Working in Asia
August 16, 2018

Working in Asia!

Melissa spent the summer of 2017 travelling around East Asia to help educate and recruit international students to Georgian. The Kitchener, Ontario native is now a graduate of our Tourism – Marketing and Product Development program.

We asked her some questions about her experience:

  • What countries/cities did you visit?
    • 19 cities in China in the first nine weeks, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and Bangkok and  Pattaya in Thailand.
  • What was the purpose of your trip? 
    • The purpose of my trip was to implement the first ever Social Innovation and Cultural Exchange project for Georgian College, along with a Business Marketing student from Brazil. We did the following:
    • created partnerships for Georgian College and job opportunities for students and alumni
    • educated students and agencies about student life and engagement at Georgian College and throughout the Barrie community
    • recruited new students and supported Georgian’s in-country representatives
    • enhanced student integration and increased our cultural awareness skills
  • How did you learn about it?
    • After volunteering as a Peer Mentor and getting involved on campus, I heard about the opportunity through networking with multiple departments within Georgian College. I heard about the job posting and applied.
  • What exactly did you do/study in Asia?
    • While abroad in the three countries, I:
    • developed Georgian College’s international brand and reputation through marketing, recruitment and partnership liaisons
    • engaged with agents, prospective partner institutions, Georgian College alumni and students
    • engaged, empowered and collaborated with international stakeholders through social media, presentations, fairs and workshops
    • took part in cultural exchanges (e.g. a traditional tea ceremony)
  • What made you decide to apply?
    • I wanted to expand my world view and enhance my professional experience
    • I wanted to learn about the East Asian culture
    • I wanted to gain cultural understanding knowledge
    • I wanted to be a changemaker
    • I knew going abroad would make me uncomfortable, and when you are uncomfortable is when you grow the most
  •  What did you gain from the experience?
    • I gained a lot of professional skills that have helped me start my career
    • I gained a greater understanding of the world, and a massive appreciation of my life and how blessed I am
    • I learned how to work with people from around the world
    • I gained so many personal experiences and stories that helped me grow and drastically shifted my perspective
  •  What do you enjoy the most about Asia?
    • I enjoyed the feeling of being unfamiliar, and what I mean by that is when you go to another country that is so different from yours, it’s almost like you are a child again. Everything is brand new and absolutely fascinating. The food, language, everything about the culture, and customs is all brand new and it’s so fun to be unfamiliar in that environment. I was very lucky that I had so many people where I worked that turned into friends and showed me around the cities I was visiting.
  • What were your biggest struggles living and working in Asia?
    • Cultural adaptation, because of the non-stop travel/work it was a challenge to adapt to the food, intensity, language, population size, etc.
    • Another big challenge for me was when I returned to Canada, I experienced reverse culture shock very intensely. I encourage anyone going abroad to take care of themselves, prepare yourself for your return, and have a good support system for yourself for when you get back.
  • What advice would you give to a student planning on going to Asia (or anywhere else)?
    1. Keep an open mind! I love the quote, “The mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it’s open.”
    2. Understand that not everyone operates/lives the same, and do not judge. When you’re abroad, things are not the “right way” or “wrong way,” they are just a different way.
    3. Try new things/experiences. You only live once, so do the things that make you uncomfortable. The times that you are uncomfortable are the times that you grow the most.
    4. Enjoy every moment!
  • Do many people there speak English? Do you speak much of their language?
    • I do not speak any Mandarin other than basic phrases like: how to order food, get a taxi, ask where the bathroom is, proper greetings, etc. Some of the places I visited people spoke very good English, other places I went to people did not speak any English at all.
  •  Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
    • What inspires me is that times are changing. New opportunities are emerging every single day. Going abroad changed my life and I believe can change anyone’s life if they decide to do it. I am excited to connect with more millennials and the next generation of students and alumni who want to take the leap to go abroad, network, discuss ideas and become more of a changemaker every day.
Melissa on the Great Wall of China
Melissa standing on a stage, taking a selfie, with school kids behind her, at a school in China
Melissa with Chinese students, holding a banner