When I initially started my internship in Hong Kong, my boss asked me if I ever considered working abroad. I answered that I wanted to travel this summer but I also wanted to intern, so I just combined the two; however, I had no intention on working abroad after I graduated. 8 weeks later I can say that my answer has completely flipped.
My internship has come to a close and although I did not get to see the end of it (I was part of the research and design efforts but only just started assembly. Luckily the other intern still has 4 weeks to build and hopefully complete it), I have learned so much more than I thought I was going to. My company gave me so much responsibility, trust, guidance, and independence…they gave me and the other intern a role that trusted, experienced engineers are usually tasked to do!
In addition, it was quite an experience learning all of this in an international environment. First and for most, start up culture is amazing. I love how young, bright, and creative the minds are here. My other boss said it himself, “If you’re not making money yet, you’re burning money”, explaining why start up employees are so driven and hardworking, especially if it is their own company. I am not sure of how it is back in the States, but in Hong Kong culture, companies take care of their employees by taking them out for food, for drinks, and for social gatherings; they want to build friendships. At first, myself and the other international interns were a little confused, but then realized they do this to create community and team trust and bonding.
However, my favorite thing about working abroad definitely was getting to meet all the people of varying cultures. Talking to them, observing their demeanors and habits, or openly comparing our cultures and asking questions was extremely fascinating to me. Besides those within my company, I was also able to meet 30+ other interns from literally every continent through The Intern Group program. I value certain things more than I use to; the importance of learning multiple languages, investing time and money into travelling, being open minded to different cultures, prioritizing self-care but also saying yes to different experiences, and most of all, letting meaningful connections form.
I feel that my 20 years of living have been very routine, especially in terms of people I have been exposed to. Sure, a lot of my friends are first or second generation, but we’ve all had Western culture influence us all our lives. To bond with people who live completely different lives has been such an amazing, eye opening experience. I came into with the intention of concentrating on myself, being independent, and saving my social energy for the Fall school year. Little did I know all the amazing people I was going to meet, who truly affected my outlook on life. My heart is warm and filled. I cannot describe the feeling. I have been more than just a tourist for; I was more than just studying abroad with people from my University (what I did last year)….I was living in a different country for 2 months, commuting like a local, going to work like a local, mingling, and buying groceries as an independent adult. I will never be able to describe in words what this experience has meant to me. I can only recommend doing something of this nature to anyone who has the opportunity to. Thank you Fund for Education Abroad for making this summer one for the absolute books.
Looking back at the blog posts I have written, I notice that most of them are lessons or observances I’ve made through my internship. Surely that makes sense; I spent 55 hours of my week at work (including the commute!). It has been a challenging, at times stressful, internship experience, albeit a rewarding one indeed! I think about my first blog post…how scared and intimidated I was. My the time my internship ended, my boss trusted me and, most of all, I had the confidence in myself to make decisions and perform tasks to the best of my ability.
Although I spent a lot of time at work…I cannot forget about all the other fun and cultural experiences I had as well. I went on hikes overlooking the islands, surfed on serene beaches, spent a whole day on a boat with the other interns, cliff jumped from a waterfall, night biked along the ocean, visited temples, had dinner overlooking the Hong Kong skyline, ate out ALOT…..I even spent one weekend in Thailand and another in Japan! I had absolutely the best time of my life here; a balance of work, travel, leisure, and friendship. What more could I have asked for?