CLAD in a formfitting black shirt and skirt, Yulia Saranchuk greets guests with a perfect smile at the entrance of the Italian restaurant at The St. Regis Hotel in Luohu District.
Working her way up step by step from an assistant manager of the all-day dining restaurant in the hotel to her present position six years later as the assistant director of food and beverage, Saranchuk savors every moment working and living in Shenzhen.
“Hospitality is an attitude and lifestyle that can grow into your character,” she said. “Either you have it and get the biggest joy out of work or you will face a big challenge building a career in this field.”
Diligent, organized but easygoing, Saranchuk, currently in her early 30s, grew up in Siberia, Russia and went to university in St. Petersburg. She graduated with a postgraduate degree in Les Roches hotel management in Spain. For the majority of her career, she has been working in Shenzhen.
In Saranchuk’s opinion, Chinese and Russian cultures have a lot in common: people in both countries care about their heritage and family traditions.
“I have several friends from Russia and Ukraine with whom I became close while living in Shenzhen. We often gather to celebrate holidays. For New Year’s Eve, for instance, everyone brings along a traditional food, like the blinis (a kind of thin pancakes), to share with all.”
Normally, Saranchuk would return to St. Petersburg for a reunion with her family and friends each January after the busiest time has passed in her hotel.
Last year’s experience had been a challenge, as she had to undergo two 14-day quarantines, first in St. Petersburg and again in Shenzhen when she returned.
“This city has always made me feel welcomed and taken care of,” she said. “It’s a bona fide home away from home for me and for many others coming from other provinces.
“I was extremely touched when the management of my housing estate found my contact information and called me. They did everything necessary to facilitate my quarantine at home rather than in a designated hotel. They also checked in on me from time to time to make sure that I had groceries and other necessities.”
She was also thankful that her colleagues sent her messages all the time during her quarantine to see if she felt OK in isolation. “They are like family to me, and we often have hot pot together after work,” she said.
When she’s not working, Saranchuk enjoys taking walks in the parks and exploring the city’s cultural and arts scenes.
“Shenzhen has always amazed me with its rapid changes and fast growth. I am keen on architecture and the city offers me a great opportunity for exploring the most modern designs.”
Saranchuk was particularly impressed by a visit to Donghu Park, in which she found the Shenzhen Art Museum.
“The museum is located in a picturesque park, by the side of a reservoir, and on a visit in June 2019, I was thrilled to find an exhibition of oil paintings and sculptures from my hometown, by artists from the Russian Academy of Arts,” she said.
A fan of gastro-tours, she also loves to explore small streets full of city vibes, starred restaurants and famed bars. After a recent trip to Shanghai, next on her “must-go” list are Xi’an and Beijing.