Before your stay

Category
All You Need to Know, Before your stay, China, Cultural, Daily Life in Vietnam, Food, Learn about China, Mexico, Mexico City, Travel, Vietnam, Vietnamese Culture, Vietnamese Food

Pre-departure Watchlist

Are you getting everything ready for your Pagoda Projects programme and counting down the days until you jump on the plane? Are your friends and family asking you loads of questions about your upcoming experience and even you aren’t sure what to expect?

We hope that our watchlist will get you excited to explore the sights and sounds of what is going to be your new home for a months. Why not download a couple of our suggestions to pass the time on your flight out…

VIETNAM

Netflix // IMDb
A 10-part documentary series chronicling the Vietnam war featuring the soldiers, protesters, politicians and families who lived it.Amazon Prime // IMDb
An in-depth documentary about on refugee family’s attempts to face its divided past and heal the motional wounds of the Vietnam War.IMDb
Separated at the end of the Vietnam war, an “Americanized” woman and her Vietnamese mother are reunited after 22 years.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Anthony returns to one of his favourite places on Earth, journeying to the centre of the country, near the coast and to a city he has never been to, Hue.Netflix // IMDb
Snail and broken rice are staples of Ho Chi Minh City’s Outdoorsy street food culture which has been shaped by both history and family memory.YouTube // IMDb
Luke Nguyen, acclaimed owner and chef of the Sydney restaurant ‘The Red Lantern’, returns to the country of his heritage to take a culinary journey through the northern regions of Vietnam.Amazon Prime // IMDb
An old British reporter vies with a young U.S. doctor for the affections of a beautiful Vietnamese woman.IMDb
Two plain clothed U.S. military policemen on duty in war-time Saigon investigating serial killings when their job becomes even harder.Amazon Prime // IMDb
In the mid 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his foreign-policy team debate the decision to withdraw from or escalate the war in Vietnam.BBC // IMDb
Sue Perkins embarks on a life-changing, 3,000-mile journey up the Mekong, South East Asia’s greatest river, exploring lives and landscapes on the point of dramatic change.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A vicarious thrill ride as Tony discovers Vietnam from the buzzing streets of Hanoi to the rural beauty of the Montagnards, and the mysterious Island of Mr. Sang. This episode shows exactly why Tony has been completely seduced by Vietnam and its people.

CHINA

Amazon Prime // IMDb
An American finds refuge during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking in a church with a group of women. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.Netflix // IMDb
A boy and his mother move to California for a new job. He struggles to fit in, as a group of karate students starts to bully him for dating a rich girl from their clique. It’s up to the Japanese landlord, Miyagi, to teach him karate.Netflix // IMDb
Renowned warrior Yu Shu-Lien comes out of retirement to keep the legendary Green Destiny sword away from villainous warlord Hades DaiAmazon Prime // IMDb
Anthony travels to Shanghai. Forget all the antiquated views your might hold about a communist-run, creativity-devoid bunch of state-controlled androids. The modern China is a vibrant, dynamic monument to capitalism. And nowhere is that more glaringly obvious than in Shanghai, a city housing 116,000 billionaires and multimillionaires who modestly call themselves the ‘bao fa hu’ or ‘explosive rich’.Netflix // IMDb
Tofu pudding. Fish head soup. Goat stew. The family-owned street stalls of Chiayi are bastions of Taiwan’s culinary traditions.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Pull up a stool and get your chopsticks ready – A Bite of China is the quintessential TV series on all things Chinese cuisine – from its rich history to the rarest dishes and wildest ingredients. Shot in more than 60 locations and featuring top chefs of the culinary world – it will surprise even the most jaded foodies around.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A couple embarks on a journey home for Chinese new year along with 130 million other migrant workers, to reunite with their children and struggle for a future. Their unseen story plays out as China soars towards being a world superpower.BBC // IMDb
Dan Snow, Anita Rani and Ade Adepitan go behind the scenes to reveal the hidden systems and armies of people running some of the greatest cities on earth.Channel 4 
With unique access to the Forbidden City, this documentary reveals the spectacular history of the world’s largest palace, and the secrets of its astonishing design.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.Amazon Prime // IMDb
The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.Amazon Prime // IMDb
This Oscar-winning biopic traces the life of Pu Yi, the last of the great emperors of China, from his ascent to the throne at the age of three, in 1908, to the time he was imprisoned in the Forbidden City, witnessing decased of cultural and political upheaval.Amazon Prime // IMDb
True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.YouTube
Reggie discovers contemporary China, diving deep into four megacities in search of the new generations transforming their future.BBC // IMDb
A cookery show focusing on Chinese food, with demonstrations of how to make various Chinese dishes.Channel 4 // IMDb
Guy martin’s love of industry and endeavour leads him to china, where he reveals the unseen side of its innovation, technological development and gigantic manufacturing.Netflix // IMDb
In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a factory in an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.

MEXICO

Netflix // IMDb
At the forefront of transforming Mexican cuisine, Enrique Olvera champions traditional ingredients under a haute perspective as he delves into the roots of Mexico to create award-winning dishes at his restaurant, Pujol.Netflix // IMDb
A look at the life of notorious drug kingpin, El Chapo, from his early days in the 1980s working for the Guadalajara Cartel, to his rise to power of during the ’90s and his ultimate downfall in 2016.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life’s harsh realities, all in the name of love.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Bourdain travels to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Cuernavaca to commune with local residents who express their passion through food, art, and the struggle for an improved quality of life. Bourdain talks with journalist Anabel Hernández on the impact of the area’s drug trade-related violence and how it affects local quality of life.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A documentary on some of contemporary Mexico’s most iconic artists and performers.IMDb
A documentary feature about the life of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Tomas is too much for his lone mother so she sends him to live with his older brother Federico, aka Sombra, in Mexico City.BBC // IMDb
Dan Snow, Anita Rani and Ade Adepitan go behind the scenes to reveal the hidden systems and armies of people running some of the greatest cities on earth.Netflix // IMDb
A journey through the colorful and varied world of Tacos.BBC // IMDb
In 1968 the young Rick travelled down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Mexican border and beyond. 50 years later he retraces his steps from San Francisco to Mexico enjoying unique dishes and meeting chefs. Amazon Prime // IMDb
Tony heads to Mexico with Carlos,who took over Tony’s old job.

SUGGESTIONS?

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

Mexico City Streets
Before your stay, Mexico, Mexico City, Practical Advice

How safe is Mexico City?

I have just returned from a two and a half month stay in the great metropolis of Mexico City. It’s an incredibly vibrant place, every district has something new and exciting to offer. From delicious smelling Tacos, Churros and fruit stalls everywhere, to an endless selection of museums and cafes. There are also green parks throughout the city full of dog walkers and pop-up handicraft stands. But how safe is it?

Mexico does still have a bit of a scary reputation abroad. How well deserved is that reputation? Is safety something that you need to worry about when travelling there?

The answer is, sure. Every major metropolitan city in the world has its own risks and of course, all travellers should be aware of possible problems. BUT DON’T LET IT STOP YOU!

Risk Assess

Before running our first InternMexico programme we did a lot of research on the topic, with the help of our partners Fortress Risk Management and IBERO University:

Risk Assessing Mexico City from Pagoda Projects on Vimeo.

Be Prepared

As part of Orientation Week with our participants, we sat down and had a long discussion about any potential dangers or concerns and recommended precautions.

Here are a few top tips we’ve put together. I’ve also asked our InternMexico participants to reflect back on their experiences in the city:

We had a full day safety orientation day with a third party company who have talked us through potential situations. Luckily, I personally had not have to use any of those measures.

David, Hungary

TOP TIP NO.1

Uber is highly recommended as the safest form of transport for getting around the city, especially at night (on average between 29 MXN to 130 MXN/£1.20 – £5.40/$1.48 – $6.65*).

The Metrobus system is also great during the day (single journey costs 5 MXN/£0.21 GBP/$0.26*).

I felt very safe throughout my time in Mexico, however the safety briefing in the very first week was helpful as it made me aware of potential dangers in the city.

Sam, Scotland, UK

TOP TIP NO.2

Try not to carry ALL your bank cards, mountains of cash and favourite jewellery in your bag. Why not separate things out into a second wallet or purse?

Even better still leave your actual bank card behind and transfer small amounts of money onto a cash card (like Monzo or Starling) for daily use. Foreign cards are widely accepted everywhere in Mexico City (apart from some of the market stalls).

Mexico City is a safe city if you pay attention to everything and don’t do the things you are told not to do at the orientation week.

Matheus, Brazil

TOP TIP NO.3

Dumb down the bling. If you don’t stand out then you have nothing to fear! Be sociable, make friends and ask them for local advice.

Mexico city is safer than I thought. People there are friendly and outstanding.

Chang, China

TOP TIP NO.4

There’s actually a ton of advice out here on the internet. If you are thinking of heading anywhere off the beaten track, a good place to start is your government’s foreign office advice online.

It’s safe in Mexico City, but still need to be careful.

Jing, China

Be Aware

I’ll leave you with my final thoughts, so long as you are aware of your surroundings, watch out for your fellow friends and travellers, you’ll be fine.

If you have any questions about personal safety during an InternMexico programme don’t hesitate to get in touch!

*currency conversions on this blog were last updated on 6th September 2019.

Get in touch:
All You Need to Know, Before your stay, Comparisons, Discover Chinese culture, Eating out in Zhuhai, Food, Learn about China, Things To Do in Zhuhai, Travel

Harbin vs Zhuhai

How I ended up in the “City of Ice”

As a student of Business Management and Mandarin, I had to make a choice of city in China for my year abroad. The year abroad, in my case, consists of two components: one year study and a two month internship. I decided early that I wanted to study in one city and do an internship in a different city, for different experiences.

North vs South

Originally, I was very keen on studying in a city in the southern part of China, for many reasons that include: climate, food, proximity to the sea, and much more. As a Portuguese person, I searched for a similar place to go to (and to make the cultural shock a little less noticeable!), However, it went a little different than expected (in a good way!).

I applied and was accepted for a one-year Confucius institute full scholarship in Harbin! The coldest city in China! This peculiar city in northeast China fulfilled my main criteria which was: must have majority Mandarin speakers, who speak in a standard way. My other criteria: I will study in a city where English is remotely spoken, so that I can have the best learning experience. I stuck to these two important criteria and must say, had a great experience learning Mandarin in Harbin.

How I ended up in the “City of romance”

When it came to apply for my internship, Zhuhai was already on my mind. I wanted a place different from Harbin. I wanted to feel the warmth of the sun again, and so I did for two months in the lovely city of Zhuhai. As expected these two cities are extremes in so many categories, that some may ask “Why did you go to Zhuhai/Harbin?”.

Let’s talk about some of those differences:

Architecture

For those who aren’t familiar with Harbin, it’s a city located in Heilongjiang Province right at the top right corner of China, bordering Russia’s Siberia. So, one can imagine just how cold it is. Harbin’s winter lasts about 6 months reaching minimum’s of – 40 º C. Harbin is, in fact “the City of Ice”, famous for it’s ice buildings and statues and icy festivals. Moreover, it’s important to point out, Russian entrepreneurs who wanted to recreate their motherland, built the Harbin of today. So its buildings are very Russian, in the way they look, but with Chinese banners. It’s this odd combination that makes it such a peculiar city, interesting on the foreign eye.

Zhuhai is the complete opposite. The buildings are tall, and mostly dark grey and white. While it sounds depressing, it goes well with the city’s landscape. Zhuhai is relaxing on the eye, because it is a mixture of human landscape and nature. Wherever you go you’re sure to see trees, bushes, anything that screams Nature.

Harbin’s Architecture is heavily influenced by Russia

Zhuhai’s main focus point is the balance between human landscape and nature

Food

Beifang’s food (North China) and Nanfang’s food (South China) is completely different. Not only that, but also it varies according to the region.

Harbin’s food is delicious, flavored and mostly fried. But I couldn’t understand why most food was fried. Until a teacher explained that due to the extreme cold weather in Harbin, there was a preference for oil-based food (it will heat your body and help fight coldness). Zhuhai’s food is light, flavored and with a lot more vegetable side dishes. Both are not too spicy, so both Harbin and Zhuhai’s food are very delicious.

Harbin’s cuisine
Zhuhai’s cuisine

Meeting Foreigners

That was, for me, the biggest difference between the two. While in Harbin, Chinese people tend to be more amazed whenever they see a foreigner for the first time. Nevertheless they are very welcoming and overall very curious about the countries we come from. They may even ask for a picture.

Zhuhai’s people may also be amazed, but are much more relaxed when meeting foreigners. Overall, I found that a large portion of people in Zhuhai can speak basic english while no one in Harbin could. I imagine the proximity to both Macau and Hong Kong, two ex-colonies and now special administrative regions (SAR) played an important role in this.

My veredict

Harbin and Zhuhai are two very different cities in so much more aspects other than the one’s I have listed. That is the fun part and makes my first time in China so special. I highly recommend visiting both north and south china and deciding which one provides for the the most enjoyable experience.

Before your stay, How-to Guides

How Much to Budget for Living in China

So you want to come to China for an internship! But now you may be wondering, “How much money should I budget for daily life in China?”
The good news is, your money can go a long way in China. Many interns eat out for about 10-15 RMB per meal, and spend 60 RMB when they want to really splurge! Even drinks can be cheap, with beers and cocktails generally from 15-30 RMB. Some bars even sell Qingdao beer for as low as 5 RMB in efforts to draw in more customers. There is no sales tax in China, so the price you see is the price you pay. However, make sure to haggle down the price in market streets or small shops where haggling is accepted!

What is the RMB exchange rate?

For the current exchange rates, please see here.

1 GBP = 8.866 RMB
1 EURO = 7.615 RMB
1 USD = 6.69 RMB
1 AUD = 4.807 RMB
1 CAD = 5.08
1 NZD = 4.609
**Exchange rates as of 27/02/2019

What kind of budget in China is right for me?

There are two main factors that may determine your kind of budget:

  • Accommodation Choice – Homestay families provide breakfast and dinner as already included in the programme package.
  • Individual Lifestyle – Your budget in China will vary depending on what transportation you decide to take, personal dining preferences, nightlife, and more.

Weekly/Monthly Budget Estimates

Below, we have put together some budget estimates of your expenses in daily life during your time with InternChina. In general, many interns live on a low budget and are still able to live quite well. For those looking to spend a little more, there are also medium and high budget estimates. See which budget is right for you

BUDGET BREAKDOWN

For those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new thingsApartment:
Transport – walking or taking bus 4-8 rmb per day = 15-30 rmb / week
Food – 10-20 rmb lunch, average 10-20 rmb dinner, 5-10 rmb breakfast/snacks = 250-350 rmb / week
Treats – one night out per week including a few drinks and a taxi home = 75-125 rmb / week
Events – Attending IC events every weekend (optional) = 100-150 rmb / week

Total amount (average) =  2200 rmb per month (Approx. 290 EUR, 250 GBP,  330 USD, 460 AUD, 430 CAD, 480 NZD )

Homestay:
Transport – walking or taking bus 4-8 rmb per day = 15-30 rmb / week
Food – 10-20 rmb lunch/snacks = 70-140 rmb / week
Treats – one night out per week including a few drinks and a taxi home = 75-125 rmb / week
Events – attending IC events every weekend (optional) = 100-150 rmb / week

Total amount (average) = 1400 rmb per month (Approx. 185 EUR, 160 GBP, 210 USD, 290 AUD, 275 CAD, 300 NZD)For those who go to the gym, eat more western food or spend more in other ways:Apartment:
Transport – taxis, 20 rmb, 3 times a week, Bus 4 rmb per day = 80 rmb / week
Food – 25 rmb lunch/day, average 30 rmb dinner/day, 15 breakfast & snacks/day = 490 rmb / week
Treats – gym, occasional spa/massage, nights out with reasonable priced drinks, travelling to places within the region = 475 rmb / week
Events – attending IC events every weekend (optional) = 300 rmb / week

Total amount (average) = 5000 rmb per month (Approx. 655 EUR, 565 GBP, 750 USD, 1040 AUD, 980 CAD, 1080 NZD)

Homestay:
Transport – taxis, 20 rmb, 3 times a week, Bus 4 rmb per day = 80 rmb / week
Food – 25 rmb lunch/snacks = 150 rmb / week
Treats – gym, occasional spa/massage, nights out with reasonable priced drinks, travelling to places within the region = 475 rmb / week
Events – attending IC events every weekend (optional) = 300 rmb / week

Total amount (average) = 3500 rmb per month (Approx. 460 EUR, 395 GBP, 520 USD, 730 AUD, 690 CAD, 760 NZD)For those who would like to spend more on cocktail bars, taxis or foreign imports:Apartment:
Transport – taxis every day, 20-40 rmb average per day = 200 rmb / week
Food – 40 rmb lunch, average 60 rmb dinner, 25 breakfast/snacks = 875 rmb / week
Treats – lots of going out / drinking (cocktail bars/classy foreign places), buying foreign goods/western imports, etc travelling around China, gym membership = 750 / week
Events – attending IC events every weekend (optional) = 350-450 rmb / week

Total amount (average) = 8000 rmb per month (Approx. 1050 EUR, 900 GBP, 1200 USD, 1665 AUD, 1575 CAD, 1735 NZD)

Homestay:
Transport – taxis every day, 20-40 rmb average per day = 200 rmb / week
Food – 40 rmb lunch/snacks = 280 rmb / week
Treats – lots of going out / drinking (cocktail bars/classy foreign places), buying foreign goods/western imports, etc travelling around China, gym membership = 750 / week
Events – attending IC events every weekend (optional) = 350-450 rmb / week

Total amount (average) = 6500 rmb per month (Approx. 850 EUR, 730 GBP, 970 USD, 1350 AUD, 1280 CAD, 1410 NZD)

As you can see, you don’t need too much money in China to have a good time, while alternatively spending a bit more will make you feel like royalty. Be careful when you have a craving to buy a cup of Starbucks coffee (35 RMB) or the newest iPhone (7000 RMB), as not everything is cheaper in China. All in all, however, you should find that your monthly budget in China is significantly less than it is back at home!

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can see on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here.

InternChina Homestay Qingdao
Before your stay, Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Homestay Experience, Learn about China

Homestay in China – Expectations and Preparations

What do Chinese host families normally expect from their house guests? Should I bring a gift for my host family? Are there any cultural norms I need to be aware of? You probably have a million questions about your homestay. Fear not! It’s all part of the discovery process and the magic of living with a host family.

When confronted by a completely different culture, many things you never expected can take you by surprise. My first tip for you before you head to China is to find out all you can about the concept of face. This will be invaluable knowledge for getting by and developing relationships in China.

Secondly, here are some friendly tips about doing a homestay in China and observations to help you prepare for host family life!

Mountains of Food

One of the lovely things about the Chinese culture is their respect, love and attention that can be conveyed by a single meal. The polite thing to do to a guest in China is to pile their plate high with food from the centre of the table. Whether you ask for it, or not.

Homestay - Matthias and Mickey in QingdaoHomestays are an incredible way to taste a wide variety of local food. You might find your hosts constantly offer you fruit, snacks like sunflower seeds or even occasionally special treats like chocolate. This can be a bit overwhelming at times!

My personal guidelines for when to accept or decline food in your homestay:

  • Be open minded to trying things – say yes as much as you can, widen your horizons, don’t chicken out! (Try a few chicken feet)
  • Don’t be afraid to say no when it gets to be too much – know your own limits, don’t panic if people keep offering even after you’ve said no
  • Take special treats in moderation – avoid losing face by scoffing down all the families most expensive treats (though they might keep offering)
  • Beware of Baijiu Alcohol – celebrations and big family dinners can often get a bit wild when local shots are involved. Handle with care!
Water Usage

Chinese families tend to be very conscious of the amount of water used in the home. So, looong indulgent baths or lengthy daily showers might not go down too well. Your family might even be slightly surprised at how often you shower. Feel free to bring this up in conversation with them. The more you discuss differences in living habits, the easier it is to avoid misunderstandings.

In any case, water is the most valuable commodity in the world!

Anti-wastage

In China, chicken stew means the whole chicken; the head, the beak, the feet et al. Waste not want not!

InternChina Homestay - meal with host family ChengduThis idea crops up again and again in food and in other areas of life too. With bath towels and other household items too. (Although perhaps not when it comes to plastic packaging). Be aware of this and try to observe how the family use things.

Discuss these observations with the family! You’re both there to discover these differences. It’s always interesting to find out which of your daily habits are due to the culture of your country, your family or just your personal preference. It’s a weird and wonderful world.

Busy Lifestyle

Modern day lifestyle in a Chinese city is busy busy busy. Kids are the absolute epicentre of the family. Everything revolves around their schedule. Dropping the kids of at school, picking the kids up and shuffling them off to badminton class, extra English lessons, lego club, chess or gymnastics championships and finally exam prep, plus more exam prep.

Adjusting your schedule to the family schedule can be a challenge sometimes. The more you communicate with the family about your timetable, your internship hours etc. the more enjoyable the experience will be. You’ll communicate with your host family through WeChat which even has a translate function if conversations get complex.Homestay - Raheem & his family

Top tips for living in harmony:

  • Try to set up regular time to spend with the family in the evenings – especially if there are kids!
  • Ask advice on the best places to shop, hike, climb or play football – the family with be eager to show of their city and can show you around
  • Be patient and flexible -remember how much the family are adapting to make you part of their daily routines
Going Out

Clubbing and your usual night-life madness might not be so compatible with your new family life here in China. Have a think about what you are committing to and decide what is most important to you. Host families can be extremely caring in China and they do tend to get anxious if their house guests stay out late at night.

Remember, it’s a short period of your life and you might only have this one opportunity to do something so unusual!

Gifts

Gifts from your hometown go down a treat! Any local to your community at home. Chocolates, biscuits, stickers, tea towels, scarves, pictures etc. Just a little something to show your appreciation.

In China, people always give and receive gifts. It is also quite common for gifts to be put aside to opened later in private. So don’t be surprised if the gift disappears unopened.Homestay - Annaik with family in Laoshan

Added tip – try to give your gift with both hands!

Cultural Differences

You have to discover these for yourself. That is part of the homestay journey! However, I would particularly recommend checking out Mamahuhu’s YouTube channel. They’ll give you a fun insight on which to reflect, then build your own perceptions.

Enjoy your homestay! It will be an experience like none other.
Air-China-Arrival-620x400
Before your stay

What to Expect on your First Day in China?

Arriving in a new country, especially if you don’t speak the language, can be very daunting. However, here at InternChina we strive to make sure you settle in and have as easy a first day in China as possible.

Airport Pickup

We will have asked for your flight details far in advance to make sure we know when you’re arriving. This also means that on the day if there are any alterations to your flight times we can check. This means we can make sure we are at the airport ready for your arrival.

Air China Arrivals

When you’ve passed through all the relevant checks and collected your bags you can expect to see one of our team. They will be holding a sign with your name on in the arrivals lounge. From here you will take a taxi to your apartment with our staff member.

Meeting your flatmates/homestay

After arriving at your accommodation you will be introduced to your new flatmates or homestay family. This is usually the start of a blossoming friendship, they’ll be able to guide you through your first few days and help you settle in.

Usually in a homestay you’ll be greeted with open arms, expect a welcome drink, usually tea, and some snacks!

Police Registration

After dropping your things off at your accommodation our staff member will take you to the nearest police station to register your arrival in China. Whilst this may seem a bit strange it is essential that this is done!

Police Station in China

This should take 10-20 minutes and is quite an experience seeing the inner workings of a Chinese police station.

Getting your SIM card

Following your police registration our staff member will take you too sort out a SIM card so you can stay connected whilst here in China. This usually involves going to the nearest phone shop to get a new SIM card. Usually this comes with a pre allocated amount of Data, Minutes and Texts so you can be sure to keep in contact with everyone back home and here in China.

Mobile Phone Store

What comes next?

From here you will find out about your orientation and company drop off. Your orientation will usually take place on a Monday morning letting you know a bit more about China and what to expect during your stay.

This will be followed by lunch out with the InternChina Branch Team (somewhere delicious!) who will all be dying to ask loads of questions and answer any questions you may have.

Introduction to your Company

After lunch we will travel with you to your company. To be introduced and taken to the office by a member of the InternChina staff. This usually involves a slightly more formal introduction. Getting to know a bit of what tasks you’ll be getting up to. Introduction to the other members of staff in the office. Then its time to start your internship!

Further Information

You will also be added to all relevant WeChat groups for making friends and finding out about events organised by the IC team. This could include an event on the weekend of your arrival or an upcoming Thursday dinner!

After sorting your SIM card and police registration you will be able to explore! Whether this is getting to know your flatmates by going out for a meal together, getting to know your host family, or exploring by yourself. With your SIM card and police registration sorted you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve got all you need!

Sound like something you’d like to experience? Sign up now for a life changing internship!

Before your stay, How-to Guides

InternChina and TransferWise

Every now and again in the InternChina office, I will look up from my screen and say to anyone who will listen: “This is the best website ever created!”. The team know that I’m talking about TransferWise again! Since discovering TransferWise about 5 years ago, it has saved countless time and a significant amount of money for our organisation and our participants.
Here’s a video introduction which explains how it works:

Compared to making a bank transfer, the process is so much quicker. Typically, all you need is the recipients’ name, email address and IBAN or account number. The fees are clearly displayed, and you can compare these with bank fees before making each transfer. I never even bother comparing any more because the saving compared with any bank has always been so huge for me.

As a British business whose programmes take place in Asia, we send a lot of money to China and Vietnam in order to pay for the cost of delivering those programmes. We use TransferWise for this process which saves us time and money.

For our participants, they can send money to or from their home country whilst in Asia, as well as making deposit payments to us if they’re based outside of the UK. To use TransferWise, you can use your credit or debit card to make payment, or transfer funds from your bank.

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can see on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here.

All You Need to Know, Before your stay, How-to Guides, Travel

Getting Ready for China: Setting up Your WeChat Account

Ever wondered how to use the famous WeChat? Here’s a handy guide to turn you from no to pro.

A Little Introduction

WeChat is the biggest social media platform in China, with over 963 million monthly users. It is primarily an instant messaging app however there are many more features than just instant messaging. WeChat or Wēi Xìn is the bread and butter of daily life in China and an essential part of your stay. You’ll need it to speak to friends, contact colleagues and even buy your coffee with it!

Image of the WeChat logo on a PC screen

Getting Started with WeChat

It’s actually really easy to set up a WeChat account. The process is very similar to Whatsapp, in that you need to download the WeChat app from the app store (iTunes, Google Play etc.) and create an account using your phone number.

Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to set up WeChat on your phone:

  1. Download the app.
  2. Once downloaded, open the app and click “sign up”
  3. Type your number into the field and click sign up, be sure to choose the right area code, e.g UK, USA etc.
  4. WeChat will send a verification code to the chosen number: go into messages, find the verification code and enter it into the “Code” field.
  5. Once confirmed, type in your name and finish creating your account.
  6. After this you’re good to go!

 

 Opening your Keyboard

To start a text chat, open your keyboard just like in WhatsApp or SMS. Tap the space beside the speaker icon and your keyboard becomes accessible!

 Adding Friends

Now that your account is ready to go it’s time to start making friends. Adding people on WeChat is quick and easy, so it’s great for networking or if you’re on the go.

You can add friends a few ways. The first is to search for their username or phone number, and the second is to scan their personalised QR code.

Adding Contacts by Username & Phone Number

  1. Click the ” + ” icon at the top right hand of your home screen.
  2. Click the space beside the search icon which says “WeChat ID/ Phone.”
  3. Type the username/ phone number into the space saying “WeChat ID/ Phone.”
  4. When you type in the username, click on the green search button that appears.
  5. Their contact card will appear on your screen. Click “Add”
  6. You’re now connected!

Adding Contacts with a QR Code 

  1. Click the + icon at the top right hand of your home screen.
  2. Select “Add Contacts” then “Scan QR Code”
  3. Ask your friend to show you their “Profile QR code”.
  4. Point your phone camera at the code to scan it.
  5. Their contact card will appear on your screen. Click “Add”
  6. Congrats! You’ve just added your first contact!

­­

Lettings Others Add You 

Others can add you by your username, the phone number associated with your account or by scanning your personalised QR code.

To access your personal QR code, go to the “Me” page in WeChat, click on either your profile picture or the QR code beside your username, and open your QR code!

Making a Group Chat

To make a group chat in WeChat, simply go to the ” + ” symbol in the top right of your screen, and then select the “Group Chat” option. Then, add your contacts!

 

Following Official Accounts

Groups are a big part of how people communicate via WeChat and we regularly use them to post updates about IC activities. To keep up to date with weekly dinners, trips and the latest news be sure to follow the official InternChina subscription accounts and join the group chats.

You can join the subscription accounts the same way you add contacts- simply choose “Official Accounts” in the menu, and then search for the account you want to follow! You can type in “IC” and this will bring up all the InternChina city accounts.

How to Communicate

In WeChat, you can text, send voice messages, make phone calls and make video calls (similar to Skype.)

Sending a Voice Message

To send a voice message, click on the speaker icon beside your keyboard. Then, press the “hold to talk” button, and continue holding this until you are finished speaking. Then simply release and your message is sent! To cancel a message, just drag and release your finger.

Video Calling

You will most likely use a WeChat video call for your interview with your host company, so it’s important you know how to make one!

  1. Open the right conversation- either an existing chat with the contact, or open a new chat by finding the contact in your contacts list.
  2. Open the chat menu by pressing the ” + ” button at the bottom of your conversation screen.
  3. Select the option for a video call.
  4. You’re ready to go!

The same method applies to starting a voice call.

 

Once you have your WeChat set up you are ready to start life in China! Check out our video on how to use WeChat to sign up to IC activities and follow our official account.

 

 

Before your stay, Learn about China, Travel

Vaccines for China: What You Need to Know

So you’re getting ready for your internship in China, and checking everything off on your to-do list. Aside from all the usual important stuff you need for going abroad- your passport, visa, medicine, clothes… you need to think about what vaccines you might need for China.
This is something you need to consider before starting your adventure in China, and while vaccines aren’t necessary, you definitely need to speak to your doctor to see what they recommend.

A list of travel vaccinations

It is recommended that you speak to your General Practitioner at least 6 to 8 weeks before your scheduled flight to discuss any health risks or vaccinations.

It is not necessary to be vaccinated before your arrival in China, however there are some recommended vaccinations for your stay in China: Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Tetanus-Diphtheria and Measles if you do not already have them.

Vaccines for travelling on top of a world map

Ask Yourself

  • What’s the risk of me contracting a vaccine- preventable disease?
  • How long am I going for?
  • What will I be doing?
  • Can I be protected without a vaccine?

What Countries Say

For more information about vaccines, please check the CDC’s website, or read some information here about travelling safely and healthily in China.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to China soon!

Zhuhai's July trip tp Hezhou

 

Before your stay, China Business Blogs, Discover Chinese culture, Internship Experience, Understanding Business in China

6 reasons why you should do a summer internship

You’ve finally handed in that last piece of coursework, those end of term exams are fast approaching (if not already in full swing), and despite promising yourself for the whole year that you’d never do it, you’ve actually waited outside the university library at 7am for the doors to open so you can get the good seat. I’ve been there.
The light at the end of the tunnel might seem as far away as it’ll ever be right now, but before long, it’s all over and you’re left with three months of freedom, a headful of ambition but there’s a good chance you’re still asking yourself the question: What am I going to do with my summer, and how am I going to make it worthwhile? Join your parents for that walking tour of the Pennines? Finally sit down and read all that George Orwell and Emily Bronte that you’ve been meaning to read for the last two years? An internship abroad? (hint hint – it’s the last one!)

So here they are: the six killer reasons why a summer internship abroad is a great way to combine travel with training for the professional world! In short – a solid investment in your future and a fantastic opportunity to make lasting memories!

1 – Gain hands-on experience in the workplace

Joining a company as an intern is a great way to learn how businesses and organisations work in the real world, and not just on paper. This is especially the case for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses, where you get the chance to see first-hand how businesses grow and transition into larger and more mature entreprises. Far from fetching the coffee and making photocopies, interns play a vital role in keeping the cogs of a business turning and if they excel in their position, can have a real impact on the direction of their host company!

summer internship office colleagues laptop coffee

2 – Immerse yourself in another culture

More so than if you were simply passing through as a traveller, interns in a country like China have the time to truly immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about what it means to be a citizen of another society. Because you’ll be working alongside them and sharing your day-to-day life with them, you will learn to eat, drink, work and play like a local. There’s no better way to smash your stereotypes about a country than to go there in person and share a hearty cup of baijiu with your coworkers who have lived there their whole lives!

china calligraphy culture immersion summer internship

3 – Prepare yourself for a truly globalised world

Interning in a country like China can prepare you in so many ways for the world of the future – you will gain vital work experience, learn how business is conducted in a country that is rapidly becoming the main trade partner of every other country in the world, learn to adapt to quickly changing working environments and function as part of an international team. Moreover, the skills you acquire during your experience interning abroad will make you stand out among your peers and will boost your future employability to no end!

qingdao skyline summer internship

qingdao skyline summer internship

4 – Help to define your career path

You may find that undertaking a summer internship helps you to discover that hidden specialism you never realised you loved! The flexibility of many internships means that you get a chance to try out the various different areas of specialism in one field of work. For example, you could well find that social media marketing really isn’t your jam, but at the same time you discover that you secretly had a burning passion for events management that you would never have known of unless you tried it out during your internship! You will also make countless contacts in your field of internship that could later prove to be a lucrative entry-point into the career path of your dreams!

student holding camera in China summer internship skills photography

5 – Learn a new language

It might seem like an intimidating (or nearly impossible!) feat to accomplish in one short summer, but an internship abroad is completely packed with chances for you to learn the basics of the language of your host country! Aside from the option to attend language classes, your coworkers will no doubt be more than happy to teach you some useful phrases to help you get by (or at least the more useful insults), and the value of being able to communicate to colleagues and business partners in their mother tongue cannot be overstated enough!

learn chinese characters at summer internship

6 – Come back with some great stories

Last, and certainly not least, completing a summer internship in a country such as China can be a challenging, bewildering, bemusing, enriching and mind-boggling experience all at the same time! You will be interning alongside people from all around the globe with different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives on the world, which makes for a pretty unique summer. You may have to tackle culture shock head-on, but you will no doubt board your plane home with a suitcase full to the brim with lasting memories, heartfelt friendships, and maybe even a cuddly panda keyring stuffed in the bottom.

summer internship activities trips photos memories

To start your summer internship adventure in one of four great cities, apply now!