Sarah Gillaerts works since 2013 at the department of Communication Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University Brussels) as a teaching assistant and since 2014 as a PhD student. During her studies in Sinology, and especially during her year abroad in China, she developed a strong affinity with the Chinese culture, history and language and became intrigued by the coexistence of both modern and traditional values present in everyday life in China. However, when communicating with Chinese, she encountered challenges due to cultural differences. Wondering how cultural differences affect professional interactions in China, she decided to do a master in communication studies in order to research this topic.
Her PhD focuses on intercultural communication between Chinese en Belgian business partners and more specifically on how they overcome cultural differences and reach mutual understanding in and through interpersonal communication in the alliance negotiation process.