Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 32: One-Month Aniversary

Our final week in Nanjing is coming to an end, and this means it’s time to say farewell to our colleagues at our internships and our homestay families!

For breakfast I had matuan, congjianbing, and suannai with my host family, and then rode the bus for about 30 minutes to my internship. My internship was at Sinotrans, a state-owned transportation logistics company, and most of the work they do involves planning out the routing of shipments of goods being exported from China. This is a field I had never really considered before, although I am very interested in international trade. 

Although the work was pretty difficult, as it mostly involved reading long technical documents in Chinese, my boss was very understanding of my needing several minutes to read a single page of documents and gave me relatively free rein to work at my own pace. The project I was investigating was specifically about taking wind turbines manufactured in Chongqing and Xinjiang in Western China and shipping them to Iowa, where they will be installed at a wind farm. The amount of planning that goes into this is much more intricate than the average package sent via UPS, as might be expected when the package weighs several hundred tons and is too large to fit on a standard container ship. As my boss explained, their options for ports they can ship these components to and from is severely limited just due to their sheer size! My contribution to this project involved researching labor standards in the midwest, through the different states they were looking to hire truck drivers from to transport these wind turbines from the port to the final destination. In addition, I did a lot of research about the industry in general, including the details about different ports in the US and abroad and how different transportation methods work together.

Since it was the last day, I had already finished up most of my work for the week, and didn’t have much to do. I mostly observed my coworkers as they worked, and tried to get a better feel for the day in the life of the average Chinese office worker. I think I will miss the daily nap time after lunch if I end up working at a US company, although I hear that Google and some tech companies have similar benefits…

After saying goodbye to everyone in the office, I boarded the bus back to my homestay, where I ate dinner one last time with my host family. They bought a roast duck for the occasion, along with several home made dishes, and most importantly a giant pile of duck tongues! They then chided me the whole dinner for not being more enthusiastic about eating from the plate of duck tongues, as I muttered excuses in broken Chinese about why I didn’t need to eat another three. Not that I dislike duck tongue, but “I’m not particularly hungry” is not a valid excuse in China, especially when you’re an American and a guest in the home whose duty it is to eat the same amount as the entire family combined!

With our time in Nanjing coming to an end, it feels like it’s been so long and yet so short a period of time. It’s hard to imagine we’ve been in China exactly one month as of today! Even if I’m sad to leave Nanjing, I’m excited to set out for our final destination tomorrow afternoon. Shanghai here we come!  

- Andy G

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