China calling

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When Arissa Tan was presented with the opportunity to be posted to Shanghai in 2011, the sprightly young lady gamely seized the chance as she had always wanted to gain work experience in China.

Inspired by the speed of the country’s development, Arissa sees enormous growth opportunities in China.

When she first arrived in Shanghai, she was amazed at the transformation of the Pudong area, where she had once visited as a child.

The 29-year-old Marketing Manager at Keppel Land China said, “The cosmopolitan environment attracts people from all over. You don’t only make local friends but you also meet people from many other countries.

“Nowadays, many Caucasians here speak fluent Mandarin, and it can be really embarrassing when they speak better Mandarin than I do. This has really pushed me to improve.”

She added, “Conversing in Mandarin socially is very different from using the language in formal work situations.

“Initially, I encountered many difficulties but being open-minded and having a willingness to learn enabled me to adapt quickly to the environment.”

Her favourite activity outside of work is sampling different types of food, exploring new places and immersing in the country’s rich culture. Arissa looks upon the Shanghai marketplace as a training ground, and although she has paid for a few lessons in bartering, it has made her more street smart and independent. She also had to make another surprising adaptation to the fast pace and constant honking of the taxi drivers.

“In Shanghai, the taxi drivers drive as if they are in sports cars. Everyone who comes to visit me always mentions this as well!” she shared.

For the first few months, she feared taking taxis anywhere but has since become accustomed to the daily thrill. The adaptability that she has gained from living abroad has allowed her to cope with difficult situations and make hard decisions on her own.

She said, “Working and living abroad forces you to grow up and be independent. It has made me appreciate the little things in life that I used to take for granted.”

Describing her experience so far as “an incredible opportunity to gain professional experience and transferable skills”, alongside exploring China’s rich culture and heritage, Arissa has acquired a taste for adventure and looks forward to live in other countries in future to expand her learning experiences.