Tuesday, June 2, 2009

So in case you were wondering. I'm still alive and I'm doing fine. Shortly after arriving here, I pretty much completely stopped writing these blogs. It's been getting harder and harder to find time to actually write because:

1) I'm working ~65 hour weeks. (Six days a week X 10~12 hours a day). It's not fun. Trust me.

2) I'm working out 4 days a week. So after a long day of work, I get home and head straight for the gym. I'm determined to not come back to the US fatter than when I left.

3) I'm still going out every weekend, but now Hong Kong and downtown Shenzhen are an extra hour away. Making the trip is just exhausting, but I refuse to hang around my Dongguan all weekend. Ugh.

So basically I'm having trouble keeping up. You just keep putting it off and it never happens.

In any case, I've got about 2.5 weeks before I come back to the US. Yay!

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?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

If you haven't read my entry about "public" restrooms, then you should check it out here first.

So there I am, standing there in my apartment building lobby waiting for the elevator. Standing in front of me are two woman and a young boy. (He was probably like 5 or 6 years old.) All of the sudden the mom pulls down the kid's pants, and lifts him up in the air to let him pee into the trash can...

I'm dead serious. I've been living in China for 10 months now, but that was mind-blowing.

Meanwhile I'm awkwardly standing there trying not to stare. But I just can't help it. I mean for chrissakes the woman was helping her kid pee into a trash can! Inside the lobby of the apartment building!

~shakes head~

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's getting late and I'm burning out, so I'll make it short and sweet:

  • I only had to go to work for 2 hours to take care of a few things. It was nice to just have some time off to finish packing and stuff.
  • I said my goodbyes to my coworkers. I'm terrible at goodbyes. It was totally awkward.
  • I'm working in a town called Songgang (located in Shenzhen city), but I'm living in a town called Chang'an (located in Dongguan City). They're only about 10-15 minutes apart from each other.
  • The apartment complex seems nice. The surrounding area seems to be a step up from the area where I was staying before. There's a McDonalds and Walmart located right downstairs.
  • It's Labour Day tomorrow, but I still have to go to work :(  Come on, it's China.  If anyone was going to be big on this whole Communist International Workers' Day thing, it should be them!
That's it for now! Tomorrow I'm moving again to another apartment upstairs. Then I can unpack and take some pictures. (They only have a squat toilet here...UGH)

Some things never always change. That pretty much sums up my chaotic life these past two months. Every morning I come into work and immediately check my email, hoping for some sort of update. People have been making decisions for me and my plans have been changing on a near daily basis. I’ve had to learn to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. Needless to say, it’s been really hard to stay motivated and keep working in this constant state of uncertainty. But all that is about to change…

If I haven’t talked to you recently or you haven’t been catching up my blog, then you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. So let me get those of you up to speed:

My product division has merged with a new business group (BG). The problem is that my old BG and the new BG both decided to let me go. (As an American worker, my salary is just too costly, especially compared to local Chinese and Taiwanese workers.) Now that doesn’t mean I’m being fired; I’m just getting reshuffled and sent off to another BG. And so my HR department has been scrambling to find a next assignment for me. So I’ve been busy interviewing, touring facilities, and waiting for job offers.

But like I said earlier, all that is going to change very soon. Yesterday I received and confirmed a job offer from a new BG. Today the logistics were finalized for transferring to this new group. Tomorrow will be my last day of work at my old group. And the day after tomorrow I’ll start work with my new group. Safe to say it’s going to be an insane week.

So what’s up with this new group?

  • They basically manufacture interconnections and PCB for cell phones and other consumer electronics.
  • I’ll need to move to a new dormitory and work in a different location, but their factory is still located in Shenzhen. (They’re just about 30 minutes further inland.)
  • The new training plan will have me work about 1-3 more months in China. After that I’ll head back to the US and I’ll be working in Santa Clara.
  • I’ll be working as an FAE (field applications engineer) with a long term plan to transfer into sales or account management in a few years.
Anyway, on one hand, I'm kind of sad to be moving on. It sucks to get settled and have ten months of training under your belt, only to be reassigned to a different group. Tomorrow I have to say my good-byes to my coworkers. But on the other hand, I'm excited about having a new assignment and an actual training plan that has me return to the US.

P.S. If you heard rumors that I’d be home next week, I’m sorry to say that plan’s been scrapped. My contract guarantees a training break every six months, so I’ll probably see you all in early July? I’m hoping to home before my birthday :/ Please don't ask for an exact date; if I knew, I would tell you.