia and I didn’t feel as scared as I did moving abroad for the first time, but naturally the thick language barrier and overwhelming differences in our cultures do pose some practical difficulties. Luckily the Chinese are extremely friendly and helpful, and my colleagues have taken care of everything. My apartment is practically next door to the office so life is as easy as it can be (after some initial complications of course).
I enjoy working here very much. I take the difficulties I encounter as challenges and learning opportunities, both the professional and the cultural ones. Not always (read: not at all) understanding what is going on is probably the hardest part. On the other hand a game studio is a game studio: a relaxed work environment and not too different from home. But my workload is heavier than expected and I don’t have a lot of time or energy to play tourist or continue my language studies.
Eating is a very social thing here in China. So far I’ve tried frog, squid, some other tentacled animals, loads of new fruits and local dishes. This part of town is bustling with Korean expats and there is enough delicious Korean food available even for my endless appetite. None of the waitresses or shop keepers speak English here, but closer to the center of Beijing you can survive with no knowledge of Chinese language at all.
Here are some pictures of our first weekend trip together with my colleagues. They took me to the Great Wall, and it was a real adventure! I haven’t been able to travel much during my stay, but everything I’ve seen has been magnificent. Everything is different, wonderful, or at least worth a chuckle if you pay attention and look around you. Appreciating the small things is my theme of this trip.
To demonstrate the day-to-day obstacles I have, let me tell you about my visit to the super market today. I was going to buy shampoo, and I found an aisle that said shampoo, but there was not one single bottle that had a word of any language I could read on it. If I ask the shopping assistants, they will probably not understand me, or go on and on in Chinese, even if I say I don’t understand them (in Chinese). I’ve grown used to it and find it kind of amusing. Even the smallest tasks end up becoming adventures!
I’ll be happy to tell more stories and answer any questions if you are planning to go to China for your exchange!