Orientation Week is your chance to find your feet, make friends and figure out the time difference all while exploring a brand new country. This can seem overwhelming at first but once you realise that everyone is in the same boat as you, you’ll settle right in, no problem!
The first time you meet your fellow interns you will be jet-lagged, sleep deprived and disorientated! Luckily everyone else feels exactly the same and they will find their very own thing to ramble on about! This is also when you will meet your in Country contact; this is the person who will guide you through orientation, introduce you to the culture and, if you have the pleasure of having Ben as said contact, explain to you exactly why pandas should not be your favourite animals and why they should be allowed to go extinct, if they so wish. (Seriously he is very passionate about this, the man has a five-point argument! And it is very well rehearsed…)
Once the jet-lag wears off and you have settled into your room, this week will absolutely fly by, blink and you WILL miss it, but it is the perfect start to your adventure in China. Breakfast is a bit of a culture shock with egg-fried rice, a boiled egg and some interesting looking bread choices but I actually really enjoyed the rice and, now I don’t have it, I miss it down here in Guangdong.
With cultural classes, Mandarin lessons and a trip to the Great Wall, you’ll be surprised at just how much is squeezed into this week. Make the most of the Mandarin lessons but don’t feel intimidated if there are people in the class who seem to be much better than you, I can only say Hello and Sorry, so you can’t be any worse than that! Take notes and practice in your own time, it is not an easy language to learn. If Tai Chi is on the schedule then do not miss it; it might be first thing in the morning, it might be chilly outside but how often do you get the opportunity to watch a true Tai Chi master practice his art in the middle of Beijing?
The Great Wall of China has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and I have to say it exceeded expectations. The steep steps look as if they could go on forever but do not give up before you get to the top, I promise you the view is worth it and it is the perfect end to a packed week of orientation in Beijing!
Everyone you meet is about to be scattered across the length and breadth of China but don’t feel sad about that… it means you have a place to rest your head in every province you chose to travel to.