Saturday, January 19, 2008


Sometimes life just picks up the pace.

I found myself coming back from Beijing after Christmas break and being on the ground for all of 24 hours before I was on a plane again. This time to Indonesia. As I was away for Christmas, I could feel the pace of things picking up at work in Beijing as I continued to answer e-mails and work on projects, small and large, for the company that I was previously only a part-time intern for. A week before I returned to Beijing my boss informed me that I would be going with him to Jakarta and Bali, Indonesia. This is officially the first time I will travel internationally for business, but at the moment I’m on the first plane from Beijing to Singapore and it couldn’t feel more bizarre in this Chinese start-up. My job doesn’t have much definition, my boss is flexible, and I end up on projects ranging from marketing to finance and in industries as different as education and oil. Maybe a little overwhelming, but I constantly remind myself of two things that help keep me straight: A) Flexibility is a MUST and B) I’ll survive if I don’t know and understand everything that is going on in the situation.

Flexibility is always something I’ve known was necessary when you are a foreigner in China or just abroad in general, but having to accept the discomfort that comes when you are unprepared and unknowledgeable about a subject you are immersed in, and then finding the fine balance of when to act like you know what is going on and when to admit that you have know clue and ask for help…now that’s all something I haven’t had much experience with in the States. I tend to get myself into stepwise challenges that are more like “calculated risks.” I know how far I will be asked to leap, and I know that I am probably capable of leaping that far.

However, this experience surprises me every day. For example, I found out yesterday (during my one day back in Beijing, that I spent in the office before Indonesia) that I wasn’t just participating, but was expected to LEAD the discussions of two out of the three key products/services we were dealing with in Indonesia. During a meeting where we received some samples, they revealed this to me and told me to listen up- if I didn’t understand the Chinese I was to ask because I was responsible for communicating it all to the customer later. I had to start asking questions like a crazy person because this small company has yet to perfect a system of internal communication and very few people are as informed as they need to be. Well, nothing more to say than it sure is a good experience. I just arrived from Beijing, I’m now sitting in Singapore waiting on the connecting flight to Indonesia talking in Chinese to my Canadian boss, all after being in the US two days ago…and just thinking…isn’t it crazy where life takes us sometimes? And how fast it creeps up on you?


Anonymous said...

You were in S'pore and didn't tell me? We could have some Ice Kachang in the airport mall while you wait!
Next time you're in the area, let me know. I only have classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I have a lot of flexibility...lots of travel plans too, but I happen to be here today. ;)

jwalkercampbell said...

That's a beautiful picture! Did you take it, Steph?
Have fun in Indonesia! Take pictures!
Btw, I finally bookmarked your blog so be expecting more comments from me (and Jessica). Love ya!