CO-OP Abroad: A Truly Rewarding Experience
Name: Andreea Crisan
Program: Civil law
Job title: Legal intern
Host city: Shanghai
When did your CO-OP international work term take place?
My CO-OP international work term took place in the summer of 2012.
What company did you work for?
I worked for Dacheng Law Offices in Shanghai.
What position did you hold?
I worked as a legal intern.
What made you decide to complete an international work term?
Since starting university, I wanted to make the most of my years here at uOttawa. I always thought the best way to achieve that was to get involved in anything that inspired me, challenged me or took me out of my comfort zone. While I got my thirst for the unknown at a very young age from my parents, my drive to quench that thirst has been fuelled by the many opportunities presented to me since orientation day. Because I’ve jumped at each and every opportunity, my experience abroad now includes an international studies exchange program in Sydney, a CO-OP work term in New York City, international courses in London, England, and Santiago de Chile and, now, a work term in Shanghai. For me, combining travel with studies or work was the best way to explore the world and become a “local” in any community around the globe.
In a few words, how would you describe your experience?
It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, both professionally and personally. I was working in a field that interested me – business law – so the job spiked my curiosity and eagerness to learn from day one. And as soon as I started, I was given major responsibilities, which pushed me to go higher and higher.
Despite the language barrier, it did not take me long to turn colleagues into friends with whom I still keep in touch today.
The experience has broadened my horizons like nothing else before.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned personally and professionally?
During my stay in China, I learned plenty about Chinese culture and values, as well as Chinese business ethics--for example, how to accept a business card and how to never give a blunt “no” to any business proposal when it’s offered. Most importantly, I learned to appreciate the substance and style of a written contract.
Personally, I learned how to earn respect from and assert my presence among complete strangers with whom I shared little or no common ground. In the process, I managed to nuance my cultural beliefs and gained great admiration for Chinese people and their culture.
Did you feel “culture shock” at any point during your trip?
The only culture shock was the language barrier. Despite the bi-weekly Mandarin lessons, my language skills by the end of the term were very basic. You just can’t imagine what it’s like to speak without being understood, to hear without understanding, and to see without being able to read until you’re thrown into the situation. In the end, though, these combined challenges sharpen your sense of direction, hone your ability to pick up on body language, and make you more responsive to your setting.
Would you recommend this experience to another student? Why?
I think an international experience of any sort, be it an exchange or a work term, should be mandatory for all university students before graduation, because it heightens our understanding of the world.
CO-OP Reception on March 20, 2013
Other News & Events
- To mark National Co-operative Education Week, University of Ottawa CO-OP students, alumni, employers and staff were present at the 4th edition of the annual CO-OP Celebration of Excellence held on March 20, 2013 on the 12th floor of the Desmarais building. During this networking event, the winners of the 2012 CO-OP student and employer awards were announced. The evening was a great success!
Pictures are posted below in the "Event Pictures" section.