Dom Elliot - General Business Projects in China
I spent six weeks as an intern in a PR company called Sunnybund in Shanghai. I had a really wicked time. My office was full of friendly staff, most of whom could speak good English. My supervisor spoke English very well. even correcting some of my proofreading once! I had plenty of time to get to know my colleagues and even learn some Chinese while also getting some interesting projects to run. Probably the most rewarding of these was raising awareness for a fund-raising project for Shanghai's largest temple, the Jing'an Temple. I was given a free rein in this and had to take the initiative. I spent time out of the office rushing around to embassies and other places trying to get support and arranging a few meetings. I was also lucky enough to be able to go to the temple, meet the Temple Master and be treated to a delicious vegetarian Chinese lunch.
My (mostly journalism placement) friends and I were often offered chances to go to events and launches, which our companies were involved in. Amongst others, between us, we were invited to an exhibition and book launch, a fashion show, an awards ceremony, a free meal at a restaurant launch and (my favourite) the launch of the Porsche Boxster! All of these were really fun and gave us a chance to experience the modern and buzzing side of Shanghai. One of the best things about Shanghai is the nightlife. The weeklies let us know of special nights and local events and we tried out loads of different clubs.
We found plenty of western clubs - cheese, hip hop, drum & bass, and an awesome Chinese house club (Rojam! Go there - get up on the stage!), a punk concert and an open-air folk festival, where we managed to wrangle our way back stage as "journalists"! I found the key to really enjoying my time was to be up for anything. Oh and a quick Shanghai urban myth - you DON'T get a free breakfast if you stay at Mint until 7! When we couldn't be bothered to go out we had DVD and Reeb (cheap Chinese beer - genius name!) nights and flat parties which was all good.
We spent all our free time exploring the streets of Shanghai. There are many interesting traditional Chinese experiences to be had, from the Temples to the teahouses to the huge variety of cuisine: Chicken feet? Anyone? How about jellyfish?! There are also lots of tourist attractions to keep you occupied in the first couple of weeks from the Shanghai museum (supposedly the best museum in China but I got a bit bored!) to the fourth tallest building in the world, the Jinmao Tower, to the huge, cheap and fun markets. And you can always go off on excursions on the weekend to local towns or even the safari park!
I really enjoyed my time in Shanghai; I even spent a couple weeks extra, after I finished my placement, before I went off around China! I'm already thinking I'd like to go back in the future. It wouldn't have been possible without Projects Abroad and their cool staff who we went out with some nights. They made settling in really painless but also stood back so you could really be independent while you're there.