By Nathalie Loeffel, Junior Officer of Science, Technology, Education & Innovation
Putting my experience abroad in a nutshell, I’d have to refer to one paraphrase: personal enrichment! Having spent six months in Beijing made me realize that China has far more to offer than one may think. Not only did I personally develop and meet wonderful people along my journey but from a professional perspective, acquired new skills and gained experience in a field of work not known to me before.
When working for the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing, change is pre-scheduled. I like change, as it often brings along challenges and maintains interest. For six months I had the chance to be a part of the Science, Technology and Education (STE) section. With China rising as a technological power and the fourth industrial revolution approaching, the STE section definitely keeps you on your feet. Artificial Intelligence, Big Data or Space Missions are just some of many interesting topics crossing your professional path during your internship at the Swiss Embassy. The tasks of an intern range from reporting about the newest trends in the field of research and innovation in Switzerland and China to organizing projects, delegation visits and alumni events. A special highlight for me was Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Amman’s visit to China for an economic and scientific mission in September 2018. The time spent here allowed me to build up a personal network, master challenges, and broaden my horizon. It was a pleasure working for the worldwide biggest Swiss Embassy with a highly motivated and international team, and getting the opportunity to share knowledge and exchange experiences.
From a cultural perspective, China is not comparable to Switzerland. Coming here means having the right attitude to be able to work and live here. Instead of looking at China as if it would take me away from my customs, I viewed China as if it were an adventure which I was fortunate to experience. For my part I found joy in learning the Chinese language. Given the large language barrier, it doesn’t hurt learning some words, since it facilitates daily social interaction. Besides cultural adaption, China offers you a dozen of historic and beautiful sights given its long and unique history. Beijing itself represents a modern and traditional city which never fails to impress you. The diversity of activities and sights, be it discovering one of the Seven Wonders of the World or the culinary variety Beijing has to offer, let you fully immerse into the new and different culture. Not only China’s traditions but also its progress in technological improvements are worth of mentioning. The ease of having your phone do everything – be it a means of communication, a payment method, a transport card or a food ordering app – is simply amazing! Just don’t forget your power bank, which can turn out to be a true life saver in certain situations ;)
Looking back at my time in Beijing, I am sure of saying: Time flies when you are having fun… I am grateful for having had the opportunity to be here and take with me many valuable experiences along my way. I dearly hope that this hasn’t been my last time in China. A special thanks goes out to my working colleagues and friends for their support and for making this trip a journey which won’t be quickly forgotten. Until soon! Zàijiàn!