Ruijie Ban is working as an Online Operations Specialist at the Wolford headquarter in Bregenz. After moving here for her job – without ever having been to Vorarlberg or having studied German before – she managed to find her way around, a flat and some friends. In this interview, Ruijie tells us more about her impressions, experiences and challenges.

Ruijie, where are you originally from?
I am originally from China, a city called Tianjin.

Is it a big city?
It’s one of the biggest cities in China, it has more than 10 million inhabitants.

That’s quite a difference to Vorarlberg. How did you end up here?
I moved here because of my job. I have been working for Wolford for one year and 3 months now. I didn’t come here straight from China though. Before I moved here, I was living in Finland for 14 years. I originally went there to study, then found a job, and lived in Finland till I got the job in Bregenz.

What did you study?
I did my master’s degree in Interactive Technology at the University of Tampere, Finland. It’s related to usability and how humans interact with computer interfaces. It’s a technical degree, you also need some programming skills. Right after graduation I started to work.

What work background do you have?
In Finland I was doing quality assurance for third party applications for mobile phones – in simple words: I was a tester. I was also customizing mobile software, I did a little bit of programming… before that I was doing localization testing.

And now, at Wolford, what do you do?
I am an Online Operations Specialist.

How does your working day look like?
Busy. I am testing our web shop: That means that I have to make sure that everything works properly, and that the customer doesn’t have any problems purchasing online. On the other hand, I’m also involved in different internal projects related to the online business, and I am coordinating between third party companies and Wolford. The whole working procedure is very different compared to earlier jobs I had, since it’s a different industry. I am still involved in technical work, but in the fashion industry the whole environment is different compared to the mobile industry.

What skills are required for your job?
Understanding IT, testing skills, coordination skills.

What do you like most about it?
It’s challenging every day. I had been doing online shopping myself before starting to work with it, but I had never thought about what’s happening behind the screens, there is so much going on. There’s a lot of new stuff to learn and much to think about, which I really enjoy.

How was the change from Finland to Vorarlberg? How do you like it here?
I do like the weather here. Finland is quite cold and dark, there’s snow everywhere and the winter lasts about 6 months. Wintertime in Vorarlberg is much shorter. It’s also very easy to commute, I like being close to Switzerland and Germany and being able to cross different borders easily within one day. In addition, people are really nice and talkative, especially at work. How working in Austria compares to working in China I can’t really tell. Even though I regularly go to visit my family, I have been living abroad for more than 15 years.

How about your language skills, do you speak any German?
I tried to pick up some German, but working full time I haven’t really managed yet.

Is this a problem in your job?
In my job the lack of German is not a problem at all, my team is very international, and the working language is English.

And in your daily life?
I manage without German, but there are situations where it’s not always easy to communicate without German.

Is there anything you rather not like in Vorarlberg? What were the challenges when you moved here?
It’s beautiful here, but the cities are quite small. Also, if you need to look up some information online, most of it is only available in German, not in English. At the beginning it was challenging for me to find my way through the medical system, it works very differently compared to Finland. I was lucky I had the chance to stay at the Wolford apartment until I found my own flat. But my start here would have been much easier with the support of someone local explaining and helping out.

What do you do in your free time?
I like to go out jogging or hiking… in any case I try to be active. Even though last summer it was too hot for my taste, maybe I was living in Finland for too long. Together with a friend, we’re planning now a tour through Austria and central Europe, I have to take advantage of being here.

What are your plans for the future – are you considering staying here?
I am not sure yet – it partly depends on work, partly on my family. I might move back to China at a certain point. My generation still comes from the one-child policy – there is no one who would take care of my parents once they get older. Even though it’s hard to imagine: I have been away for a long time, moving back would be a huge change. The working rhythm in China is very different compared to Europe. But let’s see, I am open to everything.

Do you have any advice for someone who moves here from abroad?
Go for it! It’s a very nice area. If you are planning to stay longer, try to learn at least a little bit of German, it makes daily life definitely easier.


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