From Britain to Beijing

San Francisco's Chinatown Hayley Duszynski

Here's why I decided to move to China—and what scares me most. 

China. Just the word itself brings excitement and fear to my mind. Why you ask? Because I am about start a design internship in the capital city of Beijing.

Even though this is not my first time moving abroad for work opportunities, I am still curious as to what I will find.

With Beijing being one of the largest and most populated cities in this ever-increasing country I imagine it will be one of the most interesting and busiest commutes I will ever make in my life.

During my university studies, I was fortunate enough to spend a year working in Amsterdam, meeting people from all over the world, travelling to new cities and living a different way of life made me a more open-minded person and, in turn, gave me more inspiration to be a better graphic designer.

But why China? Well, in all my life I have only ever met two people who have been. In my years of education, I was never taught anything about this intriguing culture, I have a keen interest in things I know nothing about. This stem of curiosity for the eastern side of the world has been growing for many years. So, when I received an opportunity of a lifetime to gain work experience in the country, I jumped at it. For a country with so much history and culture and so many different unique cities, many have not made this journey across the world.

Which brings me to my next point: I am absolutely terrified of the culture shock.

As someone who honestly doesn’t speak any Chinese I hope as a young intern I will gain the confidence to embrace it and adapt to it. Many of us who have been to any form of Chinese restaurant will have seen the intricate symbols of the alphabet—in fact, Chinese letters are one of the most popular tattoo designs.

As a designer, I love typography and the shapes of letters, being in a world surrounded by bright lights and colourful signage I am excited for the photo opportunities and hope this will bring more inspiration and open my mind as a young creative. Having recently just graduated with a degree in graphic and communication design, I hope to have a unique perspective of the city as I will be on the lookout for anything and everything visually pleasing.

I have just come back from travelling around the USA in which I visited many Chinatowns across different cities from New York to San Francisco to gain a taste of what I should expect. Even though these American Chinatowns blended with the English language it felt like I wasn’t in America anymore. Even the lampposts were made with delicate carved statues and bright colours. The vibrant colour palettes of store exteriors and bombardment of contrasting signage made it a world wind blur of how I can expect the next few months to be. I hope it to the biggest learning experience in my life.

If anyone has any tips or tricks for living/travelling/working in China, please let me know.

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Hayley Duszynski

Hayley Duszynski is a designer, doodler, writer and picture taker. She began blogging for Verge as an intern in China. Now, she is working remotely as a digital nomad in Southeast Asia, where she's trying not to get eaten alive by insects.


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