Global Challenge: Guangzhou Municipal Government China – Hannah Thompson

I arrived in Guangzhou, China on Saturday 4th July, due to start work on Monday 6th. My internship is an 8 week placement as an International Coordinator in the Guangzhou Municipal Government International Relations Office with the Secretariat of Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation. They operate from the 39th floor of the Pearl River International Building in the centre of Guangzhou.

I am staying in an apartment with a Chinese family I know through a friend at college. My homestay family have a really good level of English which is incredibly helpful because the language barrier is really difficult and quite overwhelming at first. If I had have needed to find and live in my own apartment, the team at the UoB Guangzhou Centre are incredibly helpful. They made me feel very comfortable on my first visit there and Vivian, the Director of Operations, said she would have helped me look and find somewhere safe.

I’ve travelled to a lot of places in Europe however this was my first time outside of the continent, never mind my first trip to China! Guangzhou is huge with so many high rise and tall apartment buildings! Although the city and suburbs have around 14 million people it hasn’t yet seemed overwhelming busy – the only times it becomes obvious is when you are packed so tight into the subway carriage that you can’t move your arms and have to elbow your way out when it’s your stop!

Guangzhou is also hot and humid and it’s so easy to get sweaty and flustered on the way to work. Everyone I’ve met has asked me what I think of the weather – it’s not only a British habit to complain about the weather all the time! So combined with rush hour on the subway it can leave you feeling a bit stressed.

Arriving on the Saturday night and starting work on Monday may not have been the smartest idea. I definitely hadn’t recovered from the jetlag and was tired for the rest of the week. This probably also had a lot to do with getting myself into a routine of waking up at 7:30am instead of lounging around all morning as I had been doing at the start of the summer break!

The first task on Monday morning was to get familiar with the office and their work. There are three separate but interlinked teams that work out of my office: The Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation, the Multilateral Working Group and the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation. After reading leaflets and looking through the websites I was given a work list and my project was briefly explained to me. It’s a publicity project aiming to raise Guangzhou’s visibility on the Metropolis website. They are also making use of my native English and asking me to proof read any English-text documents, which is a test of my grammar skills!

Office routines are much different in England than here. The office day technically starts at 8:30am then they work until 12pm, take a two hour lunch break and work 2pm until 5:30pm. In the two hours it’s more than common for office workers to take a nap from maybe 1 ‘til 2! They have fold out camp beds and pillows and take a nap to ‘increase afternoon productivity!’ The two hour lunch break totally threw me – having done some work experience at home and taking about 50 minutes for lunch, plus knowing lots of people that sometimes just eat at their desk, the extra time felt really strange.

This odd habit has already started to feel normal however and I’m sure in the next weeks I’ll be fully into the Chinese routine!

Global Challenge: PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Singapore – Nadrah Rozman

It was an overwhelming first day to work as I hustled and bustled with the peak hour crowd – most of whom shared the same destination as I did – towards Singapore’s central business district (CBD). As Singapore is a city full of skyscrapers, it took me quite a while before I spotted the huge PwC logo amongst the many other tall buildings housing established organisations.

PWC nightview PWC office
PwC Building at night.                                   View from the office.

Day 1 featured on-boarding activities such as orientation and the familiarisation of my role as an intern in the Marketing & Communications department. Following the fast pace of life, I was almost immediately tasked with providing support for PwC Technology day – one of PwC’s many internal events – that was happening in a few days.

PWC tech day

The day of PwC Technology day saw the attendance of PwC’s partners and employees, Google as well as tech start-ups who shared with us valuable information on how to be technologically smarter in our lives.

I was glad to be a part of this event as the technology industry is one I avidly keep up with. It was a great day of wonderful insights and networking with the many other employees of PwC.

I was also simultaneously tasked with a few other assignments of which formed the core of my role as a social media intern – a relatively new role formed alongside PwC’s growing social media presence – such as performing and translating analytics as well as support in social media content management. Siew Ling, my supervisor, also gave me the opportunity to work alongside the Tri-University Recruitment Fair (TURF) committee to plan their social media strategies that will best attract undergraduates like myself in joining PwC upon graduation. Learning of the many opportunities available to me, I wished I had a longer time with PwC – and I was only done with my first week!

Earlier in week 2, I was predominantly busy with conceptualising social media strategies for my first meeting with the TURF committee. In fact, week 2 was a relatively short one as ‘Hari Raya Aidilfitri’ or also known as ‘Eid al-Fitr’ is commemorated as a national holiday on Friday in Singapore. So really the week passed by pretty fast together with a sweet ending full of delicious food from the festive celebration!

Besides the internship, a good work life balance should always be cultivated, right? So here are some snapshots of my time in Singapore during my free time:

Baybeats festival  nandos

Baybeats Festival, live music by the bayfront           Always good for Nando’s

Bazaarsingapore food

The popular annual Ramadan Bazaar at Geylang Serai.




Singaporean Malay cuisine during Eid al-Fitr.

Both week 1 and 2 have been a great eye opener and provided me with a taste of what’s to come in my next few weeks with PwC. I am eager and excited to have embarked on this journey and can’t wait to learn and share with you what else is in store! Meanwhile, do head over to PwC Singapore’s Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter pages for insightful updates on the organisation, and hopefully like/follow/tweet us!

Global Challenge: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Morocco – Anna Traykova Weeks 2-3

Weeks 2-3

The second week at GSK started well with new projects and assignments given out. I had a meeting with the HR manager and he outlined the projects that I will be working on during my internship. The main project that I will be working on is the local HR dashboard which will aim to update and focus on local data and metrics such as employee turnover, demographics, etc. The dashboard is done on a quarterly basis and is used to analyse current trends. I had a meeting with the HR manager where he went through all the information that I will need for the dashboard and explained what is expected of me. Moreover, I have been meeting the HR coordinator who has given me another project to work on which is to develop a catalogue with all the learning and development programmes that are available to GSK employees. Tomorrow I will have another meeting with the HR manager to go over all the information that I need to start working on my projects. So far the work seems interesting and a bit challenging but I am also enjoying working with a lot of different people. There are other interns from Morocco and we all sit together at the same table.

will and anna

Ramadan has now started and working hours at the office are shorter. During the day everything in the city is closed and drinking and eating in the public is forbidden. Only a small number of hotels stay open and serve Europeans. During the weekend I had the chance to visit the beautiful Hassan II Mosque and the coastal area of Casablanca.

moroco temple

It was very interesting to hear about the history and to see the Moroccan architecture. During the month of Ramadan everywhere in the city is quieter and people only go out in the evening after they break their fast. The fasting is a particularly interesting experience and I definitely wasn’t prepared for it but I am enjoying it. Everyone in the office fasts as well and it makes it more complicated for us to have lunch as we have to find a place which will be open during the day.


Me and the other intern Will hang out together all the time and sometimes the other interns join us as well. We’ve been going to the beach which is a short taxi ride away and we watch the sunset which is so beautiful! We went out for a meal once and had some camel meat which was so nice!


So far I have had the chance to try some Moroccan food which is very tasty – tagines and vegetables are sold pretty much everywhere and they are relatively cheap.


The nicest thing that we did so far is to have the traditional ‘ftour’ with the locals. Ftour is their first meal when they break their fast in evening around 7.50pm. Everyone goes home and sits at the table to eat together. They prepare lots of small dishes and everyone shares. On some days me and Will go and get coffee at Starbucks after work. We met the staff there who are really nice and invited us to join them for dinner. They prepared everything on the day and we had a really nice evening with them, they were so welcoming and friendly! We tried traditional Moroccan food, lots of types of fish and some of the local sweets – dates and ‘chebakia’


By Anna Traykova