At age seventeen, I was awarded a one-year scholarship to study in Tianjin, a two-tier city around 100km from Beijing. Five years later and here I am, my fourth time in China, and interning in a brand new city, Qingdao.
Tianjin was an amazing place to live and is where my true appreciation and understanding of Chinese culture developed. After my Tianjin experience, how could I turn down another opportunity to live in another fast-developing tier two city? Even though they are more than 500 km apart, I have already noticed some similarities between the two cities.
Tianjin and Qingdao, throughout history and up until now, are very important treaty ports. This meant that in the past they were very desirable to foreign powers. The cities are unique as there still remain numerous European-style buildings, such as churches and villas, which stand as legacies from the time of foreign concessions during the Qing dynasty. A direct contrast to the new modern buildings found in every Chinese city, they are an absolute must see when visiting either city!
In true Chinese style, food culture is huge in Qingdao and Tianjin. Due to proximity to the sea, the seafood in both cities is particularly fresh and delicious. A must try Qingdao dish is spicy clams (蛤蜊), which are pronounced as géli in standard Putonghua but in local Qingdao Hua are pronounced gála. Although Tianjin is known for its seafood, Goubuli Baozi (狗不理包子) and “Cat can’t smell” dumplings (猫不闻饺子) are also some well-known delicious dishes.
Before I arrived in Qingdao, I was under the impression that Qingdao locals would have a southern accent. I realised very quickly that this was not the case as the accent is just as northern sounding as it is in Tianjin, with plenty of er’s(儿)! Tianjin was the perfect environment to not only learn Pǔtōnghuà, but also the local dialect (天津话). The locals were always enthusiastic and patient with me as I bumbled my way through sentences in my early days of learning Chinese. The locals also became especially excited whenever I tried out some Tianjin Hua. For example, instead of saying hen(很 )for very, locals will say bèr(倍儿). Qingdao also has its own dialect (青岛话). For instance. here they pronounce hē（喝）, meaning to drink, as hā. So, it’s dōuhāshui!
As much as Tianjin will always be my home in China, Qingdao is rapidly becoming my Chinese home away from home! I can’t wait to see what else Qingdao has to offer!
Tempted by the two-tier city life? Join us! We have branches in four fantastic tier two cities!
During Chinese New Year I moved from Qingdao to Chengdu and took with me: my cat Paula (big thanks to my colleagues who helped me through all the paperwork to take her on an airplane!) and my Chinese colleague Leo (also well-known as MacGyver amongst the InternChina community!).
Both arrived safely and helped me to feel like at home from the first day on. Our mission is to set up a new office for InternChina and to welcome as many students from all over the world as soon as possible. Chengdu is a fascinating city and offers plenty of opportunities for career seekers or those who just want to get a first idea of this enormously growing country and their economy. Also for those, who are culturally interested in China, Chengdu has a lot to offer: Daoist and Buddhist temples in and around Chengdu, religious mountains and multiple Chinese ethnicities living in the city make the exploration of Chengdu a big adventure.
Even though the last weeks were busy with finding a good office location and settling down, I tried to stroll around the city and discover places for you which might be interesting when you come to Chengdu the first time in your life.
So, I started my tour with strolling around in Jing Li Ancient Street. This is a place where you can find traditional Chinese architecture blending in with the modern world of consumption. A fascinating place where you can buy Chinese souvenirs for your friends and family at home or try different exotic Chinese snacks. Right next to this street, there is the more than 300 years old Wu Hou Temple, which is a huge area including a bonsai tree garden and the perfect place to escape the bustling city life. Entrance fee is 60 RMB, but worth to pay, if you like to hang out in a peaceful place and discover the beauty of Zen gardens. Not far from the temple you can find the Tibetan streets, where you can see typical restaurants and shops for all religious equipment (like incense sticks, incense vessels and holders as well as praying pillows) can be found. People are friendly here and speak English, so you can easily purchase some Buddhist goods or clothes.
After my tour through Wuhou district, I felt really hungry and as I love to cook at home, I wanted to try another supermarket than Carrefour to buy groceries. So, I went to Raffles City, which is a very new Shopping Center in Chengdu (see picture), where you can easily get lost within all the shops and even in the supermarket, which turned out to be a labyrinth. However, they offer very good fresh meat and fresh sea fish, which usually is not possible in a city so far away from the sea. Also, one of the 36 Starbucks in Chengdu can be found here, so if you are thirsty for a good coffee in Chengdu, there is always a place to go.
Finally, I also tried a few Western and Chinese restaurants in Chengdu and I easily can say you can get food from all over the world here: I already had potato salad as my grandma used to make it, original Spanish Tapas along with a cheesecake cream dessert, Tex-Mex and Indian food, as well as fried goose from Hongkong, steamed shrimps dumplings (Cantonese) and of course all different kinds of hotpots!
As you can see, Chengdu is a city which is easy to explore and of course, if you come here for an internship you could discover the city with our InternChina team together!
Open from 8:30am-4:00pm everyday I believe. The cost is only 5 RMB. This castle structure was built in 1930 and was originally a villa for a rich Russian aristocrat after a few years pasted it was sold off to a rich British businessman (at least that’s how the story was told to me). It is located near scenic beach front #2 and is designed after Roman and Greek architecture.
This is a nice place to walk around and there are huge pine trees all over the place. This is also located near where all the European structured buildings are and many Chinese people get their wedding pictures taken around this area. Great place to spend a sunny afternoon.