Caressing sky, sea and hills – An internship in Hong Kong

Hong Kong 2015 (28)

I hadn’t ever thought to intern in Hong Kong when I started my university degree. Actually, I didn’t imagine how incredible and fascinating it could be to study and work abroad. This is the fantastic thing about life: with every single decision, it is possible to completely change the meaning and the direction of our life. It is like facing an infinite valley covered by clouds and fog and counting the minutes until being able to see its beauty and discover its mystery. This is the moment of life to try to discover the world through different kinds of experiences: studying, starting to work, spending time as volunteers and being open minded in each occasion. Personally, I consider myself as a cloud, waiting to understand which could be its atlas.

It is difficult to summarize all my expectations: in a nutshell, I was excited to approach a very different culture from a professional point of view. I could see thousands of possibilities relating to people, networks, starting to learn a new language and, most of all, growing up as an aware and mature human being. I was in front of a very attracting sea and I started to swim.

After a very long flight from Rome-Fiumicino airport (there was a blackout that leaded my flight to delay, I finally arrived in Hong Kong. Landing on an artificial peninsula surrounded by the sea is one of the best experiences I had in my life: it was like feeling the sky merging with the waters, and the clouds caressing the islands’ green hills.

Arrived at the airport I spotted the “Absolute Internship” staff who helped me organize and enjoy this experience. I immediately started to meet the other interns and I was pleased by their congeniality and kindness, especially of my room-mate.

My hotel was located in a very central position in a street called “dry fish road”: everyone can imagine the bad smell every morning… Anyway, I spent my first weekend sightseeing and making new friends. Since my first look at Hong Kong, I was deeply impressed by its skyline and lights in harmony with the environment, like the trees growing beneath the hills in the bay. Of course, during every activity I participated in, my old sport Lupetto joined me: he is a very nice stuffed wolf. I also won the scavenger hunt with my partner. As a present, we received a free Chinese massage: my girlfriend was jealous but it was very relaxing!

My first day at work arrived. After having taken the crowded but efficient metro (as soon as I returned to Rome I started to miss it), I discovered the venue: a very dirty tall building in the middle of Wan Chai, one of the most typical Chinese areas of Hong Kong. I was excited to step out of my element and to appreciate the local lifestyle. I met my boss, a hardworking German manager that immediately assigned me my task: I started my research in order to write a survey for him about counterfeiting and best practices for companies in the very complex Asian market. The atmosphere in the office was very informal and relaxed and another friend, Devilman, a tiny action figure, protected me during my work. I met my colleagues and I became friend with some of them during my stay (some were friendly, some others less – a Chinese colleagues even burps!). I enjoyed the atmosphere and after work I would go with my colleagues and friends to discover the delicious local food: pork intestines, frogs, chicken feet. Lovely.

After being puzzled by the new environment where I started to live and work, in my second week I began to feel involved in my new city. The work at my company, NanoMatriX, was very interesting. The company is an anti-counterfeiting and IP specialist: it provides technical tools to companies and governments in order to protect their trademarks or goods. Compared with my teachings in university, there is one big difference: the things I researched were not abstract, but concretely used by my boss for his work. I didn’t use only websites or books, but I interviewed people involved in the field, such as lawyers and companies.

During my stay, I visited fantastic places in Hong Kong, including the Peak, with its amazing view of the city: the Hong Kong skyline, with the merging of skyscrapers, sea and green hills, is something I cannot describe. Furthermore, we visited Lamma island, a green place surrounded by water It was fantastic except for one little detail: while I was swimming in the blue water, I spotted a gigantic factory. After a long walk in the forest, I also visited a little harbour were I enjoyed some typical see-food. Among the other dishes, I tasted a very unique lobster: it was cooked with cheese! Sometimes I don’t approve Chinese food choices…

During the third weekend, I visited Macau, an ex-Portuguese colony and now a modern city famous for gambling and its tall, coloured skyscrapers. For the first and last time, I tried to gamble: I played five times the roulette (black/red) and I lost every single time (ex ante, there was a 125 % probability to achieve that result). In Italy, we usually say: “unlucky in gambling, lucky in love”… I Hope this is true!

It is difficult to summarise the various experiences, places and people I met in this internship. Nevertheless, I would like to share something that can be useful for future students who are looking for interning abroad. The “real world” in working life is very different compared to the time spent at university as a student. You feel the responsibility to research and work for someone else who will use your findings and recommendations for his job. The professional aspect of my internship I will remember most is that in real life, your actions influence other behaviours, they can let people save their time and act better, but they can also force people to waste time and do worse. Of course, this has consequences in your job as well: becoming responsible for important tasks, or becoming excluded from them, or even fired.

As I mentioned, the internship program in Hong Kong with Absolute Internship was an amazing opportunity to grow from a professional point of view. It was a valuable experience for training my working skills and for discovering the Chinese culture. Furthermore, I also learnt something new from different countries because of my intern colleagues. In fact, the most important thing that enriched my experience was the human perspective. The suggestion I can give to future interns is to be open-minded: the most beautiful and relevant occasions arise from human relationships. I visited thousands of places, I wrote hundreds of pages during my work, but the most valuable elements belong to the emotions and the knowledge I shared with people. I will remember the informal meetings with personalities in a bar than the research I did on internet. I will remember Hong Kong for the talks I had with local people more than for the beautiful skyscrapers that belong to everyone. In my opinion, as my girlfriend has though me, working is not only about exchanging goods, but also stories.

I think that interning in Hong Kong has enriched my story: I absolutely recommend everyone who reads these lines to experience something similar as well.

Arnaldo Mitola

Con amicizia letto da Maria Elena Sandalli

Heartfelt thanks to Salvatore Barillà

References

http://www.nanomatrixsecure.com/, as available: 11 -11- 2015.

http://absoluteinternship.com/, as available: 11 – 11 – 2015.

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