Daily Winner for: – 26th August 2013
Name of the intern: – Eric George
Institute: – Karunya University
Organization interned with: – International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE), China
Internships are great, more so when they are done abroad. It generally happens only once in a life time. I was really lucky to get an internship in China with Ningbo Xinrong Ji Investments located at Hangzhou. I got it through the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, commonly referred to as IAESTE. It is an international organization that provides technical students with paid, course-related, work experience abroad. My work place is situated in Hangzhou – one the best tourist spots in China.
Internship abroad was only an “icon” to me on the University website when I joined for my B Tech. The icon, however, was probably etched in my mind more strongly than I thought. As days passed, the icon began to play games in my mind, but I thought it would remain just as an etched memory and an unfulfilled dream. Destiny thought differently.
Enter third year, and a notice of the Internship offer on the notice board changed everything. The dream now pushed me closer to desire. I applied and waited with bated breath. Considering my interest, I had applied for China which offered Internship in Digital Signal Processors (DSP). I cleared the interview and got shortlisted. Initial reaction from my parents and friends were, why China? I was confused, but my experience changed the perception.
That was the easy part. The journey from then, till I landed at Hangzhou Airport was quite a nerve breaker, though a great learning. Here I was with an offer to pursue my dream, with an expired passport! Two failed attempts at the passport office brought my father down from Mumbai. Being a defense officer’s son sometimes has its pitfalls. We are more than a mere Indian. We seldom have a proper address proof, having to move from one place to another before we are able to establish an identity and an address. It took my father three whole days and a lot of convincing to a lot of people. I was soon, once again, a proud holder of a valid Indian passport. This time around it was the “passport” to my dream. Time was running out and I had a number of things to be straightened. I remembered the words my father always used “Nil desperandum”, roughly translated it means “Don’t Despair, Trust in God”. I did just that and also ensured that I left no stone unturned to fulfill my desire to reach the goal. He also used another expression “fire all your guns in salvo” – what he meant was, use all your resources, if required all at once. With some more desperate moments to get my VISA and air tickets, I finally landed at Hangzhou airport on 08th July 2013 on a warm evening. I am truly indebted to countless numbers of my relatives and friends who helped me through all these struggles.
Hangzhou, being one of the best tourist centers in China, really fascinated me. All the wrong notions about China soon vanished after I met my Boss and my company mates. They went out of their way to make me comfortable. So what, if many a time it was hand gestures that came to my rescue.
I had this new friend from Oman who was the other intern in the same company. We shared an apartment provided by the company. Apparently we were the only Trainees in Hangzhou, rest (students from other countries) were scattered elsewhere. Moreover, I was the only Indian in China through IAESTE. My work was to implement the Peakvu Algorithms into the processors and get Simulation tests done for flaw detection. Well, I was also supposed to ensure there was some culture exchange while I was there. I really looked forward to all these, with excitement.
Most of the Chinese never utter a single English Word. The Chinese Language is incorporated everywhere, from Digital Watches to the software I used for programming. I never, ever thought that I could be so lost for words, this time literally. I also never thought my hands could do so much talking!
If speaking was difficult, food was the ultimate. For the sake of ensuring some strength to my hands, (after all, I needed to communicate!) I had to ensure that I ate. I soon realized that the mouth watering “Chinese” back home had nothing to do with China at all, or was it that Chinese in China didn’t know how to prepare “Chinese”? Confused? I am still confused. After a number of stomach revolting days, theory of evolution finally clicked in, and soon I started to swallow, though not with much savor.
I soon realized that I was the youngest in the company (I am 20), but it took some time for me to adapt, because the Chinese look so very young. I was fascinated with their complexion and their eyes. (I have real big eyes!).
The company atmosphere is very friendly. In my university I had to wear only formals to the college and I had got used to it. So they were quite surprised seeing me in formals on the first day. Well, I thought it would be best to start with a bang, and so I donned myself in my brand new suit. My Boss and some other employees, wear half pants and sleeveless shirts. I was soon, short of shorts, as I had catered them only as in-house casuals. For our food, we go to a restaurant close by. The spread is so photogenic, but sadly not so “taste-o-genic”. My taste-buds and I had many a dreadful days trying to come to a compromise. Finally, as mentioned before, theory of evolution came to our rescue.
Every Friday, we have these review meetings, which I found very interesting. During these meetings we discuss the work we had done the week earlier and plan for the next. It is not like the formal ones that we see in the movies with black suits and red ties. The concept here is “eat while you talk” and bring out the best.
Getting to understand the Chinese culture was yet another important factor. This probably was not that difficult, coming from a country where a vertical or a horizontal nod could have entirely different meanings depending upon the place. Therefore, adapting to the Chinese culture was only a matter of time and some thought.
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit few a places in and around Hangzhou. This we did on weekends. The icebreaker with fellow IAESTE students in China was the three day trip to Huangshan Mountains, also known as China Yellow Mountains. This led to many other trips to each other’s places of Internship. Visit to the close by, West Lake was always there when nothing else materialized. Being “out-landers” we were always centre of attraction. We felt very important when we were asked to pose for photographs and greater still when we were granted free admittance to pubs. These visits were really enjoyable especially on weekends when there is a tendency to become lonely in a strange country. Company of strangers in a strange country probably brought in brotherhood of different sorts. Anyway, it was very comforting.
The work, the friends, the trips – all we enjoyed to the hilt. What I loathe now is the end of all this and my return to college for my final semester. Wish this could continue forever. That’s impossible, I know. But I really thank my stars for this wonderful opportunity which is preparing me for the real wild world waiting for me. Thank you Mr Han, thank you IAESTE, thank you China, thank you Karunya University and above all, thank you my parents.
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