Intern finds a sense of community and belonging in Taipei

Anna French says joining groups, learning Mandarin and making friends has helped her feel at home in Taiwan's biggest city, Taipei. Half way through her three-month internship with New Zealand company ANZCO Foods, Anna writes about her internship and what she gets up to once she clocks off for the day.
Anna French and two friends sitting on a rock with the Taipei skyline behind them

Anna says she was surprised by the beauty of Taipei and accessibility to nature

I stepped off the plane seeking a challenge that would allow me to gain international work experience, learn more about Taiwanese culture and, inevitably, learn more about myself. Greeted with a hug from one of my new colleagues on arrival, I could already feel the Taiwanese kindness before I had even left the airport.

However, I did realise that I had a preconceived idea of what life would be like in Taiwan. I expected smoggy skies, a concrete city and a constant hum of city goers. But, the opportunity to intern with ANZCO Foods in Taipei has exceeded all my expectations. By being open to change, culture shock just became a cultural adjustment. The skies have offered countless breath-taking sunrises and sunsets, the streets are dotted with banyan trees and green spaces galore, and I have learnt to love the hum of the city.

I have spent the New Zealand summer interning for ANZCO Foods Ltd, one of New Zealand’s largest exporters of premium beef and lamb.

My placement at ANZCO’s Taiwan branch involved working alongside and learning from a small but highly effective team, where I primarily assisted with supply chain management and sales.

Anna French and colleagues at the ANZCO office in Taipei

Colleagues eager to help out and impart their knowledge makes for a fruitful learning environment, Anna says

I was amazed by the sheer volume of orders that seamlessly flow through an office smaller than my apartment back home.

I have most of all enjoyed gaining insight into each of my colleagues’ areas of expertise, as they eagerly share the wisdom they have gained through many years of experience.

Working with the ANZCO Taiwan team has offered a holistic view of the organisation’s activities and a greater understanding of New Zealand agriculture in relation to Asia. I have also developed an interest in how the industry as a whole might sustainably produce and distribute goods to satisfy the growing global need for protein.

When I enter the building each morning, I am kindly greeted by the building manager. After one week of “zǎo ān” (good morning) greetings I had an urge to better communicate with locals, beyond just basic interactions. Aware of how quickly three months can fly by, the next day I began learning Mandarin at night school.

Balancing an internship with Mandarin lessons has taken some doing, but through study, weekly exercise meet-ups at Da’an forest park, involvement in the “Little Rock” climbing club, Beehive Co-Working Space, and MOWES women empowerment group, I have felt an incredible sense of community and belonging, and an appreciation for Taiwan’s extensive transportation network!

Anna standing on a rock with lush, cloud-covered mountains behind her

With a busy work week behind her, on weekends Anna likes to get away from the city and explore Taiwan with friends

My weekends were often spent traveling further afield with friends.

I will always remember rock climbing at the world famous Dragon Caves – threading my rope through each quick draw, my peers yelling words of encouragement over the sound of waves crashing down below; I had to focus my adrenaline so as not be distracted by the beauty of where I was. Or, the time spent sitting with my head hunched as I grasped the sides of my chair, the ocean causing the ferry to feel like a roller-coaster. I remember a sense of relief as I stepped onto Green Island, followed by an incredible day of sightseeing by scooter.

So I came here, seeking a challenge, work experience and an opportunity to learn, but I will leave having found so much more.

I am extremely grateful for this experience, and I hope to see more young New Zealanders grasp these extraordinary opportunities to broaden their own horizons.