大家好!My name is Tamara and I just arrived to Chengdu 3 days ago, to start my 6-month internship at the Chengdu InternChina office as a Marketing & Business Development Intern and by that, following a road down the unknown. I am currently enrolled at Heilbronn University, doing my Masters in International Business and Intercultural Management, which is why I figured an additional international internship wouldn’t hurt.
I am also planning to write my Master thesis while being here.
After hearing so much about China in my lectures and reading so much about China in general, the cultural differences and all the challenges in terms of business, I decided to leave my comfort zone – big this time – and experience this country that everyone talks about but barely understands for myself.
After being told many amazing stories from a fellow student and a really good friend of mine about being employed at InternChina, I figured that will be my go-to option.
I applied, got the interview and the rest is history.
Although this isn’t my first time living and working in Asia for a longer period of time as I spent 2 semesters in Japan, China is beyond comparison!
Granted, the first few days have been pretty overwhelming! Not just in terms of the general new environment but also in an even broader sense. Even though I study intercultural Management and know concepts like the culture shock and high/low context and individual/collectivist countries etc., being here and actually living in a culture as different from my own definitely poses to be one of the biggest and most exciting challenges in my life so far.
The good thing though is, I am not alone in it. So many other people have had this amazing experience and „survived“ China. Not just ‘survived’ but also claimed that they have had one of the best times in their lives. That’s why I will challenge myself anew every single day- whether it’s ordering food at a local restaurant, surviving Chinese traffic or just dealing with the bathroom situation as a whole 😉
Goodbye Deutschland, Folge 1: Shanghai
Juli 2016, 17:15 Uhr, Frankfurt: Jetzt heißt es erst einmal tschüss Deutschland – und ni hao China! Gemeinsam, teilweise noch im Halbschlaf, erreichten wir 10 Stunden später den Flughafen in Shanghai. Für Jetlag oder Schlaf war keine Zeit – nachdem wir unser Gepäck im Hotel abgeladen hatten, ging es direkt los zum Pearl Tower. Von hier aus hat man eine super Aussicht über die gesamte Stadt – aber auch auf ziemlich viel Smog. Schon am ersten Tag stellten wir fest, dass unsere Gruppe ein sehr beliebtes Fotomotiv der chinesischen Touristen war. Während der Großteil von uns anfangs noch etwas bescheiden mit der Aufmerksamkeit unserer chinesischen Fans umging, hatten andere wiederum viel Freude daran, näheren Kontakt zu den Groupies herzustellen.
Die zweite Erkenntnisse des ersten Tages: es ist verdammt heiß in China! Falls ihr also vorhabt im Sommer nach China zu kommen, braucht ihr wirklich keine lange Hose. „Aber was, wenn es abends abkühlt?“ Es kühlt nicht ab. Niemals. Zwar haben zwei Mutige unter uns am ersten Tag noch versucht, eine lange Hose zu tragen, nach zwei Minuten bei gefühlten 40° wurden die dann allerdings ganz schnell in die letzte Ecke des Kleiderschranks verbannt.
Unsere Wegbegleiter für die nächsten 2 Wochen (liebe Grüße an dieser Stelle an Amber, Jack und Dave) brachten ein abwechslungsreiches Programm für uns mit. Dabei war der Kulturschock in Shanghai gar nicht so groß wie erwartet. Abgesehen von ziemlich vielen Chinesen ist die Stadt (zumindest auf den ersten Blick) gar nicht so „typisch chinesisch“, wie man es sich vielleicht vorstellt. Es gibt viele Hochhäuser, die Innenstadt ist sehr modernund beherbergt eine Shopping Mall nach der anderen. Besonders die Nanjing Road ließ das Herz des ein oder anderen Shopaholics höher schlagen. Perfekt zur „Abkühlung“ nach einem langen, anstrengenden Shopping Tag ist übrigens die Captain’s Bar. Hier hat man von einer gemütlichen Dachterrasse eine unschlagbare Aussicht auf den Bund (Adresse: 37 Fuzhou Lu, in der Nähe der Sichuan Zhong Lu). Neben Shoppingcentern und Hochhäusern gibt es aber auch in Shanghai und Umgebung Orte und Sehenswürdigkeiten, die etwas mehr von China und der alten Tradition preisgeben.
Unter anderem Zhou Zhuang: Liebevoll auch als das kleine Venedig Chinas bezeichnet. Die Wasserstadt ist nur gute zwei Stunden von Shanghai entfernt. Einen Tagesausflug ist der Ort auf jeden Fall wert, hier gibt es viele kunsthandwerkliche Stände, Häuser, Tempel und sogar ein kleines Theater.. und viele Mücken, das Mückenspray ist ein guter, wenn nicht sogar dein bester Freund und Begleiter in China!
Für Kunstliebhaber und Bummler aus Leidenschaft ist Tianzifang der perfekte place to be. In den labyrinthartigen Gassen gibt es Boutiquen, Bars, Restaurants, Kunstgalerien und Souvenirs überall. Wer jetzt auch noch gerne verhandelt, sollte am besten sofort einen Flug nach Shanghai buchen und sich auf den Weg zur Taikang Road Lane 210 ((平原坊) 泰康路274弄) machen!
Schneller als erwartet war unsere erste Woche in Shanghai dann auch schon vorbei und es ging weiter nach Beijing. Was wir dort erlebt haben, erfahrt ihr in der nächsten Folge von Goodbye Deutschland..
Before moving to live in China for two months, I was excited to embrace many of the cultural differences I would face. I had heard about the hole-in-the-ground style squat toilets and slurping of noodles. However, it was not until I actually came here that I understood slurping is actually a sign that you are enjoying the food rather than a rude noise frowned upon in western cultures.
My experience in China
I have now been living in Zhuhai for just over 4 weeks and throughout my time have noticed a variety of differences between Chinese culture and my own back in the UK. Many Chinese traditions are beautiful to witness and I have really enjoyed gaining a better understanding of life here.
For example, the central role of elderly people in the family and raising of grandchildren is a lovely tradition that gives the adults more time to themselves. Seemingly, it keeps gramps feeling young and develops a community respect for, and connection to, the elderly. It is not uncommon to see old people taking their younger relatives to school on the bus, or playing with them outside, which always makes you smile on your way to work.
I have also learned to enjoy Chinese drinking culture. Including constant toasting throughout a meal, as well as lowering your glass to a friend to demonstrate your respect. And, as an avid tea drinker, I have loved the use of tea to show friendship and hospitality, admiring the delicacy of some tea ceremonies.
Nevertheless, a few cultural differences I have noticed are a little bit harder to get used to. And you’ll just have to learn to live with them when living in China.
Cultural Difference Number 1: The whole animal served on a plate
The first cultural difference I discovered was on a business trip on my second day of my internship. For lunch, we stopped at a restaurant by a river and my boss ordered chicken and duck along with other dishes.
To my surprise, a whole duck and chicken were placed on the table, including the heads. They had been prepared by being cut into equal sizes, regardless of whether bones were in the way.
This presents a further challenge; if you are a meat eater, be prepared to try and master the Chinese way of picking bones from your mouth as you eat. It’s something that seems so effortless to the locals! Even the tiniest piece of meat is likely to have a bone in.
Cultural difference Number 2: Wild driving
This is another I found out about early on, while taking my first taxi ride. I was shocked at how rude the taxi driver was being, swerving in and out of lanes, cutting in front of people and even driving in between lanes.
However, after living here for a month I have realised this is completely normal driving in China. In fact, because of all the unpredictable swerving, it seems drivers are more observant, with quicker reactions than most in the UK. Not to mention they get you from A to B super quick and so cheaply! Upon that realisation, and having taken many more taxi journeys, I have become increasingly trusting of the local drivers. However, I will welcome the orderly and comparatively peaceful roads with open arms when I return home.
Cultural difference Number 3: Non-existent queuing
Being British, I have had queuing drilled into me at an early age and can’t help but be overwhelmed with annoyance if someone queue jumps. In China, however, queuing seems to be more along the lines of a polite suggestion rather than a strict social norm.
Many times I have been queuing for the cash desk in a supermarket and, as it reaches my turn, someone walks in front of me and places their items on the desk. You soon learn to become more pushy and assertive, as well as perhaps a little more impatient. Although it can become a bit of fun, I still can’t quite overwrite my innate desire to respect a queue.
Cultural difference Number 4: Eat very fast
I’m sure I was once told that one of the reasons Chinese people are thin and live so long is because using chopsticks means they eat slower. What a misconception that was.
During lunch at work, my colleagues shovel down their food so quickly I sometimes wonder when they get a chance to breath. Often, after less than 10 minutes, I am left alone with the other InternChina intern whom works here, as everyone else has cleaned their plate and do not tend to wait for everyone before leaving the table.
Cultural difference Number 5: Spitting
This one is probably the worst Chinese habit I’ve put up with during my stay here, fortunately in big cities it is not too common. However once in a while, when having a peaceful walk along the streets of Zhuhai, you may be startled by a very loud snorting sound, followed by someone spitting. Although it truly is a disgusting sound, it is not considered rude here and so locals don’t even bat an eyelid. So, unfortunately you will have to learn to live with it and, unlike them, swallow your distaste.
Throughout my time in Zhuhai, I have attempted to fully immerse myself in the Chinese culture and have really enjoyed my time here because of it. Even these cultural differences that may be a little out of my comfort zone made my experience more enriched and interesting and, aside from maybe number 5, I wouldn’t want them to change.
Want to learn more about our destinations? Check the five majors cultural differences between the UK and Vietnam!
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.
Before coming to China I expected Kung Fu (功夫 gōngfu) to be omnipresent. It just seemed so obvious to me, having learned everything I know about China from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle. In retrospect that was probably not the best way to get to know the true Chinese culture. However, upon arriving at my host family my host brother immediately asked me if I played football (足球 zúqiú). I soon realised that football is in fact the most popular sport in China (real football, not the American kind). Nonetheless, I was undeterred and I tried to find a place to do Kung Fu. However, my road to success was made even more difficult by the fact that every time I asked someone where I could find a Kung Fu gym they said just go to one of the football courts and play some football. In the end I found a Kong Fu gym, but I was intrigued by the enormous popularity of football, despite the lack of international success at this sport.
So I researched and what I found surprised me. Not only does FC Barcelona have a training facility in Qingdao, the city I was placed in by InternChina, but a football academy has been set up in a Shaolin temple with the intent of incorporating football into Kung Fu. Yes, you read that correctly Shaolin Soccer is now a real thing. On one hand, the school is trying to increase the reputation of Shaolin Kung Fu on and increase the football skill of the citizens. On the other hand, they are combining the physical prowess the monks gain through rigorous training with the precision required to be a good footballer.
In fact this is all part of an effort to raise the standard of the national sport, because although it is the most popular sport in China, the national team is spectacularly bad. I was forced to witness this when watching international friendlies with my host family at dinner. The women’s national team is comparably good on the other hand, reaching the quarterfinals in the last world cup albeit receiving much less public attention. This success is probably a result of football being introduced into the curriculum from a very young age. Previously, talents did not receive the attention they needed in order to prosper into the potent footballers they could have been due to being occupied with school all day all week up to the age of 16. When this problem became apparent though, football was incorporated into daily school life and many schools now have football grounds.
This national initiative to become better at football, promoted by the eager football fan and president of China Xi Jinping, also consists of an increase in transfer funds in order to secure top players in the Chinese Super League, the top tier football league in China. Much of the money probably comes from wealthy businessmen trying to amass political power and general reputation – corruption is a big problem in Chinese football, too. In the 2016 winter transfer window the Chinese Super League spent more than the Premier League. This is more than the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 leagues combined on transfers last year, to record sum of £194 million.
Not all of the money was spent domestically but big clubs also tried to secure international top players. The striker, Alex Teireira, Liverpool’s top target for this winter’s transfer season, was indeed snatched by Jiangsu for the Asian record fee of £38 million. Among the pantheon of world class players recruited this year are names such as Jackson Martinez (£31 million), Ramires (£21 million) and Brazilian striker Elkeson (£13.9 million). Each of these transfers successively broke the record for the highest transfer fees. Cahill, Demba Ba and Gervinho already call the Middle Kingdom home. Oscar was offered £75 million to join Ramires’ Jiangsu, but decided to stay at Chelsea (with Jiangsu he would at least have a chance of winning a trophy this year). The high salaries also add to the lure of the Chinese Super League. Asamoah Gyah earns £243,000 a week, which made him the 8th highest player at this point in time.
At the moment most top players are South-American mainly due to the millions they are offered in China. As they are chiefly from poor families they do not care much for the prestige of the European league. This is very different in Europe where football players are not only chasing the next pay check but also the glory that is so deeply embedded in the football culture. For this reason European players only tend to leave Europe when they are approaching retirement whereas many South-American talents are going to China early on. South-American players near retirement are more likely to go to China, whereas European ones prefer destinations such as the USA. This is likely change, as Xi Jinping has announced that China would be a major footballing nation by 2025 and Rooney, Fernando Torres and Yaya Touré have all been linked with China.
The interest is bilateral though and top clubs such as FC Barcelona have opened academies in China, trying to turn quantity into quality. Some of the biggest European clubs, such as Atletico Madrid are now partially owned by Chinese billionaires who have gained interest in the European football hype and want to secure some of that footballing glory for themselves. Xi Jinping is reportedly a huge ManU-fan (god knows why).
The biggest competition to the Chinese Super League in terms of emerging football markets is the Major League Soccer in the USA. Both Leagues are relying on and prosper by snatching talent from European top clubs. In order to be more attractive for foreign players there is no wage cap on foreign players, whereas in the US only three designated players are allowed to earn more than the maximum cap. Legislation in China is also ever-changing in order to accommodate foreign players. 10 years ago there could only be 3 foreign players per team, now 5 players are allowed.
Considering all these different factors China has the potential to become a major player in international football. This is not limited to the clubs though, but it also includes the national team that is ever-improving. I guess only time will tell, but definitely look out for China in the next few years! You might have to buy plane tickets to China in the next few years as Xi Jinping has voiced interest in hosting (and winning) a World Cup.
You think this is weird? Welcome to China!
When I talk to my family and friends back home, either on Skype or on Whats App Call (such a genius invention!), they often ask me what is life in China is like. They want to know what the differences are between everyday life here compared to life back home. They want to know what the weather is like, how the food tastes, how many people were on the metro this morning, how much you pay for clothes and what the city looks like between the skyscrapers. They are generally very curious about what people in Chengdu are like. I always try my best to answer their questions in as much detail as possible, but I often find that there are some things about China you just cannot explain. You have to experience them yourself. Still, I would like to share some of my “What China is really like” knowledge with you and tell you a bit about what I experience here every day.
Living in China’s food capital, Chengdu, it almost certainly means putting on some weight. However, for some reason this seems to be quite surprising for people at home. “In China they eat so healthy and they have lots of vegetables so how is this even possible?”. What they do not understand is, the food here is simply amazing and there are just so many new dishes to try that you do not want to miss out on anything! If your Chinese friends invite you over for dinner or want to take you on a city food tour to introduce their favourite dishes to you, you do not want to offend them by saying no. Luckily, there are quite a lot of gyms here in Chengdu…
It is very common to share dishes here in China so when you have lunch together you often order several dishes that are served in the middle of the table so everybody can help themselves. If you are invited for dinner you can be certain that your host has prepared one dish per person. That might sound like a lot of work (and I am sure it probably is) but if you think about the concept of sharing dishes this actually makes sense. Your host can be sure that no one goes hungry and as a guest you are able to enjoy a variety of dishes rather than just one. Just think about all those times that you spent dreading the food at Western parties, but had to put on a brave face in order to please your host…
Direct English translations of Chinese dishes may sometimes sound, well, a little exotic and slightly misleading. I do not mean this in a negative but in a positive way. One of my favourite dishes is 鱼香茄子 , translated to “Fish flavoured eggplant”. If I had known this before I tried it I would have probably thought twice about eating it. But don’t judge a book by its cover (or in this case a dish by its name)!
One of the most striking things I noticed about China when I first arrived here was the fact that it is always incredibly loud. Of course this is somewhat normal for a big city but there is a difference between big city noise in China and big city noise in the rest of the world. This is probably because the Chinese love all kinds of entertainment so there are always various radio or TV programmes on all at the same time. Display screens are literally everywhere.
The traffic here is also super loud. Not just because there are so many cars but because everybody, particularly taxi drivers, seems to love honking their car horns for no apparent reason. After more than three months of living here I have come to the conclusion that this is probably not the unfriendly “get out of my way why did they even give you a driver’s license!” kind of honking you often find in the West, but more like a way of communicating. After living in China for a while you just blend out the noise and it becomes normal.
If you are feeling unwell here in China you often hear “just rest and drink hot water”, as if this was some sort of miracle cure to make all kinds of pain disappear immediately. You know what? It works! This may seem totally weird to Westerners and I must admit I felt a bit strange about it as well when I was first given this piece of advice. After all, if you want a hot drink why not just drink tea or coffee? but just like with all things in life, this is something you’ll eventually get used to. Drinking hot water is actually really good for you!
If you are a foreigner like me, get used to people whispering “Wooow, beautiful” when you walk by. Even if you actually look your ‘worst’ on that day. It gives your ego a nice boost and I often cannot help but think how nice it would be if people at home did the same. At least to some Chinese people I look like a top model, so I do not have to worry about make-up and clothes all that much. I am not sure how many family albums or WeChat moments my picture has graced so far but it must be a lot. I often ask myself what people do with the photos after having taken them but I guess I´ll never find out. All that remains to say then is: Happy snapping!
Last but not least, some of my “top weird China experiences ” :
- One morning, when I stepped in the elevator there was a young gentleman on a ladder trying to change the light bulb. I was slightly confused and wanted to take the other lift but the repairman apparently thought that this was not necessary. He asked me to just ignore him and kept on working while the lift was going up and down…
- When I took an overnight train, people tried to sell me singing fish and toe clippers.
- There are no seat belts in taxis’ in Chengdu.
- Chinese song covers of popular Western pop songs are extremely funny.
- There are cars with only three wheels.
- There are so many things Chinese people manage to stack on their bikes…
- No limit on where you can sleep in China – everywhere is a possibility.
- Shops or restaurants vanish over night.
- Two days later there’ll be a new shop in it’s place.
- There are employees for literally everything.
- Some buildings have elevators just for scooter drivers.
If you want first hand China experience, apply now!
…and suddenly it is 2016 and my China adventure is over!I definitely learned a lot within the last 5 months. Not only did I gain a lot of experience within the working life, I also met people from across the world, and got around in a country without speaking the language.
I arrived in Chengdu at night time and the Anshun bridge was one of the first things I saw during my first night. I think, I stopped every 10m to take a picture from a different angle.
Living in a country with over 1 billion people, 7 major different dialects, and a culture completely different than the one I grew up in was interesting, challeging and exciting. It was also a lot of fun though because I never knew what the next day was going to bring.
During my internship I co- organized a trip to Kangding which is approx. 8h away from Chengdu. A group of 12 people went on the trip and it was absolutely amazing. It was the first time in a while that I had seen a blue sky, and it was the very first time ever I was over 4,000 metres above sea level and climbed up a mountain. The view was absolutely breathtaking and it was a once in a lifetime kind of experience.
I was also very delighted when I got to see the Giant Buddha in Leshan because in 1996 it was listed one of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The area around the Buddha looked absoluely mystical the day we visited it because it was kind of foggy. Leshan is only 2h away from Chengdu and it is just amazing how much cultural sites the Sichuan province has to offer.
I really enjoyed using my weekends, travelling outside of Chengdu but also spending a lot of time within the city, exploring it and definitely eating a lot of local dishes. My most favourite dish which I probably ate once a week, was handmade noodles with potatoes, vegetables and a small amount of meat. I would have never thought about eating noodles and potatoes in one dish but now that my time is China is coming to an end, I don’t know what I will do without this dish in my future. Generally, the variety of food and its prize in China absolutely amazed me. I no longer want to cook at home because it so cheap and convenient to just get noodles down the road.
I am really thankful for the opportunity the InternChina team has given me and the things I have learned during my marketing internship. I know exactly what I want to do in life but as for now, it is time to say goodbye to the crazy, the different, the lovely, the very unique China!
If you are struggling with what to do next, if you want to get your ducks in a row, get out of your comfort zone, widen your horizon, don’t be afraid to try something new and apply here for a life changing experience.
Time is flying by, so let’s have a look – What has changed in Chengdu?
General information about Chengdu
Chengdu is still the fifth-most populous city in China with 14,047,625 people living there. Chengdu is one of the most important economic, financial, commercial, cultural, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is one of the 40 busiest airports in the world. More than 260 Fortune 500 companies have established branches in Chengdu due to huge demand of Western China.
Development in 2015
In April, several firms based in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia also kicked off a 2-billion-yuan (US$315 million) project to construct a range of office buildings, research centers and other facilities meant to foster business and cultural exchange between China and Germany.
In May direct flights between Moscow and Chengdu have started. Sichuan Airlines will use Airbus 330 aircraft to travel between Chengdu and Moscow three times per week, opening the west China’s first direct route to Russia.
In July, the 1,578-square-kilometer multi-function area became even more accessible thanks to the opening of a new Metro line linking it with downtown Chengdu, augmenting existing bus routes to the area.
The recent 3rd Sichuan Agricultural Expo & Chengdu International Urban Modern Agricultural Expo, which was held from November 19 and 23, highlighted the integration of modern agriculture with high technology, entertainment as well as the fast-growing e-commerce industry.
Just last month Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport has seen its annual passenger throughput surpassing 40 million on December 10, strengthening the city’s status as China’s fourth-largest aviation hub.
The construction of Tianfu New Area is implemented in three stages. The first stage was from 2011-2015 which means that it is almost completed. During this stage, the New Century Global Center was built. The multipurpose building in the Tianfu New Area is the world’s largest building in terms of floor area.
The stages also include building and finishing the subway line network in Chengdu. A huge success for Chengdu was their 3. subway line opening with line 4, on December 27th. The plan for the next 3 years is to finish and open 4 more lines making travelling within Chengdu most convenient for everyone.
The mid-term stage is from 2016-2020 and will be used to make full use of the new airport, high-speed railways and expressways and other regional transport hubs and traffic facilities in Chengdu. It is basically used to create a state-level modern industrial highland, and realize the regeneration of an industrial Chengdu.
The long-term period is scheduled for 2021-2030. The goal is to complete all constructions in Tianfu New Area in an all-round way, promote the industrial upgrading and quality improvement, strengthen high-end consumption, scientific & technical innovation and cultural communication, improve the integrated services and build a state-level innovation-oriented city as well as an international modern new city suitable for industries, business, and living.
Chengdu is on the rise and the most successful economy of any mainland Chinese city.
If you want to be a part of the business development, apply here.
For people from outside of Asia and very often even for many from within, China is a place nothing short of surprises. I was first attracted to this country because I felt that for me as a European, China is about as different as it gets. I have only lived here for a short while but I have already seen a fair degree of amazing and astonishing things, possibly more than in any other country I have ever travelled. China just never ceases to amaze me and whether you are only visiting for a few weeks or if you have lived here for many years, you´ll still see things you never even thought were possible. Just as the United States have often been called the land of unlimited opportunities, China must surely be the land of unlimited surprises.
Now, where to start when there is so many amazing facts to share and so many interesting stories to tell? I feel like limiting China´s most interesting and astonishing characteristics down to a list of mere ten would not do this great country justice. But still, one has to start somewhere and I promise this won´t be the last blog about cultural differences and surprises. So for now only one question remains: Ready to be amazed?
Toilet paper was invented in China in the late 1300s. It was for emperors only.
While toilet paper in China these days can still not be disposed of by simply throwing it into the toilet because there is a fair chance it might block drainage, the Chinese were still one of the first nations to use it. You thought adding perfume to it was a modern day invention? Indeed it is not! To make the overall experience, well, more pleasant for Chinese royalty used to certain standards, perfumed toilet paper was produced in extra large sheets (2-foot x 3-foot)- truly a royal treat! If you are fascinated by this fact and want to learn make sure to visit this website: http://www.toiletpaperhistory.net/.
They have cricket fighting competitions.
Who needs rugby or football when there´s a jolly good cricket fight to watch? And I am not talking about the popular English sport that involves bowlers, fielders and sticks! No, this kind of sport actually involves live crickets fighting each other until last man, pardon me, cricket standing. And the Chinese? They are loving it! In fact, some Chinese even spend several thousand yuan on breeding and training those little guys! Sounds odd to you? Well, other countries, other customs!
Chinese police use geese instead of police dogs.
Just another oddity! To be fair, I haven´t seen them do so in big cities yet. But still, can you imagine any place where the police use geese to fight crime? Why geese, you might be wondering; they won´t do no harm to anybody. Dogs are surely more useful! Not only are they considerably bigger and much stronger but they are also much more aggressive and can attack properly. But guess what, so can geese! Ever seen a goose in action? They ain´t no messin´ around with, I´m tellin ya! Apart from their extremely aggressive nature geese are also proven to have better vision than dogs and they require less looking after.
Pizza was invented in China.
This must come as a bit of a shock! Our favourite Italian food a sham? This is almost scandalous! Have we credited the wrong nation for the invention of this heavenly delight all along? Well, it probably depends on what you define by pizza. The part that includes tomato sauce and cheese is most certainly of Italian origin, however, the concept introduced to Europe by the famous adventurer and traveller Marco Polo came from China. Some soothing news after this shocking discovery: most people would probably still prefer Italian pizza over the Chinese version since the latter often has, well, rather interesting toppings such as mayonnaise or fruit… Want to know more? Check out this website: http://www.originofpizza.com/
(Yes, there actually is a website called the origins of pizza.com. The world is full of wonders…)
There are cell phone lanes for pedestrians who walk and text.
Every time I hear a new story about China I think it truly can´t get any better. But then I see something even more incredible… Like, get this, a line for pedestrians who are more preoccupied with their phones than watching the traffic and looking out where they are going?!? You might think this a bit silly but I am sure that in the age of smartphones this downright revolutionary measure has already saved a lot of lives! After all it´s better safe than sorry!
The early Chinese emperors kept pandas to ward off evil spirits and natural disasters.
China´s pandas have long been adored by its people and they have been regarded as national treasure for centuries. These giant “bear cats”, which date back two to three million! years, were considered as a symbol of peace. As such they were often offered as precious gifts to royalty and foreign countries in order to demonstrate goodwill and peaceful intentions. Especially in Chengdu, home of the Giant Panda Research Base, it is hard to miss the overall panda enthusiasm and if you have the chance to visit this city you probably won´t be leaving it without a cute little panda souvenir.
Ketchup was invented in China as a fish sauce called Ke-tsiap.
And there was me thinking this must surely be an American invention! Or German perhaps, since Heinz Ketchup is one of the most renowned ketchup brands in the world. But once again the credit for one of the most popular fast food related items goes to China. Told ya this country was full of surprises!
Fortune cookies are not a traditional Chinese custom. They were invented in 1920 by a worker in the Key Heong Noodle Factory in San Francisco.
Now, imagine this. A dinner at your favourite Chinese restaurant without a proper fortune cookie before you go home? That sounds rather disappointing! To some people getting a fortune cookie which promises them that they are about to meet a handsome stranger or win the lottery even is the most exciting part. However, if you were planning on travelling to China in the hope of getting even more authentic cookies you are in for a disappointment. But China´s delicious cuisine will soon make up for this loss, I promise!
Despite its size, all of China is in one time zone.
China is, after Russia, Canada and the United States, the fourth biggest country in the world. However, other than the USA or Russia, which both have 11 time zones, or considerably smaller countries like Spain and Portugal, which have at least two different time zones, China only has one: Beijing time. This makes China the biggest single-timezone area in the world. Has it always been like this, you might be asking yourselves now. As a matter of fact, it has not! It was Mao Zedong who, after the Communist revolution in 1949, reduced the number of time zones from five to one to enhance the new national unity.
White, rather than black, is the Chinese colour for mourning and funerals.
So this means no white wedding I guess. White is the Chinese colour of death; it represents ancestral spirits & ghosts and it is often used during ghost festivals. Its meaning is not all negative; white also represents purity and the unknown. Its opposing colour black symbolizes immortality, stability, power and will. The ancient Chinese regarded black as the colour of kings. It is also often used as the symbol of winter. Red or gold are considered as lucky colours and they can often be found at festivals like Chinese New Year since they represent good fortune and joy. Red is also very often be seen at weddings; Chinese women love wearing red dresses.
Cannot believe any of this? Come and see for yourself. You´ll never truly get it till you go!
Apply here, to experience your own Chinese adventure!
Andrew studies ‘International Hotel Management’ in his 3rd year at the University of West London. He is enrolled in a four year program in which one of the years must be spend abroad which led him to apply for an internship at the Crowne Plaza Panda Garden in Chengdu.
The 5 star hotel is located 45 minutes outside of the city center and is only 5 minutes away from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding which is the biggest facility of this kind in the world. It is home to 60 giant pandas, but also has some red pandas and it is one of the biggest reasons foreign guests come to stay in the Crowne Plaza Panda Garden.
Andrew decided to do an internship in China to gain experience in an international company, where he is able to practice the knowledge he learned in several of his classes.
“I really enjoyed studying finance because it will be of great value to me when I obtain my goal and become a general hotel manager in the future.”
The main tasks of Andrew’s internship are making sure that the foreign guests will have an excellent time in Chengdu. As soon as they arrive, he prepares them with a welcome pack, a map of Chengdu as well as the panda base and makes sure they have everything they need.
“I start working at 11am every day, which gives me enough time to work out. Sometimes I even go for a swim in the pool. Afterwards I often eat pancakes and bacon in the hotel restaurant before I get ready for work.”
Andrew gets to experience the dream of living and eating in a 5 star hotel every day.
If you want to know more about Andrew’s experience and see how the hotel looks like, watch our video below:
If you are studying something similar as Andrew and want to gain international experience, apply now!