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Starting a new life in Nanjing

Opportunities and challenges

semi-overcast 24 °C

It's already been a week since I came to Nanjing, China. For those who do not know, Nanjing is the capital city of Jiangsu Province located at eastern China. It has a population of over 8 million people. At night time, it can be very crowded when everybody goes to exercise in the parks or visit the night markets.

Nanjing is a wonderful place; but I don't see the need of boring you with facts and statistics about the city. You can easily find them on Wikipedia. Instead, I want to share with you my observations about the city in the past week; and the opportunities and challenges I see coming in the next three months. That, I think, would be more insightful.


1. Nanjing is a culturally rich city. It was the capital for six different dynasties in ancient China. Interestingly, "Nanjing" literally means "Southern Capital" in Mandarin Chinese. Therefore, Nanjing has some of the most beautiful palaces and tourist attractions in the country. I will definitely make a good travel plan to visit them all and learn from its long history.

2. I am in Nanjing to do an internship, and the place where I work is the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education. As the name implies, this is the heart of the province's education system where important decisions are made. Here, I can gain first hand knowledge on how the province's education system operates and interact with high officials regularly. As an education student who is interested in working internationally, this is undoubtedly a valuable opportunity.

3. Nanjing people are very friendly. Every time I am lost and ask for help with direction, people are always willing to lend me a hand. My colleagues are very welcoming as well. On my first day here, they gave me a tour of the community and helped me get a local phone number and bank account. Since they are all experienced educators, I am sure I will learn a great deal from them.

4. This entire internship will be a great learning opportunity and experience for me. I am currently responsible for organizing and planning a summer camp which will take place in July. It is a huge responsibility. By the end of it, I will surely have learned new skills that can benefit me in the years to come.

1. Nanjing is one of the four "Furnaces" of China. The heat here is a little too much for somebody who has lived in Canada for nine years. And it's only just May; my colleagues say it's going to be much hotter in July and August, with the temperature reaching as high as 40 Celsius degrees. I will probably have a hard time adjusting to it.

2. I was born and raised in northern China. Nanjing is in the southern part of the country. The differences between the north and south are very big. Not only the physical environments are different, the languages, cultures, customs, and traditions differ greatly as well. Therefore, although I am still in China, it is like a new country to me. Sometimes I cannot even understand what people say when I go out. Therefore, getting used to all the differences will be a task for me.

3. In Toronto, I was trained to teach high school students. This internship requires me to organize a summer camp for elementary students. Thus, it is a whole new experience for me as some of my skills and experiences are not applicable. This means I have to put extra effort into researching and consulting my colleagues.

4. Internet is always one of the best resources when I need to prepare a lesson plan. For example, I often get useful ideas from Youtube. Unfortunately, in China I have very limited Internet access. Many useful websites, such as Youtube, are not available here. This loss of great resources means I have to find alternatives and rely more on my own creativity.

As I spend more time in Nanjing, I will discover more opportunities and challenges. That's what makes this internship an experiential journey. It is full of unexpected. Everything can be a great learning moment. It will be up to me to decide how much I want to make out of it.

Posted by AndyXia 18:15 Archived in China Tagged education china experience nanjing opportunities internship challenges jiangsu

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