Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province, the most liveable city in West China and the fourth most liveable city in China. Located in the heart of the country it is the gate for travelers to Tibet in the West, Xi’an in the North and Kunming in the South. Chengdu’s history stretches back over 4000 years. Since the Chinese government started to promote the “Go West” campaign, hundreds of big international companies have moved their production to Chengdu and Chongqing. Check out our infographic below:
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When arranging internships in China for students from the “West”, quite a few future interns ask us what kind of businesses actually do operate in Chengdu, meaning what the business landscape looks like, and how companies actually look like from the inside. It is impossible to answer these questions in a blog post, so I thought I will answer all these questions in a blog post.
Together with students from the De Montfort University Leicester I visited three different companies within only a few days. We went to a law firm, a logistics company and an architecture firm. Each company showed us around and explained their business to us. As I have seen them within a few days only, I was able to see somewhat “natural” (branch specifics and industry differences), cultural and individual differences between them a bit clearer than usual. I think that these three companies represent a nice sample of the diverse company culture you are able to experience here in Chengdu.
The first firm we visited is a large logistics firm headquartered in Chengdu. The Chinese “laoban” (老板), who is also the founder, proudly presented to us the company history that prettty much resembled his own biography “from the dish washer to millionaire story”. What started with one single truck in Chengdu is now a logistics company that operates with several hundreds of cars all over China. In my eyes, this company perfectly represents something that may be called the “Chinese Dream”: with a good education and valubale guanxi-connections in your city, you can actually do very, very well – without too many buraucratic obstacles or other hurdles on the way.
The second commpany was a Chinese law firm that problaby has the poshest office I have ever seen (in real life). They gave us a really good and interesting ppt-presentation (notice the slight difference when we visited the architecture firm). Unexpectedly, the “laoban” – one of the senior partners of the firm – popped in for a few minutes. And it was one of those unexpected, short, spontanious moments that are quite inquisitive for someone looking for cultural differences between Western and Chinese companies. The senior partner actually burst into the room and immediatley took over complete control of the meeting, hold his own presentation for good ten minutes. Then he left. In Germany, for instance, this situation would have been taken place slightly different, I guezz. However, we were actually very honoured that he found time for us and it was a real pleasure.
And then there was this really hipster architecture and interior design firm. “Hipster” may be one of the most overused, blurry and inappropriately used word since the beginning of the century (also note how many “sensational” things suddenly occur in Germany these days). However, just imagine design people in design clothes presenting design in a perfectly designed “prezi” (no ppt)- there you go. It was really fun and one of those moments where I thought “dammit, why haven’t I studied something cool?”. The company is managed by English architects and designers who cannot speak Chinese on a professional level – that’s why they are assisted in their sales and business development by a Chinese business women.
All in all, you see three quite different phenomena that all subsume as “companies in China”: a somewhat traditionally managed logistics company where its employees sing the company song together every morning (I am not joking); a law firm with steep hierarchies residing in an office that rather resembles a four star hotel than an office with a fantastic view onto the biggest building in the world and the immense Tianfu Software Park; and a cool foreign architecture company with shallow hierarchies where pop music is played throughout the loft office all day long.
In a nutshell, Chinese companies are like a box of chocolate for us arranging internships and you interning in one of them: some are traditional, some have an unorthodox style, some are fluffy, others are hard (but long lasting!), and basically all are enjoyable. However, you never know what you gonna get.
Want to get your piece from the Chinese box of chocolate? Apply now for an internship in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai!
Hard plastic chairs which were made to urge the customers to eat fast,a simple setting that might attract only kids and bored teens. These are the characteristics of most McDonald branches in the West, but in China the McDonald’s experience is taking a big turn. Unlike the west, where McDonald’s is regarded as a cheap meal, in China, as there are much cheaper dining options, McDonald’s has attracted mostly middle-class customers. Moreover, as a symbol of American culture, in food, design and dining style, many Chinese enjoy sensing this western-American-‘modern’ ambiance and choose a McDonalds’ meal. This could be said about other fast-food chains as well, for example Pizza Hut.
Like KFC, the spine of its menu is built from the classics. Cheeseburgers, Fries. McNuggets. But come 5PM, when the special dinner options kick in, something happens. Let me introduce you to the “Beef Rice Bowl”.
McDonald’s launched rice dishes last summer as part of their China push, which has seen those open hundreds of restaurants in the country in the past three years. That the amount of these dishes available has dwindled in the short time since seems to indicate that maybe Chinese people aren’t looking for Chinese-style meals when they come to American-style food venues.
A unique feature of Chinese McDonald’s locations is the “McExpress” walk-up window, which sells a small range of drinks and ice cream desserts. Most McExpress windows are attached to restaurants, but in some cases, they can be physically independent, typically in locations such as shopping malls, department stores and subway stations. Most major urban locations offer delivery for an extra fee. Deliveries are usually made by electrically powered scooters, although in several cities where motorcycle bans are in place, a conventional courier bicycle is used. The food is normally carried in a large insulated backpack.
Some things you need to know about 麦当劳:
In China, Chicken McNuggets can come with the barbecue, sweet and sour, honey and hot mustard, or chili garlic sauce. Chinese menus also include crispy Buffalo chicken wings, called McWings. All chicken burgers offered in Chinese McDonald’s use thigh fillet (e.g., Premium Grilled Thigh Fillet Burger, Hot and Spicy Grilled Thigh Fillet Burger), rather than breast meat. The Big ‘n’ Tasty is sold as the Big ‘n’ Beefy in the Chinese market, and is topped with cheese, cucumber, and mildly spicy Thousand Island dressing. Pies come in two standard flavors: pineapple or taro, although special flavors including chocolate and banana have also been offered on a limited basis. There is also a seasonal “Chinese meals” available, including the Grilled Chicken Burger and curly fries, with a horoscope of the twelve zodiac animals of Chinese astrology and traditional red envelope.
Want to enjoy the tasty treats McDonald’s offers or prefer the Chinese local food – Apply here for a great internship and culinary adventure.
Since more and more interns seem to be flooding into China for the summer heat, one main question that they always ask on the drive from the airport seems to be ‘What’s the nightlife like here?’. Indeed, all my British friends back home gleefully rub their hands on Skype and question ‘Can you even go partying in China?’ My reply to the latter question is ‘Yes – be quiet!’ and my reply to the former is ‘The nightlife in China has something for everyone’:To go back to my English friends’ comments; I think many of them fantasize that Chinese people don’t like western music, dancing or drink and imagine the clubs here to be tiny little tea houses with quiet music. The opposite in fact is true; all the nightclubs in Qingdao are packed with Western and Chinese party makers and to be honest, there are only a few major differences between my clubs back home and the clubs in China.
First of all, there is generally less dance area in Chinese clubs, more tables and places to sit which suits me perfectly after 2 or 3 gin and tonics. Secondly, what is rather exciting in Chinese clubs is the real life performance that usually happens around midnight. This involves a ‘celebrity’ act performing on stage and dancing, I enjoy it as it breaks up the evening nicely. Sometimes their outfits are more of an acquired taste, but hey – can you ever dress too jazzy?
Another thing that is pleasant about Chinese bars and clubs is the free alcohol; something that would not economically work for British clubs or work very well for local hospitals in UK student cities, but yes in China, many free drinks are available especially to the ladies. Wednesday nights in Qingdao offer a great break in the week with the InterContinental roof top bar offering a free cocktail followed by Angelina’s bar offering free drinks to girls until midnight. Who can really say no? Well come to think of it, you may need to say no sometimes; Fake alcohol can be a little troublesome and something to be aware of. In Beijing last December, police seized 37,000 bottles of fake booze destined for Sanlitun Bar Street…However, as long as you don’t drink too much you will be okay.
In terms of music, the major clubs play nothing too dissimilar of what would be played in any club in England so you can still move your hips to most of your favorite tunes here. Qingdao also has a large variety of bars where you can do some dancing but mostly chill and hang out. Some of my suggestions are Freeman, LPG and Dubliners; these all offer different vibes and a great place just to be with friends. Qingdao also has the major advantage of being on the coast. This means – beach parties! Last weekend the city held one of it’s first beach parties this summer on beach number three with a view of the evening lights and city-scape of Qingdao. Not only was there great music, free beers, about 45% of InternChina interns present – barbecue food was also available so I would definitely recommend it to anyone when another opportunity rises.
Don’t like bars and not a ‘clubber’? Prefer to drink in solace? This is no problem either. Alcohol is abundant in most convenience stores and big spirit brands are available at average prices in supermarkets such as Carrefour and Aeon. If you have had a particularly heavy week – we could suggest Bai jui which literally translates as ‘white alcohol’ . It is a very strong spirit that is sold everywhere in China. (Generally about 40–60% alcohol by volume (ABV). Bottle prices range from 10RMB TO 1000RMB. Personal tip: Do not mistake a cheap bottle for a bottle of water; it may not refresh you as desired!
If you are a more sophisticated individual, you may prefer to get a bottle of chardonnay in China which at first I thought was impossible but now have found a little hideout near the coffee street called Dongzhou Wine cellar. There you can get 3 bottles of wine for 100RMB (£10 or €11). One last thing to advise is just to be careful and be responsible, you are in a foreign country and need to feel 100% safe at all times. If you are wanting a more relaxed evening without all the loud music and ‘booozing’, I always take a nice walk along the coast in Qingdao at sunset and enjoy the area.
So to conclude Qingdao this summer has a lot to offer in terms of evening activities. Here at InternChina, we recommend a work hard – play hard attitude. We hope you get a lot out of your internship and wish you learn many things to aid your career and also help your host company. But after 6pm – when you finish work, we wish you love the Chinese night atmosphere and make many friends along the way.
Want to enjoy an internship in China but also enjoy making new friends and enjoy the Chinese nightlife? – Apply now
You may not have heard of Qingdao before, but to Chinese people and westerners living in China, Qingdao is one of the most sought after living destinations in the whole country. The mix of clean air, pristine beaches, a moderate climate, active expat community and its close proximity to Beijing and Shanghai make Qingdao a dream location for ‘foreigners’ living in China. Qingdao is a city with over eight million inhabitants, about 2.5 million of which live in the downtown area, and boasts the third busiest shipping port in Asia.
The Qingdao featured internship this month gives you Brighture, a finance company situated near the downtown area of Qingdao near the infamous coffee street where there are many restaurants and places to relax and hide away. The office also is close by to a large shopping plaza, and supermarket. The firm is a professional finance and tax service company, composed of several teams of experienced staff with services covering tax consulting, accounting services, business consulting and more. Brighture is in an office complex on the 6th floor with several offices, meeting rooms and work places. The firm employs over 50 staff in this office but also has a branch in Shanghai it is regularly in contact with.
I was welcomed early morning (around 8.45am) on Monday to have a basic introduction and overview of the company and its functions; There, I met the friendly office manager and an IC intern – John, from the Netherlands. It is only John’s second week but he has already learned a lot, his main responsibilities are the following:
1. Working with foreign clients
The firm has two different types of clients; Firstly, Chinese companies in the Shandong province that need accounting assistance and book keeping services. Secondly, international enterprises that need business advice and consultation for when they want to create a business in Qingdao. Brighture works with a variety of clients in the jewelry business, supermarket business and many more industries. The intern is then able to help on the above projects.
2. Gaining an overview of the financial system in China
Financial systems in China have many similarities than in the west, but it is always complicated and a sometimes lengthy process to set up a business anywhere. John will be partaking and assisting in the entire process – From a firm having an initial entire idea of wanting to set up shop in china to making sure all financial legislation is complete, to making sure the company is up and running in China
3. Working on the business consulting function of the firm.
John’s third role entails assisting his manager with the English consulting department of the company. These tasks involve talking to clients, working on VAT refunds, and informing customers of the business regulations in China and making the process easy and clear whilst cooperating with the accountants and other departments of the company.
‘’I’m really looking forward to learning about the Chinese financial structure and getting a better understanding of the local culture, it’s great as I help my boss who is the only foriegn person in the company but at the same time really get to know my Chinese colleagues well . I feel like I can learn a lot with Brighture’ If you want to here more about John’s time so far at QDFN01, watch his video review on youtube.
Especially in the UK , I know first hand how difficult it is to obtain a finance internship during your university life. Many of my friends and peers go through the endless hoops and long applications in order to secure a summer position in the world’s largest banks and accounting firms. It is always good to know that you can successfully complete a finance internship with an international twist in China and really gain a lot of experience. John is here completing a two month internship and in his spare time plans to go to Shanghai to see the great Chinese party city and of course – clubbing and cultural activities.
If you are interested in this specific finance firm – Apply here and quote QDFN01 as a reference.
With the football world cup in Brazil just about to start on Friday morning 4 AM Chinese time, I get asked by friends back in Germany the same questions time and again: How is it like to watch the world cup in China? What is the Chinese world cup experience like? Do they follow it at all?
In answering these questions, you’ll have to differentiate between the general atmosphere in the streets in Chengdu on the one side and certain places like bars and cafes prone to foreign (mostly “western”) football enthusiasts on the other side. With regards to the general atmosphere in the city, you barely see signs that the world cup is about to start. Images you may be familiar with in your home country – national flags in the streets, special world cup bargains in supermarkets and bakeries – are not that often seen here in Chengdu.
Well, this has something to do with the standing of China’s own football league and its national team. The fact that the Chinese national team is not participating in the world cup 2014 in Brazil doesn’t really help in creating a somewhat exhilarating world cup atmosphere. Due to their relatively bad performance in the world, the Chinese professional football league as well as the country’s national team have a very bad image among Chinese sport fanatics. There are quite a few Chinese, who follow European football leagues, but I have never met someone who talks well about Chinese football and this eventually has a soothing effect on the general atmosphere in the streets.
On the contrary, the Chinese Basketball league and its national team are considered to be performing better in the world. Chinese NBA stars like Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian have certainly triggered the fan support of basketball in China. That’s why quite a lot of Chinese people will rather chose to watch the world’s most popular basketball games also starting this week: the NBA finals.
However, when it comes to certain places in the city, I am still expecting a quite exuberant world cup atmosphere. There quite a few football maniacs from western countries among the 14 million people living here in Chengdu. You can already notice that Western bars, restaurants, and supermarkets (such as Carrefour) have started big marketing campaigns in order to attract Western (and Chinese) Football fans.
There is one really great place for watching football in Chengdu that can only been beaten by very few places in the West: The “Beer Nest”. The “Beer Nest” is a brewpub with fantastic self-brewed Indian Pale Ale and German wheat beer among many more classy beers from around the globe. For the world cup, they will put up two big screens and offer special Belgium import kegs for the cup final – can you ask for more?
There are football oases all around Chengdu, such as the Irish pub “Shamrock” not far away from our office, and a so-called “Fan Fest” held on the rooftop of a skyscraper downtown. We, at the Chengdu office at InternChina are very much looking forward to mingle with Chinese and foreign football fans from all around the world – I expect it to be a special experience for all of us.
Every day in China, we take out our bags to buy our groceries, our water and bargains but we never stop to think about the currency of this country and its origins: The renminbi (RMB) is the official currency of the People’s Republic of China. The name literally means “people’s currency”. The currency is issued by the People’s Bank of China, the monetary authority of China. What they issue currently is: ¥0.1, ¥0.2, ¥0.5 (1, 2, and 5 jiao), ¥1, ¥2, ¥3, ¥5, ¥10, ¥20, ¥50, and ¥100 Yuan. I will mainly be talking about the larger notes – Yuan. All bank notes are made by China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation, there is one in Chengdu so have a visit if you are there sometime!
As a British citizen, currently one pound Stirling will equal ten Yuan (roughly) so it is convenient as I can divide or multiply by ten accordingly to judge the value of goods. It also makes you realize how inexpensive daily life in China is; for example where I live in Buckinghamshire (north of London), it costs me £3.75 for a twenty minute journey into town. When I compare this to my commuting cost in Qingdao, it is one Yuan for the same bus duration. My daily bus ticket in England now seems 37 times more expensive than it should be, so here I present you the humble one Yuan which can take you basically anywhere in the City.
On the 1-yuan note, there is a portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, while the reverse is the Xihu Lake in the south-eastern Chinese city Hangzhou. Just to add confusion, there is also a one Yuan coin, but we will just stick with bank notes in this blog.
The 5 yuan – This note also has a portrait of Mao Zedong and the reverse is Taishan Maintain, a mountain in east China’s Shandong province listed by the UNESCO as a world natural and cultural heritage.
What can this get you? A five Yuan note can roughly give you a packet of Oreo cookies if you’re craving western biscuits. For some bizarre reason, I normally consume around five packets per week but need to stop this immediately as summer is coming and I do not want to be mistaken as a whale, whilst I sunbathe on Qingdao beach. However, they are delicious and a handy snack …
The 10-yuan banknote is a very useful one. The obverse of the ordinary one is a portrait of Mao Zedong while its reverse is the drawing of the scenic Three Gorges. See below:
10 Yuan can get you a variety of things. In Qingdao, you will be able to give this note to a taxi driver for your trip around the main area of the city centre. If we go back to the price of my bus ticket in Buckinghamshire, this taxi journey is still around 4 times cheaper, so if you have lots of luggage, shopping or coming back from a club, this ten Yuan is definitely worth spending.
The 20-yuan banknote, debuted in 1999, has yet another portrait of Mao Zedong and its reverse features a drawing of the scenic Lijiang River in South China. If you budget well and you are with many people, you can usually use a 20 Yuan note and maybe a bit more change for a delicious traditional meal at a restaurant. This is one thing I love about eating out in China; you can get such good value and meal choices for between 20 and 35 RMB. Qingdao is famous for its delicious sea food so many different dishes are available. But if you like sea life but not for eating, an InternChina friend last week bought a pet gold fish, with the bowl and food included just with the 20 Yuan note!
I love seeing a 50 Yuan in my bag as it can mean I can buy all of the above , so usually your basics for the day. A meal out – tick, a bus journey – tick …some more Oreo cookies – Yes! So usually, you will at least need a 50 Yuan note for the day.
Last weekend, I thought I would treat myself to a nice bottle of Californian rose, and the sales assistant did suggest a White Zinfandel (my favourite) so I was delighted to pay the hefty 100 Yuan price tag. However, you can get wine for cheaper – I am just picky. Similarly the 100 Yuan note can get you pretty much anything, dinners out, bus tickets, taxi journeys, a pet fish and even more Oreo cookies! The obverse of the 1999-type 100-yuan notes is a portrait of …you’ve guessed it – Mao Zedong while a picture of the Great Hall of the People is printed on the reverse.
So who was Mao Zedong?
Mao Zedong, also transcribed as Mao Tse-tung, and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese Communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, He was responsible for the policies of the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the ‘Cultural Revolution’.
So hopefully this has given you a rough outline of the current Chinese currency and makes you want to come to China and start spending. Overall, as mentioned in the blog, the daily cost of living here is very inexpensive in comparison to western countries.
Want to explore the culture of China and also get some bargains – Apply now for an internship this summer.
It has been just over one month now, since I packed up my life again and stepped onto the plane headed for Qingdao. Before that, I had spent six months in Chengdu – a fiery city, full of exciting opportunities, impressive architecture and racing development.
Since I’ve now lived in both Chengdu and Qingdao, I think it’s time I put into words how I felt the two cities compare and differ, what I miss and welcome.
Firstly, let’s talk about food. Qingdao has a delicious variety of seafood – clams in particular are my favourite, as well as other great dishes such as aubergine with potato and peppers (Di san xian), or something akin to sweet and sour pork (tangsu liji), which are always a favourite at our Thursday dinners. The food is mild, although there are spicy dishes too of course, and the street barbecue is a highlight after every night out. Other than that, you also get beer in a bag… what else can I say?
All this is great, but honestly speaking, I do actually miss the spicy kick the Chengdu food offers. Paul (Office Manager Chengdu) probably won’t believe me when I say this though, since I’ve only ever complained about the spice while I was there… Sorry Paul, looks like I developed a love for spice only after I left! Key ingredients to Chengdu food are a lot of chillies and the famous Sichuan pepper (Huajiao) which creates a peculiar numbing feeling in your mouth when you bite it. These two (and quite a few more spices) create a culinary experience that you will most definitely never forget, and although it takes some getting used to, the Sichuan food is bursting with vibrant colours and flavours. When you visit Chengdu, make sure to try the renowned hot pot. It might look daunting at first, with a chilli-red soup that is filled to the brim with Sichuan peppers, but trust me, you’ll love it!
So, in my book the food point goes to Chengdu, I think.
Next up, scenery. This is a difficult one, because both cities have their own character and particularities. Chengdu is a fast-developing and growing city. Home to the immense global centre, impressive malls and striking roadwork, Chengdu’s cityscape is an awe-inspiring sight. Travel a little further out of the city however, and you’ll encounter beautiful mountains, hot springs and little villages. I particularly recommend climbing Emei Mountain and visiting the Giant Buddha at Leshan when you get the chance. And of course we cannot forget the Giant Panda Research Base. A must-see for cute and cuddly fans, and apart from watching the lazy giants munching away at bamboo, it’s also nice to simply stroll through the vast park of bamboo forests, lakes and gardens.
Qingdao on the other hand boasts long, sandy beaches, a beautiful sea side promenade, mountains in the middle of the city and captivating architecture both old and new. Admittedly, I haven’t explored Qingdao as much as Chengdu, but I look forward to discovering the city, the mountains and the seaside. Particularly the Old Town, in the West of Qingdao, is an area I would like to see more of. I have visited the old church and seen some of the German architecture, but I think it’s not something you can do in one afternoon.
So overall, both cities have a lot to offer from fantastic scenery to amazing food and rich culture. I miss Chengdu’s lifestyle and hope to return soon, but I am also loving my new life by the sea and beaches!
Which adventure and destination will you choose? Apply Now!