Wednesday, May 6, 2009

6 days down ... 55 more to go ... (I know it's way too early to start counting down days, but I can't help it.)

With my first week of work drawing to a close, it's time to decide whether things have overall gotten better or worse:

Environment:   Old Job
I was spoiled at my old job because we didn't really align with the company culture. I think our department was too small and new. In hindsight, things were a bit more lax than at the other factories. During my first day at the new job some random person came up to me during lunch:

Guy:  "Are you a Taiwanese worker?"
Me:  "No, I'm an American..."
Guy: "Well tuck in your shirt. It's a company regulation."

I wasn't offended, just surprised that it mattered enough to come up to me and mention it. Before at my old job no one really cared about that kind of stuff. Some days, I would just show up to work in a t-shirt and jeans. Now I have to wear my tucked-in company polo shirt uniform everyday. I didn't think it was possible, but I things feel more prison-like here. (And not having internet is definitely killing me. My cell phone is racking up those internet data charges. And my computer at work is still running Windows 2000; it seriously crashes on me like 3 times a day)

Cafeteria Food:   Old Job
Old job's cafeteria wins hands down. You know, I used to eat at a V.I.P. buffet that offered 6 types of dishes, 2 types of soup, salads, fresh fruit, and some deserts. (They had this special restaurant because of all the customers that would come to visit that factory.) I may not have liked every dish, but I could always manage to find something.

Now when I first got to China, we all joked about how I was going to stave because I'm such a picky eather. I've managed to survive for the last 10 months, but I don't think I can handle the food at this new place. My first meal here was breakfast. From that point on, I decided to just eat breakfast at home every morning and I haven't been back since. And as for lunch, let's just say that I'm drinking a lot of soup and eating a lot of rice to fill me up. UGH. It's gross.

Coworkers:  Old Job
This is probably a really unfair comparison. After all, I spent 10 months bonding with my old coworkers. I should give it more time, but I just don't exactly feel like I fit in very well here. I'm not integrating very well because no exactly knows what my role is within this organization. So I'm not actually working with anyone here and people just kind of ignore me. Plus, we moved into a new building and my desk is in the very front of the office with no one next to me. This all would be a lot easier if my Chinese were better so I could make small talk. (I think my US boss told them not to speak any English with me.)

Work Assignments:  Old Job
This isn't really a comparison at all since I actually don't have any assigned work. At least I had responsibilities and work at my old job. (I may not have enjoyed my work, but at least I had something assigned to me.) I'm supposed to have a training program at this new job, but no one's really approached me about it. Everyone's busy with their own work, so training me isn't exactly the top priority. I've basically been spending all my time hanging out in the production lines trying to learn as much as I can about PCB design and manufacturing. I've only been at work for a week, so I also should also give it some more time before deciding that I don't like my work.

Dormitory:  New Job
My new room is at least twice as big as my old room. But that's not saying much considering how tiny that old room was. It's nice to actually be able to walk around my room. And I've got a window with a 16th floor view! So even though I live in an apartment with 3 other guys, it's still an improvement on before.

Housing Neighborhood:  New Job
At first I was sad about having to move here. (I'm now living in a town called Chang'an in a city called Dongguan. It's located just past the border between Shenzhen and Dongguan.) After all, I'm about 30 minutes further inland away from downtown Shenzhen and Hong Kong. And I used to go downtown or to HK every weekend.

However, despite all that, this new neighborhood is my favorite part about this new job. I'm living on a pedestrian road with plenty to do and see! Malls, stores, and restaurants line the both sides of the street. In fact, there's a Wal-mart and McDonald's located right downstairs! Plus, Chang'an Square and Chang'an Park are both located within walking distance of my apartment. But the real reason that I love this place is that I found a gym within walking distance. The equipment is like ancient but I don't care; that place is still like heaven.

All in all, it seems that my initial impression is that everything has gotten better but work. Good thing I only have 55 days left...right?