Hello everyone ! My name’s Audrey and I come from Strasbourg, France, and I just graduated with a Bachelor degree in Trade in the European Environment. As part of my studies I already had the opportunity to do an internship in Shanghai in 2015, and this was by far my most memorable and rewarding experience! The idea of going back again to China has been haunting me since, s0 now I’ll be interning in the Zhuhai office for 6 months!
I always had an interest in Asia, I could not explain it, it is just a part of me! My trips to Shanghai made me fall in love even harder. Before I arrived in Zhuhai, I wasn’t stressed at all- I waited for so long after being offered the role that it felt much more like a release to finally arrive! My adrenaline level was at its height when I jumped in the plane and made my way to Zhuhai via Hong Kong and Seoul. At the airport, my roommate and fellow office intern picked me up and brought me home!
Zhuhai so Far
It has been 1 week so far and Zhuhai is better than expected. The people are nice and welcoming, the food is delicious, the views are stunning and the relaxing vibe is amazing! The IC office staff are always keen to help and explain anything I need to know. Although I got overwhelmed in the beginning of my stay, the more time passes by, the more this experience seems like to be the opportunity I needed to move on and find my path. I kind of struggled with English at the start of my stay, but time will help and now I feel more at ease with people. Especially as I can enjoy the nightlife here with people from all over the world!
I hope to :
- Develop my “Guanxi”.
- Acquire new professional competencies through my work within an international team.
- Gain more self-confidence.
- Re-discover and deepen my knowledge of China and its business environment.
- Enjoy the city and its possibilities as well as the local culture.
What to choose? Homestay or Apartment
From experience, I think all interns at InternChina can confirm that after a long journey from Europe, you just want to relax in a comfortable and clean environment that you can call home. InternChina offers 2 accommodation options for your stay in the middle kingdom. This blog post will outline the key points of the two options (Home stay and Apartment) available.
For the duration of your time in China, whether that is for a short and sweet four-week internship or a comprehensive twenty-four week epic experience, you want to ensure that your home is somewhere you can return to after a day’s work and feel relaxed. Imagine being able to do this alongside improving your Chinese Mandarin knowledge, trying new and exciting Chinese food in a truly authentic atmosphere and making new, possibly life long friends? There is no better way to do this than to live with a Chinese family during your internship. This type of accommodation is called a ‘Homestay’.
Living with a Chinese family is the most authentic way to discover Chinese culture. You will spend a lot of time with the family when you’re in the home. All of the families included in the InternChina Homestay scheme have been vetted, and their appropriateness for hosting interns confirmed.
At least one member of the family will speak English so you are not alone! This provides you with the opportunity to develop your Mandarin skills (a bonus on any CV!) whilst also mutually developing the family’s English skills. Unless of course you are looking to be FULLY immersed in the Chinese language, then we will match you with a family which speaks little to no English. Totally up to you and your preferences!
The Homestays are so successful because the families are just as keen as you to learn about a new culture and language! Previous interns have told us they have been welcomed very kindly into the family circle and feel very much at home. One of our latest interns in Qingdao, Olivia, describes the homestay as “a really amazing experience and makes living away from home much easier.”
Chinese accommodation varies greatly from the homes we live in in Europe. Typically, most of our homestay families live in apartments in the city. The apartments tend to be quite compact but feature all the necessities you will need during your time in China. Noticeable differences include the lack of an oven in the kitchen and the washing machines tend to be located anywhere but the kitchen. Also, depending on what city you are located, it is not uncommon to for the bathroom to be an open plan wet room instead of a shower cubicle… but these tend to be more fun anyway and you can enjoy the shower without being fenced in!
When you live in a homestay accommodation, you are guaranteed your own room. This is your own personal space to retreat to, however, we do recommend spending as much time as possible with the family to ensure you get the most out of your experience! Overall, the standard of the homestay is very similar to that of staying in an apartment. But of course, you get the bonus of living authentically in China with a family.
On a final note, do not worry about the toilet; they are Western style not squats!
We know that when you plan to come to China you will have your own ideas and expectations. Choosing the homestay option for your accommodation allows you to explore the city at your leisure however, its advisable that you make the most of living with your Chinese family.
The families will probably take you out on the weekends to explore the city, show you their favourite hot spots or simply to meet the grandparents in their hometown!
Chinese families tend to live more conservatively than in the West, this means that when you move into your home stay, you can’t go out partying every evening. It is not the norm to go out during the week in China and therefore you won’t really see young people about in bars in the evenings. Use this time wisely to mingle with your family and develop your knowledge of China!
It is also expected that you spend your breakfast and evening meals with your family (after all it is included in the cost!) as meal times are such an important part of Chinese culture. This is the best time for you to get to know your family, whilst bonding over delicious Chinese food!
Finally, building up a great relationship with your Chinese family gives you the best opportunity to explore the city with your own knowledgeable tour guides!
Intern China Standards
Naturally, it is understandable if you feel a bit nervous about the idea of staying with strangers in a foreign country. However, InternChina is here every step of the way to ensure the smooth transition from the West to China.
InternChina has hundreds of homestay families across all of our cities, which have been intensively vetted for their suitability. You will also be required to fill in our Homestay application form so we can match you with your perfect family based on your preferences.
Finally, InternChina also offer mediation between interns and their host families if on the rare occasion any issues do arise. Basic rules are established in the welcome pack to help avoid any misunderstandings however, if mediation is not successful then rest assured we aim to find you a new home within a week!
Imagine the opportunity to live in a country as crazy and exciting as China in your own snazzy apartment with 2 or 3 other interns from around the globe?
The freedom to come and go as you choose, cook what you like, when you like and living with like minded people in a cute Chinese apartment. If you choose to stay in an apartment during your internship in China, this is exactly how you will be living!
As with the homestay accommodation, you are guaranteed your own bedroom in the apartment. This will be your private space to relax in, but the apartments also have communal lounge/dining areas so there is plenty space to bond with your flatmates! The apartments also come with fully equipped bathrooms and kitchens for you to cook your own food in. Remember though, there probably won’t be an oven! Chinese people like to use hobs to cook their food 😀
When you move into the apartment you will be living with 2-3 other interns. The other interns could be from anywhere in the world and the apartments can be mixed sex*. Living in an apartment in China is your opportunity to get to know new people and make new, possibly life long friends! It is also a chance to gain some independence living and working on your own in a foreign country!
If you are sharing your China experience with friends and want to live in the same apartment, this can be arranged! Just let us know before you arrive and we will sort it out.
*Flats are mixed sex unless requested. Studio flats can also be organised at an additional cost.
Similarities with Homestay Accommodation
Regardless of whether you stay in homestay accommodation or an intern apartment, InternChina ensures that the apartment is located near to your internship although this does not necessarily mean walking distance! Chinese cities are huge in comparison to UK/EU cities; therefore you will most likely have to take a short bus or subway ride to and from work.
Differences from Homestay Accommodation
The homestay accommodation and apartments are very much of the same standard of living, it just depends what kind of Chinese lifestyle you want to experience.
When you stay in an apartment you are living an international lifestyle with like-minded people who are also completing internships. You have the freedom to come and go as you please and make friends for life.
When you stay with a host family, you are living a much more authentic Chinese lifestyle and have the opportunity to greatly improve your Mandarin alongside trying tasty homemade Chinese food!
I hope this blog post has helped to shed some light on the types of accommodation that InternChina offers. If you are unsure which type is best for you, feel free to let us know during your application and we will advise you further. AND if you are staying long enough and fancy sampling a bit of both lifestyles, we can organise splitting your time in China between the two!
So what are you waiting for? Join us in China today for an incredible internship and amazing accommodation, apply here.
Ni Hao everyone.My name is Hyacinth. I am the new intern at InternChina -Qingdao office. I live just outside of Oxford in the UK, and study at the University of Southampton. My choice of a six month internship before my final year was to get a feel of the Chinese culture, learn new skills and most importantly, to meet new people.
I arrived on Saturday night on an overcrowded flight which luckily happened to get me upgraded to comfortable seats and free wine! Afterwards, I was very welcomed by the InternChina staff at the airport. My apartment is spacious and clean and I was given a handbook, water, and Oreo Cookies to settle in for the first few days which was perfect.
Moving anywhere different is a culture shock. However, with InternChina, my first week has gone very smoothly. I never feel alone, and the team is always there to sort out any initial issues. The food so far has been amazing; I have been recommended to some great places where you can share beautifully prepared plates which are so much better than the take away places in Britain. The price is even better, with some meals costing only 30RMB (around €3). The food selection is so diverse and there are dishes here for everyone. InternChina arranges weekly dinners at restaurants so you can constantly meet new people. If you are feeling nostalgic, there is no end of McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks and many other places to remind you of home.
Qingdao as a city has many things to offer; Firstly, it’s a coastal city and I have a great view from the InternChina office window. I am looking forward to visiting the local beer factory, the sandy beaches and all the beautiful monuments. The weather is a major advantage and it hopefully should get warmer every week into summer. I also plan to visit Shanghai and Beijing during the time I am here.
Here are my top tips for arrival for anyone who is arriving to Qingdao:
• Bring one adapter when you arrive to charge your phone and laptop.
• Make sure your phone is unlocked, the team gives you a SIM card, so then you can be all set to go!
• Take favorite snacks such as crisps, chocolate and tea
• Pack a picture of a friend or family member
I am looking forward to writing more blogs during the next six months and experience many new adventures.
Apply now for an internship in Qingdao, Zhuhai or Chengdu to visit and explore other places in China as I plan to do.
Everything is arranged: You know which company you will do your internship with, you might have booked your flights already but not sure yet where to live?
Today, I would like to give you some advice on your choice of accommodation when you stay in China. From my experience dealing with hundreds of students and interns every year and living in different cities in China, I am in a good position to give you a hand when it comes down to making a decision on your accommodation in China.
First of all, I would like to recommend you to put financial questions aside when it comes to your choice and really listen to your heart and find out what you want to get out of your stay in China. If you are interested in getting to know the Chinese Culture, picking up on or improving your Chinese, trying authentic Chinese food and getting in touch with locals, a homestay with a Chinese family should be the first option for you. As Chinese people are very family- and relationship oriented, they will not only accept you as a guest in their house but actually integrate you in their daily family–life which is great because it will help you settling down quickly. I personally can recommend you to stay with a Chinese family from my own experience that I had when I came to China the first time. On the other hand, if your focus in China is more in doing an internship and doing a lot of networking in the evenings, an apartment seems to be the better option as it allows you more independence and privacy.
Secondly, aside from your expectations about what you want to get out of your stay in China, you are still a student and you want to get the best value for money from our programme. A homestay will help you pick up some Chinese if it is your first contact with Chinese language or it will help you to apply and enhance your Chinese skills that you have learned before. Either way, it will always look good if you had contact with locals in a non-business-context during your stay in China. A homestay in China will be first and foremost a unique and once-in-a -lifetime-experience. You can even add it to your CV to emphasize your ability to adapt quickly to a new environment, independency, intercultural and communication skills. So, when it comes down to your financial situation and you cannot afford taking language classes but want to improve on your Chinese, it is always the best solution to choose homestay as an option of accommodation.
Thirdly, I hear a lot of people who want to arrange their own accommodation because they are here on a budget as they are still students. I can understand that arranging an apartment yourself sounds tempting if you speak fluent Chinese. However, you are also missing out on a lot of great experiences if you stay in your own place, where you might end up really far from your host-company or paying a lot more money than through our programme because you will get charged an agents-fee, pay utility bills and internet extra and have trouble negotiating with the landlord when something is broken in the apartment. But wasn’t your initial plan to come to China to achieve something and to meet great people? Well, then don’t waste your time with arranging your own accommodation! InternChina is providing this allround-service to you through our friendly, local, English speaking Chinese staff. We are experienced to help you with whatever you need to make your stay in China pleasant and a great experience. We will be there when you lost your key for the apartment or the toilet is broken, we provide bedsheets and cooking utensils for you.
So, you can focus on the things that really matter when you are in China from your first day after your arrival: your internship and your guanxi!
When you think about China a lot of different things will come to mind, but there are also some things you might never expect. Cultural differences are often bigger than expected, but we are here to give you a little bit of guidance so that you are not taken completely by suprise when you experience these situations.
The first strange thing I noticed in China was that people always share their weight in public, especially women! In China it’s normal for people to talk about their weight and ask someone about her or his weight. And of course they answer very proud and are not embarrassed or angry about the question. So, if you get asked about your weight in China, dont worry… share away!
The second funny thing I’ve observed in China is that you can tell someone that he or she is fat. Usually in Western countries no one dares to say that someone is fat. Maybe only your doctor has the right to say that you have too much weight on, but he would probably just use the term “overweight” and not “fat”. So what is the reason for people in China to tell someone that they’re fat? Mainly because if you are considered ‘fat’, then it is a sign of wealth, health and general happiness in your life. For men it is a sign of strength and if you are fat then you may be called strong!
So, again, if a Chinese person calls you fat then please don’t take offense – it’s a compliment!
Another strange thing in China is that anyone can ask anyone how much money he or she makes. When you go out with Chinese people for a coffee and talk about your job for example, the question might pop up: “how much money do you make?”. For Westerners this question is not normal, in our countries it is not usual to talk about salary and if you talk about it, usually amounts are not mentioned. But in China it is a normal question and they are always willing to answer! Another topic that is usually discussed is rent. For example, when someone has to pay more rent for their apartment, the typical conclusion will be “you are so rich.” In contrast, the average Western person will feel very uncomfortable talking about money.
A final strange thing that I’ve noticed during my stay in China is that most guys carry their girlfriend’s/wife’s handbag when out in public together. Chinese men never have a problem carrying handbags; they are really happy and proud of it! In general it is not common in Western countries for a guy to carry his girlfriend’s handbag, except maybe if it’s too big or heavy. Another peculiarity of Chinese couples: they like to wear the same clothes as their partner as a sign of affection…
…and in your host family
Being vegetarian in China is not that easy sometimes, especially if you don’t speak Chinese. As I already wrote in an earlier blog, you always have the possibility to go to a vegetarian restaurant, like Crystal Lotus in Qingdao.
While students, who are living in apartments can cook for themselves and normally don’t have too much explaining to do for their roommates (being a veggie in western countries is not that exciting and unusual anymore I hope), students who are living in a host family might encounter some problems. Not eating meat AND seafood/fish is not common in China. Families with a Buddhist background might understand you better, but they are comparably scarce. But still, there is no need to be afraid if you bring a little patience and stick to some advice I am about to give. 😉 So here it is, a mini-guideline about things you should pay a little attention to when you come to China and want people to accept you (r vegetariarism):
1) Don’t expect your family to understand about animal rights or anything like that. It is a concept which is more or less not existent in China and Chinese will have their difficulties to understand you. Easiest way might be to say that you just like animals very much and that’s why you don’t want to eat them.
2) Also don’t try to explain your views with harsh comparisons. It might be ok in Europe if you asked a hard-core omni if he would want to eat his own dog, but you won’t be making friends with your host family with comparisons like this. It only gives people the feeling to be ‘bad’/have lower morals than you and you wouldn’t want that.
3) Many host families know that there are vegetarians in western countries. And your host family will know from your homestay application form. They will try to understand and even cook special meals for you. Just don’t be disappointed if there is at least the same amount of meat dished as there are veggies on the table. They might want to offer you meat dishes now and then. Again, don’t be disappointed they just mean well and are worried about your nutrition. 😉
4) Your host family might be afraid to not know what to cook for you. While breakfast it normally not really a problem, dinner might be. Assure them that you eat eggs (if you do) and are fine with carbohydrates (meaning rice and noodles) and vegetables. Tell them what vegetables you like (e.g. broccoli, mushrooms or aubergine…) and demonstrate how full you are after dinner (rub your belly ;-)). They will be happy that you are happy and also will be a little closer to understand that not eating meat doesn’t mean to go hungry all the time.
5) You might be asked quite often what you actually eat at home, so best have a few examples ready of what you normally cook or even show them pictures. (Hello intercultural exchange: Yes, we do really eat that…no, it really tastes great ;-))
6) It will help a lot if you can lower your principles a little and eat dishes where meat and vegetables are mixed. You can pick the meat out and just eat the green stuff. It will in general make your life a lot easier.
7) Tofu!!! It’s like one of the best inventions ever – and it’s Chinese. Some people might have forgotten, but Chinese cuisine can offer the biggest variety of vegetarian dishes in the world!