Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day Three: Work Begins

I'm keeping this short, but Horizon is awesome. The place is hard-working yet laid back... the team is very self-motivated. Everyone was thrilled to meet me, and I got quite a few invitations to go to dinner, bars, and karaoke--many of which I plan to take up.

I am the only white guy in the 400-person office. Most people speak English only a bit better than I speak Chinese, though my manager (Dr. Feng, who has enough charisma to knock an elephant out) speaks English better than I do. The team seems pretty excited to have an American intern--I got bombarded with MSN messages today, and lost a few hours to it.

I was worried at first that the language barrier would be a problem. It does make things difficult, but everyone's willing to be patient, and they all want me to learn better Chinese. In return, I'm helping run the daily English Corner at lunch, and will be giving 90-minute English lessons every Thursday. I'm doing a lot of English proofreading, and even translating. I'll be meeting with some clients and working on some research for an American company I can't name, but my hands are going to get pretty dirty pretty quickly.

I'm feeling a lot better about my Chinese. I am speaking rather brokenly to my coworkers, but they're so scared about speaking English to a real American that they sympathize. I sat through a 90-minute training presentation about, well, giving presentations, and it was all in Chinese. Dr. Feng asked me to summarize the presentation to him afterwards, and said I did okay. "Keep talking and listening," he said in Chinese. I'm not getting paid, but I'm there to learn about the language and culture. He knew that, and my colleagues know it. So it looks like work is going to be a great time.

Finally, I went out with Sarah and Kim tonight (both MIT students) to a great Hunan-style restaurant, where we got some rather spicy stuff. We all had our noses running and eyes watering by the end of it, it was great. My known territory in Beijing is getting bigger by the day; I'm hoping to know most of it pretty well by the time I get out of here.

And now, bed; it's too late already.

I found out today that on street-corners, 24oz. bottles of Qingdao beer cost 3RMB--that's less than 50 cents. I'm in heaven.

Also, the sky was blue today. It was kindof weird.
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