Our Hong Kong diary is from Tim van Brussel (20 years old), a third year International Fashion and Management student who’s following his internship at the Manfree company in mainland China.
Why did you choose for the specialization ‘international production’?
When I started at AMFI, I heard about this specialization in the first year and it immediately took my interest. During the time composing my flexible program, I heard about it again, and I decided to sign myself in. Honestly, not knowing exactly what it was and how it would turn out. I wanted to see new cultures and countries and engage in new experiences. As well, I wanted to develop myself in Asia, specifically China due to its booming influence on the world and industry. After my exchange semester in Hong Kong, it felt as a logical follow up. Now, I can say it was one of my best decisions to choose for international production both personal and career wise.
How is living and working in China?
I am working in a factory, which is located Fengqiao town. This is a small village next to Zhuji city. It takes around two hours to get to Shanghai with a high-speed train. Working in this small village is interesting in every way. The villagers are not used to foreigners, and the life here is much more simple and slow compared to Hong Kong. The whole village is based on the fashion and textile industry and almost everyone works in this. There are factories for dying, weaving mills, jeans, suits and any other garment you could think of. The days are long for the workers from 7 AM till 7PM, and they have only two days free a month. A working salary of 17 euros a day is not uncommon here.
What are your responsibilities in this internship?
The factory needs a code of conduct, an ISO9000 and an ISO14000. I made the code of conduct for the company here, and I help with the whole process from A-Z while getting the ISO’s. As well, the company would like to get a BSCI at the start of 2019, which I prepare. The factory just moved, and I help with improving efficiency and observing if the new factory needs improvements regarding the production process. Preparing samples and quality checks are my weekly tasks. Besides this the owner of the factory takes me with him to many factories and all of his meetings.
What are the biggest differences between Amsterdam and China (Fengqiao Town)?
Everything in every way is different. In Amsterdam you have to watch out for the many bicycles during your way to school, and here I have to watch out that I do not step in dangerous animals such as snakes. Also, China is extremely busy, and in my opinion Chinese can be very rude. They will stare at you, because you are foreigner, and will not stop watching you until you left.
Common protection against the sun while driving.
Could you describe the Chinese culture?
It’s the opposite of the Dutch culture. Dutch people are very individualistic and Chinese are much more collectivistic, which means that in Holland it is embraced to be yourself in the best form and way. In China, people want to belong to a group. As well, Chinese are in my Westernized opinion very unhygienic and loud. I am used to hear super loud burping, slurping, and gurgling. Also eating with chopsticks started to be my second nature.
Good to know for many is that the Chinese food we know in Holland, is not the real Chinese food. Pig brains, chicken feet, pig noses and feet, strange never seen before fishes and organs of every existing animal; I have had it all. Chinese are also extremely hospitable. My fellow student Diana and I, get every day fruit, cookies and other things. We are allowed to have lunch and dinner with the family here, and nothing is too much for them.
What is the added value to study and work in China and Hong Kong?
China is growing and becoming more and more important in the world. This means that it will be very likely that you have to work with Chinese later in your career. In my opinion it will come extremely powerful for your career if you know how to work with Chinese, and that you know their culture. Whenever you are at a business dinner later, you know what to order in a Chinese restaurant, and as well know how to eat it. That you might speak a few words of Mandarin could break or make a business deal. This internship is the best way to learn it all.
Besides this, If you want to develop yourself personally, this internship is right for you. You have to leave everything that you are used to back in the Netherlands, get out of your comfort zone and do only things every day that you’re not familiar with. This is not always easy, and for sure sometimes you will let some tears, but the person at the end has so much more experience and knowledge about him or herself, which you won’t get somewhere else.
View on the production of dog clothes.
Do you have any tips or guidelines for (future) students who are considering this specialization?
You have to be extremely open minded and flexible. Nothing will be the same and you need to be prepared for this. Be prepared that you will not find many Western things, and that no one speaks English. I can highly recommend coming here with the mindset to try everything, and to do everything new. This mindset will bring you the farest. If you show your interest and passion in China, they are only extremely happy to show you even more. Last tip: Never, ever forget to bring wet tissues and normal tissues. You do not know when this will get in handy. Trust me.
If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact me! – Tim van Brussel