Still fighting jet lag, the nine new interns met up outside the gates of Hopson International Park (another name for our new home away from home) to be driven to our Induction and Orientation Day by the CRCC staff. We’re a close-knit bunch and depending on how far one traveled to Beijing, the jet lag tends to be better or worse. There are 3 Aussies, 4 Americans (including myself, although I do say I’m Thai to a lot of Chinese people…they just tend to look at me funny when I say I’m American…and can’t speak Mandarin), and 2 Brits among the group. I’d say CRCC gets mostly Western applicants to join their program.
The orientation day was jam packed with useful tips about doing business in China, etiquette, safety (which we’ve already learned about when it comes to crossing crazy busy streets), and other background information. Like how important the concepts of guanxi (connection) and mianzi (saving face) are in Chinese culture. Applying this knowledge will be of utmost importance when our internships start on Monday.
We also had a crash course in Mandarin at the Beijing International Chinese College (BICC). Our teacher Charlotte was fabulous and ran us through the ringer of basic grammar, initials, finals, and characters. Chinese characters are just so incredibly daunting, I am still trying to wrap my head around pinyin (the phonetic spelling of Chinese characters using Roman letters and tone symbols). We’ll be having weekly Mandarin lessons at BICC on Tuesday nights, which I am absolutely looking forward to as a language nerd.
After the long day, we all headed home via the Century Mart grocery store to try and pick up some provisions. Shopping in a Chinese grocery is quite daunting, as obviously everything is in characters and some items are just completely foreign to us, well, foreigners. Even buying bananas was an adventure as we neglected to have them weighed and tagged with a price before reaching the cashier because in the U.S. they weigh things there. But no, in China, you have to take them to the counter that says “scales” above it. Doh!
To end the night, CRCC threw us a huge banquet at the Seafood & Dumpling Restaurant which was delicious. We had all kinds of traditional Chinese fare, including my favorite Peking Duck (the crispy skin in the best), dumplings of course, pork and beef dishes, rice, vegetables. In addition to tall bottles of Tsingtao and Yanjing beer, we had to try a couple shots of the local moonshine, er, rice wine called baijiu. Oh my. That’ll take some paint off the metal.
Here are some more photos taken en route to the orientation. The photo in the upper right is the CCTV Headquarters building, also locally known as the “Big Pants”. Easy to take photos when you’re stuck in Beijing traffic!