Working Abroad

During orientation the program directors tell us about challenges we might face in our internships. The chinese and american workplaces are very different because China is known as a high context culture and America is known as a low context culture.

High context cultures are those in which communication is primarily conveyed through the use of contextual elements for example, body language, a person’s status, and tone of voice. The information is not explicitly stated. In a low context culture, information is communicated through language and everything is explicitly spelled out.

I got to experience this first hand in my internship. I was assigned tasks without clear outlines or expectations. This made it a little difficult at times to know what was expected of me but after trying to use more context when receiving feedback I began to understand the expectations for my work. As the weeks went on I was able to succeed at my job and understand the different work culture.

At first communication in the office was difficult. People rarely talked but I began to notice that people would communicate with each other over WeChat (a texting app). People would use WeChat to talk with people who were right next to them. After I realized this it became easier for me to communicate with colleges. It was also helpful to use WeChat because only 2 women in my department spoke english.

If I were to give a piece of advice to someone transitioning into an international internship I would say observe. Observe your surroundings and be open minded to changing the way you are used to doing things. I think that observing, being open minded and adapting are the keys to being successful in an international experience .