Volunteer stories : Iwona S., General Business Projects in China
Being a qualified accounting technician with a few years of experience, I decided it was time for me to develop some more new skills within finance abroad. China seemed to be the best choice as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Originally I wanted to go to Shanghai, but Projects Abroad found me a placement in Chengdu in a rapidly expanding, international financial consulting company.
My Business Placement
The first day was very exciting; the office was based on the 22nd floor of one of the main trade buildings in the city centre of Chengdu, walking distance from well-known Tianfu Square. My supervisor introduced me to little group of my new colleges and I started work straight away. On a daily basis I was an assistant to the director, conducting market research on international tax laws and legislations, drafting emails, liaising with other branches and reporting to him directly. Later on my main responsibility was to manage a new project for the company involving setting up international bank accounts for property management clients. I also had a couple of projects within my professional field, which included creating final accounts for clients and analysing their cash book.
Some days were busier than others and sometimes I had to stay till late to help with last minute jobs, but I had few days where there was not much to do as well. I wish my work was more related to my qualifications, though, and that Projects Abroad provided more information about the exact role in the placement before my arrival but I am still glad I learnt a bit of the other side of finance.
Travelling in China
I lived with three other volunteers in a flat very near metro station and buses, so transportation to work was easy and very convenient. Chengdu itself is a fascinating city and I’m happy that I was placed there. At the start I was afraid of its famous spicy food as it wasn’t my favourite back then but after a few weeks I slowly got used to the flavours and it began to be quite addictive.
Chengdu it is a very busy place with thousands of cars, buses and scooters pouring through the streets at rush hour, it had a certain buzz about it. The atmosphere felt different and friendlier than other parts of China. The people were much more relaxed and welcoming and you would find groups of men and women sitting outside their houses in the evenings eating, chatting, dancing and playing games. Chengdu is the home of cute pandas and the best tea houses. There is also an array of cultural, entertainment and social opportunities available around the city.
During my stay in Chengdu there were only a handful of other volunteers, we always tried to arrange something to do or see around the city and as we had two national holidays in autumn we travelled a bit around Sichuan region. Just a warning, do not go to Jiuzhaigao Park during a national holiday in the first week of October because it was a nightmare! It is a very beautiful place, but there were just too many people.
Only two hours bus ride from Chengdu in Leshan, there is Giant Buddha. If you have an extra day or two, Mount Emei (Emeishan) cannot be missed. After my placement I had time to travel more around China and see the main, breath taking attractions (terracotta warriors, the great wall, forbidden city etc). It is an amazing, evolving country with fascinating culture and history. I will make sure I return there one day.
At the beginning China was a culture shock, but after a while I really liked it! It was my home for three months. I met great people, had the hottest, but delicious food, saw some fantastic landscapes and attractions and will definitely never forget my experience in there. Project Abroad staff was very nice and supportive. They organised social events every couple of weeks and that always was fun. I recommend to everyone to go and experience China and embrace every moment in there!
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