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Colin's Adventures o' the Day

My first blog! to keep everyone updated on my escapades in China!

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 04 August 2010

Location: USA

Last days of China
Monday was my last day of work and was very normal for me but everyone else in the office was rushing around all day and I wasn’t quite sure what all they were doing. I spent the day tying up loose ends and saying goodbye to people. But then when it was about time for me to go home, my supervisor came in and told me I had to wait a while longer. There was no explanation and so I just sat. I figured it had something to do with my recommendation letter that I had asked for so I was in no rush to leave. I started getting antsy after a half an hour or so and so then I went wandering around the office to see what was up. I came out just as they were coming to get me. They had set up our big meeting room for a big going away party!
There was a long table full of watermelon and sunflower seeds and various other fruits and at least a hundred cups of beer. The whole company filed in (even the some of the workers I didn’t know) and the president explained to me that this was a western party with Chinese activities. I was quite excited and couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear. At first everyone sat around in the seats on the side of the room and the president started the awards ceremony! He talked about the other intern and me for a very long time and I quickly tried to translate everything to the other intern but was having a hard time because I was smiling too much! He gave us both special certificates of excellence that came in nice velvet cases. When we received these we had to give little speeches and luckily I had prepared a nice little thank you speech in Chinese. We got many rounds of applause and I was very proud and happy. Then the president and a couple of the managers gave us gifts. We both got large bags full of our company’s Grasp Guard along with photos from the course of the 2 months that the company’s photographer had printed out for us. I also got a thank you note and letter of recommendation from the president himself!
After this everyone got up and went around the table in the center to toast away. All of the managers gave toasts to the other intern and I and I gave my fair share of toasts as well. The president made-up various drinking games for everyone and picked random employees and made them drink up. Everyone participated because that was what the president said to do. I was enjoying myself and so were a lot of the employees as I could see by their Chinese pink faces. After a thorough round of toasts to the interns, the company, the president, and friends, we moved onto the watermelon. At this point in the evening, everyone seemed a bit more loosened up and when the music came on, everyone started asking me to teach them American dance moves! I figured there was no way to get out of this and reckoned I better just loosen up as well and pull out old originals like the moonwalk and running man along with the YMCA and electric slide. The other intern, Sarah, tried to teach everyone the dance to Cotton Eyed Joe, but that was a bit too complicated. I had a great time dancing with the president and the managers but most of the other employees didn’t join in with us. I could see them moving their feet around though. After a good round of dancing, took more toasts and then the president decided it was time for some singing!
Luckily I’m pretty decent at singing and have a few songs up my sleeve – so did all of the managers. People sang classical Chinese songs and Chinese pop songs and I threw in some Elvis, You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling from Top Gun (which I performed as a serenade to one of the girls that went out to lunch with Sarah and I every day and was crying while we said our speeches), and even a Chinese song that I had picked up over time. There were some very good singers in the company! The president and my buddy Seven were both very good and had quite an impressive repertoire. Sarah even sang a song! She sang Let it be and she was quite good too!
After this, we toasted more and the party started to wind down so that it was only the president, Seven, and a few of the other managers. We had a great time by ourselves and continued the party until all of the watermelon and beer was gone. After this, the president made sure that I knew that I could stay in China if I wanted and continue working there. I told him I had to graduate first to which he said that if I ever come back to China, I have a job waiting for me. I was proud of that and it felt good to know that other people thought I was doing a good job too. That was a good confidence boost!
After that, I said my goodbyes and headed home. I met up with a bunch of my friends at a cool bar that is a hot dog stand on the outside. You walk in and give the people working the hot dog stand a devious look and they take you downstairs where you press a button on the wall and the wall moves aside and opens up to a huge bar. After that, we went to our local pizza restaurant and got some cheap pizza as a late night snack.
That was my last real night in Beijing!

I spent Tuesday packing and playing ping pong. I woke up early and headed back into the office because I wanted to write a thank you note to the president and give out a few gifts. Luckily I had brought 2 Colgate 13 cds with me to China. My supervisor helped me to translate my letter into Chinese and then I put together my gifts. The president was excited to see me and walked into my office just as I was headed out to find him and so I gave him my letter and CD and explained to him that I was in a singing group in the US and travelled all around the country. He was quite impressed and pleased with everything I gave him. I gave the other copy of the CD to my supervisor – so now the Colgate 13 is famous in China! My supervisor had gotten me a gift too! She got me a very famous Chinese book that she had told me about on many occasions.
I was sad to leave. I had a lot of fun working there and had met a lot of good people. I learned a ton and got a major boost to my confidence. That internship made me excited about getting a job after graduation and really helped me to get an idea of what I want to do when I grow up. Now I have to go back to school again! That’s going to be quite a change from what I was doing all summer.
Thank you all for supporting me and I hope I entertained you all through this hot summer!

Monday, 26 July 2010

It's coming down to my last entry!
First off - my last weekend in China!
Saturday I woke up mighty early to head out to the Great Wall with my buddy James. We left by 8 am and packed ourselves a bunch of water, half a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and a jar of jelly to tide us over for the day. We were trying to take a Great Wall trip and make it the cheapest possible. We rode the subway and then hopped on a public bus which took us way outside the city whereupon I haggled as hard as I could against the semi-legal taxi drivers in this big town. There were tons of drivers but somehow they all knew the exact same price and none of them would budge a single kuai. The first driver that latched onto me was extremely persistent and even bought us some cold waters. I walked around talking with different drivers but the driver that was following us would always try to talk to the other drivers. I gave him a death stare and he promised to shut up. That didn't work though so then James and I tried wandering through a shopping mall thinking we would loose this crazy driver. That didn't work either! He followed us right into the store and continued to talk with us as we wandered around. Finally, we told him we'd take his deal if he got some more people to go in the van with us (which cut the price down by 3/4). Then he told us to wait at his van. While he was off trying to get other people, I wandered off and found another band of drivers except they gave me the same price and wouldn't budge at all! They were a long walk away but they were working together very well and I couldn't crack them. James and I didn't want to wait any longer because the longer we waited the less hiking we would get to do on the wall. We ended up going with just the two of us and the driver so we had to pay the premium. But the driver turned out to be very nice and pleasant and he knew his way around the area which turned out to be very valuable because there was an absurd amount of road construction. Chinese road construction is even worse than in the US. In China, there are even more workers so there are even fewer people working at a time. There are also very few machines. I saw 5 guys spreading concrete by kneeling down in the wet cement and spreading it out with poles. They were kneeling in waste deep concrete trying to even out all of the concrete around them. It was very peculiar to me.
The driver took us on all sorts of back roads and scenic routes to get around the horrific construction traffic (also, chinese road construction sites have no flagmen so people just force their way ahead and drive on the recently laid down asphalt and run over the cones. All the tour buses were getting very antsy and I saw many of them just drive over the cones and drive on the steaming asphalt. O well, when in China.
We eventually got to the wall and when we stepped out of the car a wave of heat hit me that was so strong that it felt like I'd just stuck my head in an oven. We were both dripping sweat before we even made it up to the wall and we had to take breaks just to towel ourselves off so we could see where we were going. Once we got to the wall there was a wonderful breeze that cooled you off quite nicely. We walked for about 8 miles on the wall. It was a section that I had done before but it looked very different because they had done some refurbishing and there was a lot more green around the wall. We met some interesting people along the wall. One middle aged lady walked with us for about a mile and was very pleasant and nice to talk with and finally she said that she couldn't walk any farther and asked us if we'd buy some of her souvenirs. She was such a nice lady and she'd walked with us so far that we couldn't send her off without a sale so I convinced James that he needed a pack of postcards from this lady.
Later on in the day a 70 year old man with a cane tried following us to do the same trick but this time we were kind of mean and went jogging up and down the wall until we lost him. He was very funny and interesting but we didn't want any more people latched onto us. I did get to hear a nice southern accent while I was on the wall! I met a pot-bellied tattoo-ed up guy from Tennessee while I was climbing the wall. I told him I appreciated his southern accent.
Then we hiked back down the mountain to a pick up spot and I got to haggle some more for water and so that one of the Chinese guys would call up my driver and tell him where we were at. He agreed to talk to my driver if I bought 2 bottles of water from him. O well. I was so thirsty and they had refrigerated waters. We drove back and I slept in the car ride back and once we got back to the town we hopped on our bus and headed back to Beijing. I slept on the bus too and felt like I was about ready to pass out or be sick because of a splitting headache. I just overheated and was hurting for a while. My little nap helped out a lot.
I got back that evening and slept for 15 hours.

Sunday -
I slept in far to late and got up in time for a late lunch. I relaxed for a while with my roommates and made a tasty lunch with an egg crepe thing that I bought off the street except this time I added lots of fresh tomato and peppers. I eventually rallied myself to go out into the heat and play some ping pong. James and I played 11 games and I finally won!!!!!! I beat him 6 games to 5!!!!!
We played some wicked games and it was incredibly close and the whole day came down to a few key points. I was very happy with myself and James said he wasn't even depressed or anything because we played some incredible ping pong! Ha!
Then afterwards all of the interns got together for an Indian buffet at the restaurant I had picked out. We got 40 people together and had a huge buffet/end of the internship party. It was a big hit. Afterwards a bunch of us just came back and watched a movie and that was our weekend.

Today was the last day of work for me. I got my affairs in order and tied off all the loose ends and now i'm ready to start packing i reckon!
I still plan on coming in tomorrow so that I can give out a few presents to the other workers and a thank you letter to the president man.

Friday, 23 July 2010

My time in China is winding down again. I've got one or two days of work left so I've been tying up loose ends in the office and I've got 5 days total left. Friday night we plan to go to old beijing with a big old rabble of people. I'm organizing it with my british buddy and we are bringing other interns, coworkers and bosses, and random friends we have found throughout the past 2 months. It will be quite an interesting dinner to say the least.
Right now the only other plan I know for sure over the weekend is a huge indian buffet another intern has put together. We've got about 25 interns coming to this buffet dinner on sunday night. That's the restaurant that I found for everybody! As far as the weekend's entertainment goes, I'm letting all the pros organize that which will hopefully work out. However, I may go on an extreme hike on the great wall on one of the days to blow off some steam.
I've run out of work in the office so I just sit in on meetings and wander around to see what's happening. I've concluded that other people must not have much work to do either because they seem to be doing the same things as me. This week has given me ample opportunity to get caught up with all of the things I need to do when I get state-side.
I have learned a ton and taken a lot away from this internship for sure. Unfortunately most of the other interns cannot say the same. Being able to speak chinese and go with the flow in the office makes a world of a difference. I'm sorry for the other people whose internships weren't as fun, but mine was excellent!
Thursday evening we had a massive company-wide meeting that went late into the night but it was worth it because I got a shout out from the president! He thanked me and congratulated me and I got a round of applause! That was cool and rewarding.
I'm very excited to see you all in a week or so!
Then I can tell you more about all of my adventures in person!
Hope you all have a happy friday!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wednseday was a job search day. I didn't have any particular task from the company so I took care of some of my job search business for after college.
It was depressing. There are so many boring things to do out there in the world. How can I find something cool to do? I've determined that I can't sit down for long periods of time. Sitting at a desk at a computer is torture. I reckon I have to find something that has as little desk time as possible that has frequent changes of scenery and varied tasks where I get to meet lots of people. That's a tough combination which I am quickly finding out in my search. I've got pages and pages of notes but just keep finding more options! That's a good sign at least!
My excitement for today was that I got company business cards! They are very snazzy and I can't wait to whip em out!
Tuesday for work I did lots of translations for articles to put up on the company website. That let me use my creative and persuasive writing and dusted off my chinese writing skills.
Tuesday night was a lot of fun. I played some more ping pong with James (surprise surprise), but this time we attracted a teacher. He was a hardcore Chinese guy who talked a mile a minute and kept telling us everything we were doing was wrong. He then explained that he was a Kung Fu teacher and that kung fu and ping pong have a very tight relationship. He then started teaching me all sorts of kung fu moves and kept emphasizing that it was exceedingly important to have a strong base and core of power. Everytime I screwed up he would let loose a kung fu move which debilitated me and demonstrated my error. I wasn't sure if he was a harmless ping ponger excited to play with foreigners or whether he was just showing off his prowess by beating up a westerner. Nonetheless, we both learned a lot and changed up the way we play because of that. James and I didn't even get to play together because we paired up with the two old Chinese guys and played against them the whole time. We did hold our own though! However, we truly weren't sure whether they were just toying with us or if we were giving them a run for their money because all of a sudden they woul knock some shots off that would sting you through your shirt. The suprising part was that even though I couldn't see the ping pong ball, I was still able to return the ball every once in a while. I felt a little funny at first squatting down and moving my entire body rather than my arm, but since everyone else was doing it I got used to it and now whenever I start screwing up I just get back in my stance.
I felt like the little kid from the Karate Kid movie who just stumbled into the park and found himself swimmin with the big fishes. I could understand half of what the old guy was telling me but I did an ok job making him believe that I understood him. As a result, I didn't understand why i was sitting in this stance and why the guy was pushing me back and forth and having me push him and why he would all of a sudden move and elbow me in the gut. All part of the training i reckon - i hope!
It was a lot of fun and we played until it was so dark that it was impossible to see anything and we were just swiping blindly at the ball.
That's all for now!

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Recent Messages

From Mom
I am excited that you are coming home soon and that you are having a good weekend. I hope you get to hike on the Great Wall. I am also glad that you have had a great experience on the internship. See you soon. Enjoy the last few days!
Response: Thanks mom! I went hiking yesterday and haven't been that hot in a very long time
From Grandma
Great Pictures! Your office needs plants. How about shots of your colleagues? We will brainstorm careers when you get back.
Response: Thanks gramma! I just posted up pictures of people! See you soon!
From Pa
The Kung Fu masters were carrying you on their backs, trying to keep you from falling off. That's a good sign- they could have eaten you for lunch.
Be the ball! (from a long-time student of pong)
Response: haha! that's right! I'm going to play some more today again!
From Emma
More pictures si vous plait!
Response: more more? Ok! I'll post more up! I took some pictures today becuase it was the first sunny day we've had all month!
From Dr. Sugg
Your Grand Dad gave me the blog address. Sounds like you are having a great adventure. I am looking forward to a debriefing when you get home. Stay safe!
Response: Thank you! I am very glad you are enjoying it and I will surely stop by when I get back in August!
From Emma
It sounds like you're kinda a big deal in China.
Response: you know me! just keepin it real right?
From Grandma
Wow, Colin! Don't be intimidated. Hang in there for another 5 weeks. You are walking on a tightrope, but you have great balance and will survive with applause. Keep us all informed as much as you can. Love, Grandma
From Mom
How do you know that the snake is your symbol? I love the picture of the arch over the water!
Response: I have more pictures of ruins but it takes forever for them to load on!
From Grandma
Finally pictures. Very satisfying
Your company sooo like "The Office." China looks good in the summer with flowers blooming. We continue our heat wave. No fines here for AC thankfully. Waiting anxiously for more about your corporate journey upward!
Response: It is pretty! but the city itself doesn't have hardly any green- I'll have to start giving nicknames to people in my office!
From Mom
I am amazed at all the business experiences you are getting and how very different their business culture and norms are from the US. Keep on learning!
Love Mom
Response: thanks ma!
I will keep on posting my insights!
From mom
do people work or live in the underpants building??? How bizarre! Some of the skyscrpaers are very interesting though. When you think of it, take a picture of them at night for us.
Response: I don't actually think there are people in there yet! Because they've evacuated some of the buildings around there because they are taking down the burnt down building now and are worried it may fall over
From Grandma
Totally fascinating! I'm eager for more! Your dad told me of your commute and crowds. Office conditions most unusual. The light bulb is like a magic trick. More blog please.
Response: Yup I'll talk about being packed in like sardines in the subway!
From Aunt Kathy
I posted a message last night but it never showed up? Anyway, your blog is the highlight of my work day! The guy in the dress is my favorite character so far, followed closely by the profane Brits. Keep it coming!
From Aunt Kathy
So glad you are back online. Can't wait to read each new entry. So far, I'm liking the guy in the blue dress, especially his boots. Keep them coming! Eagerly awaiting the photos. So cool that you are showing everyone the ropes.
Response: i took some good chinglish pictures for you! I will have time to load them up prolly this weekend!
From Pa
Sounds like a pretty hectic trip back east! Wow-
How amazing that you find people you know from your past in Beijing! They're all part of your Guanxi(?)
Saw and heard a rare encounter at Val 31 tonight- a fox chasing a fawn across the pond and through the field- our Wild America!
From Aunt Kathy
Can't wait to see you next week but am sad the blog entries will end : ( Safe travel...
From Aunt Robin
Hi, Colin

Thanks so much for my card! I carry it with me just like the others in years past. Sounds exciting, like you are filming for a movie! I'm so proud of you and hope you are having a great time. I love you with all my heart and always will! Aunt Robin
From mom
if you like that old man's hat, see if you can find yourself one before you leave!

Love mom- -hang in there. Only a few more days! Yee Ha
Response: alright!
yup see you very very soon!
From mum mum
hope you are OK and we are looking forward to seeing you soon. We love you. Hurry home.
Response: hi mum mum!
you are all technically savvy now huh?!
Can't wait to see you and give you a big big hug!
From Grandma
Darn it! You caught me. I was there keeping an eye on you.
Response: hahaha! I knew it!
can't wait to tell you everything gramma!
From Aunt Kathy
Ick Ick Ick. More picturs for my Wall of Colin at the office. Thanks! Ick!
Response: Haha! Yup. Man- that was an interesting day!
From Grandma
Response: haha! it's all part of the full china experience! Now I feel like my china adventure is complete!
From Cath and Sue Bryan
Hi Colin. Your bed was really comfortable. Thank you very much. And the food is much nicer here. Not sure I can manage the sheeps brains or scorpions or bits of frog. But Cath is going to try all that when she is in Thailand. She plans ontaking a lot of paper napkins with her to spit it out!
Response: Glad you all enjoyed your stay!
Good luck Cath! Yup, you have to bring your own napkins to all of the places because most of them don't give you them!
From Pa
So, your were snacking in class, and asking obtuse questions. There is no why in grammar- there is, or there is not. Makes it much simpler. You were given a slice of humble pie; savor the taste. Zip up the mansuit and you'll be fine.
Response: haha! thas true!
thanks pop - yup. that's the way it goes! zip up the mansuit is right. ha!
From jessica
that oatmeal sounds mighttttyyy good--bottle some of that water and bring it home with you! can't wait to see you over winter break!! we'll avoid chinese food and stick with the norm..sushi!
Response: haha! sounds good to me! I do have some wicked chopstick skills now...
see you soon!