From Shanghai to Melbourne and Beyond – Perspectives From a New World Traveler

Dr. Sophie Yan, Applications Engineer China

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Click here to read Sophie’s blog in Chinese.

When I arrived in Melbourne from Shanghai, where the temperature was the coldest it had been in 30 years, I admired the beautiful flowers and greenery on my way from the airport and I just wondered, “is this the so-called life as an international traveler?”

On my visit to Melbourne for the ACMM conference, I was tasked to support in-system installations before the event. Even though I came prepared, once I got on-site, there were so many situations and unforeseen circumstances that I felt quite overwhelmed and for the whole of that afternoon, I seemed to be struggling and scrambling. Fortunately, with the help of the local partners, issues were resolved and the situation improved!

Despite an unfamiliar environment and unfamiliar experiences, it turned quickly into a positive experience and there were pleasant surprises because of the heartening support and generous smiles from the local team. Attending the banquets and parties in the evening was something I had never experienced before. I met a nice lady from the organizing committee and I told her that such experiences were very strange for me and I had only seen them on television. She was very surprised by my comments.

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When I attended a conference in the US last year, as a new member of the company, many colleagues came to introduce themselves to me. Because of my shyness and because I didn’t know them, the only thing I could do was to smile back at them. At meal times, I was completely lost on what to order. Suddenly a knight in shining armor (from Europe) came to my rescue. He patiently went through the menu with me and helped me place my order.

My impression of America was so different from what I had seen on the big screen. There was the tranquility of a small hill town with trees lining both sides of the road. To my surprised, I saw slim   Americans strolling on the street and my colleagues smiled at me and told me that not all Americans are obese! Seeing America for myself has given me a totally new impression of the country. In life, the human race should have tolerance and hope, a reward for the hard work we put in, and be able to restore its pure nature and life.

Self reliance is typically what lies within the Chinese and we never show our confidence in public. We tried hard to prove ourselves, but there is a price to pay. It is this feeling that has overwhelmed me and has guided my facial expressions. Many a time, my colleagues remind me to “Smile” and I am working hard to give a more positive impression.

In China, we have a focused belief in working hard and achieving excellence in studies, setting targets and staying on track, getting a job and leading a normal life. Recalling what I have been through, I was lost and confused like many of my peers. Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Paris as an exchange student and this changed my life. I met friends as well as retired lecturers, who spent time showing me around in Paris, going to the Arc de Triomphe, eating their favorite foods, such as meat rolls. My fond memories were captured in the many photos we took. I am so lucky to have met these wonderful and kind people in a distant and unfamiliar place. Despite the difference in skin color, goodwill gestures and a shared love of the place let travelers like myself feel more comfortable staying in a foreign country.

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René, my colleague from Europe, has boasted about the countries he has visited and the people he has met. As an experienced Applications Engineer, he is always able to show customers what they need to know. The feedback always from customers is that “he knows everything”. I am so impressed by his knowledge and confidence.  René says that he has gained this knowledge and experience from many years of working with the system. He seems to have enjoyed such a lifestyle.

During the gala dinner at the Australia Conference, I saw many ‘PhDs’ and engineering and research professionals enjoying their evening events and dancing on the dance floor. Such actions surprised me at first but later, I enjoyed the events too.

More and more Chinese people are traveling regularly to explore and expand our knowledge, and have become influential in the market. This internationalization trend is inevitable, and we see many shopping malls and public areas covered with decorations to greet the upcoming Lunar New Year festival. We travel and think about what we have seen. What else have we brought back with us in addition to visits to tourist attractions? Life continues and we will experience many things – good or bad, we will calmly take one thing at a time.

Last but not least, with the Lunar Year of the Monkey, I would like to take this opportunity to hope that everyone celebrates this Spring Festival with happiness and to wish my friends and colleagues happy travels as they enjoy the growing International Lifestyle.

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