Congratulations! You have acquired an internship in China! By now, you must have researched all about how to successfully communicate and work with your soon to be Chinese co-workers. Through the research you have gathered, you must have read about “face’’ and “guanxi’’ a lot. Well, here’s a bit more, with tips and advice from two of our partnered companies here in China!
What is Guanxi or Mianzi?
Here is a quick introduction for those that don’t know these two concepts. Guanxi, or “relationships,” is used to describe relationships in their many forms. These can be between friends, families, or businesses.
You can read more about the concept of guanxi from James here, but it is absolutely essential to conducting business and succeeding in China.
Mianzi or “face”, explained here, is so important in Chinese social, political, and business circles that it can literally make or break a deal! It can be translated as “honour”, “reputation” and “respect,” and the concepts are deeply rooted in the Chinese culture.
So how do you achieve Guanxi and Mianzi??
There are a few ways you can better your guanxi and gain some mianzi- read some comments from our partnered companies on how best to do it!
“Be open-minded, curious, and prepared!” – Marketing firm
The lifestyle and the business environment in China is different than it is in the West, so have an open mind for your new lifestyle here in China. You need to try being patient and understanding of your new cultural surroundings and work with potential language barriers.
Ask lots of questions while you are at your internship! Don’t worry about bothering your new co-workers, they want to help you, so ask away!
You should also engage in conversations while you are at social events, such as dinners, with your coworkers- this a great way of building your “guanxi!” However, you should remember to keep your questions reasonable and appropriate for the situation. You don’t want to ask any questions which might embarrass or cause your coworkers to lose face themselves.
Even though you might not know much about China in general, the city you are in, or the language, you can always do a bit of research to show you care enough to learn. This might mean doing some research before you visit, and continuing to ask questions and engage while you are there.
“Offer to buy dinner or go out to eat, and asking for help with and opinions on your work.” – Education company
But this doesn’t need to be anything fancy! Even something simple such as grabbing some nice dumplings or noodles at lunch can do the trick. Spending some quality time with your co-workers will be good for your guanxi and networking, and for your daily working life! If your coworkers ask you out for dinner after a long day of work, take the chance and enjoy a good meal and conversations- you will build your guanxi, mianzi and social circle!
Finally, ask for help when you need it. This is still an internship! You aren’t expected to know everything, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you don’t know something. Asking a colleague will show you are engaged and interested in the work, and they will appreciate sharing their knowledge of the task with you and gain face. It’s as great to earn as it is to give face!
Feeling ready for that internship now? Best of luck and enjoy your time in China!
Don’t have an internship yet? Check out 5 reasons why you should get one in China!
Hey travel addicts! Let me show you the Great wall as you would have never have imagined it!
You might think you know quite a lot about China, but this massive country has plenty of secrets. If you’ve already been, you’ve probably visited the Forbidden City in Beijing, and the Bund in Shanghai. I bet you’ve seen the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, the lovely pandas in Chengdu, and the “Avatar Mountains” in Zhangjiajie…
If you have managed to see all these things, it seems like you might be half Chinese now- congratulations! But what if I told you there is way more to China than these popular tourist spots? The Great Wall of China is probably one of the most famous tourist spots in the world, but I’m sure you’ve not seen all yet!
The Great Wall: Tourist Destination
If you’re in Beijing, well of course you should go to the Great Wall, otherwise you’ll never be a brave man – 不到长城非好汉, as the Chinese proverb said.
For a first experience in China, Badaling 八达岭 and Mutianyu 慕田峪 are nice spots of the Wall, and are very well renovated- this therefore means they are the most visited parts of the Great wall, so don’t expect to be the only tourist there!
But if like me you’re not really into tourist traps, and crowded places, let me show you another piece of the Great Wall called HuangHuacheng 黄花城. This is the only lakeside piece of the Great Wall, and some parts of it are not renovated, which means there is the perfect balance of tranquility and adventure- you definitely should try it!
If you feel ready for a hike, I have another piece of the Great Wall for you! Zhuangdaokou is one of the unrestored sections of the Great wall in Beijing, and you should definitely visit here if you feel like an adventure. Don’t be scared if you see some signs which won’t allow you to climb there, they are most likely like the “no smoking” signs all over China … not really significant.
Did you know that the Great Wall isn’t the same everywhere in China? For example, in Inner Mongolia the Great wall is totally different, and it’s of course way harder to imagine how they could defend their country with this kind of wall, made of soil and sand. In every hostel in Hohhot you can book a tour to see those amazing landscapes, and since Inner Mongolia isn’t that far from Beijing, you definitely should go and take a look there!
Do you feel like exploring the Great Wall of China? Then you should apply now!
Why does it have to be Basketball?
Did you ever want to do some extraordinary stuff that feels a little bit like being a celebrity without being one? Or to see and go through cool and wonderful situations? Then China is the place to be! Today I am going to speak about one of these activities. We got free tickets for a basketball match between two University Teams. Actually a friend got them, and not only two, he got a lot, so we went there with a bunch of fellow students. I was really happy on one side getting the opportunity to see my first basketball match but on the other hand I would have preferred watching a football match instead. But basketball is much more popular in China.
Why? If you ask a Chinese person this question they also don’t know. Football is also popular in China, and most people know at least one name of a German player, although they will use the Chinese name for him so you might not understand who it is they mean. For example you will have a Chinese guy smiling at you and say. “my favourite players are Kelinsiman or Shiweiyinshitaige!” Ok, so these examples are quite easy, but you will sometimes have a hard time I guarantee it.
Before the Match
But back to business! As a Student of Qingdao University, I was cheering for the Qingdao Team. I cheered so much that I even forgot the name of the other university, but is that information needed? I mean, who wants to know about the loser anyway?
Everything was new for me; first of all they were playing the national anthem before the game. Which is quite strange for a German to see, as we don’t play national anthems that often on sports events. Actually the only occasion on which we would play the German national anthem would be a match between national teams. Then they had two stadium speakers that were giving information about the teams and the game. The were announcing every single player by name.
After the introduction another, for me, strange thing happened. A group of cheerleaders came and performed on the field. Which was strange, because in Germany this is quite a seldom thing to happen too. Actually, I only know about cheerleaders from American movies.
For me the idea of cheerleading is, using diplomatic terms now, quite a strange one. Why would you need a bunch of girls performing expressive dancing, to cheer up a crowd that came to see their team competing against another one anyway? And why are there no male cheerleaders? Or are there some at women’s sport events? And if so, what kind of clothes do they wear? Hot pants, with muscle shirts? What would they swing around?
During the Game
Anyway after the performance and a long time of people running around without any system visible, on and by the sides of the field the actual game begun. We had the best seats directly on the line of the field. The anticipation was killing me already, when the game started.
And I saw from what I can tell about basketball (which is not too much, because I never saw the need to gather knowledge about this game anyway) it was a good game. The players were dedicated and they really played with tactics. During half time, two of my fellow students had to perform a streetball game against two Chinese guys. In the end the Qingdao Team won with smashing 52:38 Points.
After all I was really happy with the whole experience and can strongly recommend this to everyone that gets the opportunity- go and get a grasp of Chinese basketball, with everything belonging to it, including the loud drums Chinese people seem to carry around with them like the vuvuzelas brought to a football match!
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.
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.
- 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
We’re looking forward to welcoming you to China soon!
In the two years between being an intern in Qingdao and being a Branch Manager here, plenty has changed. But the most striking change is probably the massive popularisation of digital wallets, the two most popular being Alipay (zhīfùbao 支付宝) and WeChat Pay (wēixìnzhīfù 微信支付). Digital wallets have yet to catch on to the same extent in the UK. Apple Pay is the most notable example, however it definitely does not have the same momentum as WeChat Pay does.
So How Does it Work?
Put simply, you link your Chinese bank card to your WeChat account. From there, you can either scan a shop’s QR code (China loves a QR code!) or the cashier can scan your own personal bar code. From there, you input the amount you have to pay, tap in your WeChat Pay password and, just like magic, your money is transferred immediately.
I am not exaggerating when I say that WeChat pay is everywhere! From taxi drivers, fruit stalls and tiny noodle shops to supermarkets and car dealers, everyone now uses either WeChat Pay or Alipay, or even both! I have only come across one taxi driver who refused to accept it.
It solves the age old problem of how to split the bill. In Chinese, this is called AA制 (AA zhì). Before digital wallets were a thing, it was a hassle having the right change and juggling between you and your friends to make sure everyone paid their fair share. Now, in a very Chinese fashion, you can send your friends a digital 红包 (hóng bāo red packet) to pay them back for dinner.
The only time I have found WeChat to be a pain was recently when my phone stopped working. On the first of every month, the packages of calls and data on Chinese phones refreshes. If you don’t have enough credit to refresh the package, your phone simply stops working until you top it up again. Becoming reliant on WeChat Pay was a nightmare in this situation, as I couldn’t connect to the internet to make any payments. To make matters worse, I only had 6RMB in my wallet! I couldn’t even get dinner, let alone buy a top up for my phone. I had to go home, connect to my home WiFi and top up my phone before I could access my WeChat Pay again.
So how does WeChat Pay affect the rest of China?
In just a few short years since their introduction into Chinese society, these digital wallets have become massively popular. According to a recent UN report, the value of payments made through WeChat pay has increased by a staggering eighty-five times, from RMB 0.1 trillion in 2012, to RMB 8.5 trillion in 2016. It is hardly surprising when WeChat is so integral to Chinese life. Most peoples’ social life online is conducted through WeChat, using the app to chat, organise events, find flatmates and even pay their taxes online!
A real upshot for the Chinese government as well is that the use of digital wallets has brought vast amounts of cash payments into easily recorded and traced digital transactions. This will potentially make it easier for tax authorities to keep track and collect taxes owed. In addition, it has the potential to bring more people into the economy. Those who are too far from banks, or are lacking the correct documentation to open a bank account where they live, can instead access the economy through their phone, taking advantage of China’s huge smartphone penetration.
The largest change on the street has been the near-extinction of cash. In restaurants, in cabs, in shops, I rarely see cash changing hands. Instead, people brandish smartphones and QR codes. It will be interesting to see how long this trend lasts.
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.
Over the highway from the extravagant Huafa Mall and new town’s glass palaces lie the backstreets of old Beishan district, where wooden doors creak and electrical cables drape between buildings like bunting. Hipster noodle bars, cafes and even a tattoo shop seemingly add modern charm to the oldest district in central Zhuhai. Beishan Hall, a cultural institution, stands monumentally affront the labyrinth of streets. Its decaying grey walls mark the transition from new to old, from westernized to gentrified traditional.
The hall’s courtyard is framed with red lanterns and bonsai trees, while the rooms hold lavish costumes, books and art. Over summer especially, the institution boasts a program of shows, concerts and even a yearly Jazz festival launched in 2010. Consequently, Beishan Hall has become somewhat of a cultural center, with music institutes and art centers set up nearby.
On a regular weekend, however, the hall’s art cafe is available to escape both the weather and reality. Along with good quality fresh coffee you can flip through the thick, grainy pages of their exquisite book collection to a soundtrack of calming Chinese music. Adorning the shelves are translations of classics such as Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ or Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’, if your level of Chinese doesn’t quite stretch that far, however, beautiful art books – and a peculiarly high number of photographs of Bob Dylan – are also available. Beishan Hall is therefor a perfect way to spend a slow Sunday morning.
Tamara completed a 6 month internship at InternChina Chengdu in Marketing and Business Development. Here she reflects on her experience:
6 months, 3 seasons, 16 weeks of Chinese classes, 2 big delegations, endless amazing moments, situations and laughter- my time in Chengdu passed by in what feels like the blink of an eye. Because I wrote my introduction blog in English and would like to reach as many people as possible with this, I decided to write my final blog in English instead of German as well.
The overall experience was nothing less than amazing and I can totally recommend it to anyone who just thought about coming to China for even one second!
Because of my internship at InternChina I was able to spent time with the most incredible people from all different parts of the world, see beautiful parts of China, fall in love with Sichuan food (it’s hard to imagine my life without a little 花椒 Huajiao here and there!), develop my professionalism, learn Chinese, build my own 关系 Guanxi, make amazing Chinese friends, grow as a person…I could continue this list forever.
Getting Used to Chinese Life and Business
Of course it wasn’t unicorns and cotton candy all the time. Committing to come to a country you’ve never been to before and you barely (if at all) speak the language is not easy. Getting used to the noise, the manners, the amount of people and the culture is not easy. There have been moments when I was desperately looking for some kind of normality, the kind of normality I was used to- the well-organized, structured German normality. But you get used to the Chinese way of doing things much faster than you think! Once you start to embrace the differences instead of comparing two completely different cultures, countries and societies with each other constantly, you will be rewarded with one of the most incredible experiences in your life!
I admit, it did take me a while to get used to the way business is conducted here and to understand how things work in China. The importance of relationships and networks cannot be compared to anything similar in Germany. For this reason in particular, I was astonished to see how smoothly I got accepted within some of these groups as a foreigner with barely any Chinese skills.
The People – Chinese and Foreign
The appreciation and genuine interest I experienced from the Chinese people I met here literally blew me away! I have never been in a country where it is so easy to get to know people and make new friends. As a foreigner in China, especially in the 2nd tier cities, you are always something special but it is you who decides if you want to be stay put in the 老外 Laowai category or become something more by surrounding yourself with locals. And it doesn’t really matter whether these people are friends of your friends, the internship supervisor of one of our companies or the sweet 老板 Laoban of the restaurant you like to go to for lunch. All these were people I met and either became friends with or at least attached to.
Chengdu – Why I Won’t Forget You
Looking back now, I would actually state that I stayed in China a little too long because I managed to adapt pretty well if I may say so myself. I made friends, rediscovered my passion of dancing, found the the hidden spots in the city, discovered the best restaurants and managed to show all these places to my fellow interns and friends. I never expected Chengdu to become the place that it is now for me, a place where amazing memories reside- the city definitely has a very found place in my heart.
I can say for 100% that I will always look back at this time with a smile on my face and refer to it as one of the most challenging, exciting but also rewarding experiences in my life. I am so grateful that I was given the chance to leave my comfort zone and get to know so many inspiring and amazing people.
Come to China!
So again- if you´re thinking of coming to China to get some work experience do it- you won’t regret it! Thank you Chengdu and IC-family for all the memories!
To start your own adventure in China, apply now!
When you hear the word ‘Mahjong’, there’s a good chance you might be thinking of that funny little game on your computer, where the objective is to make pairs out of a big pile of mis-matched tiles covered in Chinese characters, sticks and flowers.
Sadly, this version of Mahjong, or Májiàng (麻將) as it is written in pinyin, is pretty far-removed from the game played daily by tens of millions of Chinese, which is in fact a lot more like the card game Rummy. If you’re wanting to see how authentic Majiang is played by ordinary Chinese people, however, one of the best places to go is Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, where Majiang is not just a game, it’s a way of life. The mellow pace, relaxed atmosphere and relatively simple gameplay of Majiang perfectly epitomise the Sichuanese approach to life: “Take it easy” (Mànmanlái 慢慢来). It’s no surprise, therefore, that you need only go to one of Chengdu’s famous teahouses to see an entire garden full of people of all ages sat playing Majiang, sipping on cups of green tea and chatting away life’s many troubles.
So what are the rules of Majiang, and what does a Majiang set even look like for that matter?
A set is made up of three suits:
…and there is four of every tile, like this:
…which means that you have a total of 108 tiles, three suits of tiles numbered one to nine, and four of every tile. Hopefully you’re not getting too confused by all these numbers and symbols, but just in case, here’s a quick example:
Before you even touch the Majiang tiles, be sure first of all to find 3 good friends (plus yourself) and a chilled spot somewhere. Comfy chairs are also a good addition. This isn’t a game to play in the deadly silence of a library, but a subway station isn’t ideal either.
To begin playing, you must first shuffle the tiles face down on the table and each player then builds a wall 13 tiles long by two tiles high. Two players will have 14 tiles in their wall, but that’s normal. It should look something like this:
To get started, each player rolls a pair of dice, and the person with the highest roll becomes the ‘dealer’, and gets to start play. The dealer then rolls the dice again to decide from where to start ‘breaking the wall’ – i.e. dealing the tiles to each player. The total of this second roll of the dice determines which wall, as counted anti-clockwise starting with themselves. So, a total of 3 would be the wall opposite (1 – yourself, 2 – player to the right, 3 – player opposite). The lowest number of these two dice then tells you precisely where to start breaking the wall, counting in from the right. This can all sound a bit tricky, but once you’ve played a few times it will come very naturally.
The dealer then starts by taking a stack of four tiles from the starting wall, and then each player does the same in an anti-clockwise direction until everyone has 12 tiles in their hand. Then, the dealer takes two more tiles to make his hand total 14 tiles, and each other player takes one more tile, so that each of their hands total 13 tiles. The dealer then discards one tile and everyone has 13 tiles – let the game commence!
Once the dealer has discarded his first tile, the game continues in an anti-clockwise direction. Each turn consists of picking up a tile from the remaining wall, adding it to your hand and discarding another tile (or, the discarded tile can be the one just taken).
The purpose of the game is to keep a poker face throughout, and end up with a hand that contains four sets of three tiles and a pair. The sets of three can be three of a kind (3-3-3) or a run (3-4-5). It could look something like this:
Now, here’s where things get interesting…
There are two special moves you can make:
Peng 碰 (pèng) – If you have two-of-a-kind in your hand, and another player at ANY point in the game discards a matching tile that would enable you to complete your set of three, proudly shout “PENG!” and before anyone has a chance to react, reach over and add the tile to your hand. You must then turn over the completed set for everyone to see and leave it visible for the rest of the game. To finish your turn, you should discard one more tile (to bring you back down to 13) and continue play from the player to your right.
The second special move, Gang 杠 (gàng) is perhaps even more fiendish! If you have a three-of-a-kind in your hand, and another player at ANY point in the game discards a tile that would enable you to make it in to a complete set of four, take a deep breath and scream an almighty “GANG!” Grab the tile, add it to your hand and proudly turn over your four-of-a-kind for everyone to see. Take a tile from the wall and discard another.
It is important to note, it doesn’t matter where the vital fourth tile comes from, whether it’s a discarded tile or taken from the wall, making a set of four is always a gang and you must always turn it over and reveal it straight away. Even if the three-of-a-kind is already face-up on the table, you can convert it into a four-of-a-kind with the gang move.
When you pick up the final tile completing a winning hand, shout “HU LE!” (胡了hú le) and add the tile to your hand (or turn it over to complete a peng or gang). It’s not necessary to show all of your tiles at this point, as some of the sets may have been completed by taking tiles from the wall, and gameplay doesn’t even stop here! The rest of the players must “battle to the bloody end” (血战到底 xuè zhàn dào dǐ) until there is only one player left.
About now, some of you may be wondering, don’t people usually bet money on Majiang games? The answer is absolutely yes, but since almost every city, district and even household has its own system for scoring and gambling money, we’ll save that for another blog post.
Now you’re fully equipped and ready to go out into the streets of Sichuan and challenge your friends to a fiendishly fun game of Majiang – but be careful, if you find yourself locked in a battle to the death with some well-seasoned local players, you just might leave with a suspiciously light wallet…
To find out more about our opportunities to be an intern in Chengdu, click here.
My name is Ingo, I am a student from Germany majoring in Business Administration & Engineering. Since mid-February I have been working as an intern at a British company in Qingdao. The company provides solutions for environmental protection using their purge and pressurization units to prevent dust, corrosives and other non-hazardous gases from contaminating electrical equipment installed in enclosures close to process applications. My task is to elaborate new functions in the enterprise resource planning system, elaborate and installing a shop-floor information system and support the factory supervisor. I am well integrated in the team and I am glad to have the chance to do an internship in Qingdao and in this company.
For the duration of my stay in China I am living at a homestay family. It is a small Chinese family with a little child. The home of the family is in Shuan Shan area near a big mall and well connected to public transport. The latter is very important for me due to my daily commute to work. I get breakfast and dinner at the family. The breakfast is most of the time a Chinese kind of porridge, boiled eggs and fried bread. For dinner, I am mostly at the parents of my guest mother. There I get all varieties of Chinese food – her father is an excellent cook. Occasionally, my homestay family invites me to meet their friends or to go on a trip. Also, my guest family speaks very good English – to the detriment that my Chinese knowledge is still stagnating on a low level.
Qingdao is regarded as a holiday paradise. The city is located directly by the sea and has several beaches. Near the city, the Lao Shan Mountain is located, from which– depending on weather – a wide view over the whole region is possible.
I do not regret my decision to do an internship in China and I am looking forward to my four remaining months in Qingdao!
For me, graduating from university felt a bit like being forced to get out of bed on a chilly winter’s morning: alone, shivering and anxious to get back under the covers. Then again, making the jump from my warm, cosy life as a student to the seemingly cold, icy world of work, paycheques and overtime was never going to be an easy one.
To make that transition a bit more comfortable, after graduating from Edinburgh University in May 2016, I decided to wrap myself in my proverbial pillow and blankets and head across to the sunny isle of Taiwan, to hide from the cold a little while longer. During my 6-month stay studying at Cheng Kung University in Tainan, I wrestled with the infamously mind-boggling yet beautiful traditional Chinese characters, cycled along the remote and rugged Eastern coastline, and tasted the dazzling array of street food as I wandered the night markets of Taipei.
From Cheng-Kung to Chengdu
As my half-year stay drew to a close, I decided it was high time I set myself a real challenge. I had been studying Chinese for four and a half years, and it was time to put it to the test in the workplace. For me, Sichuan and the West of China has always had a certain allure – who could resist the chance to see the far-flung reaches of the Tibetan plateau, to conquer the notoriously numbing Sichuanese peppercorn, or peer in at the leafy home of the Giant Panda? With this in mind, I set my sights for the great Western capital of Chengdu.
To cut a long story short, I scoured the web for opportunities to do a 4-month internship in Chengdu, and no more than 6 weeks later – here I am! I haven’t been in the office very long, but already I feel like I’ve been thoroughly immersed into the local culture and cuisine. In just the few days since I arrived, I’ve been on a trip to Huanglongxi (黄龙溪), an ancient town full of original Qing dynasty architecture, eaten Chongqing Flat Noodles (碗杂面wánzámiàn) and enjoyed a suitably spicy Sichuanese hotpot!
Perhaps more worth noting, however, is how well I have been welcomed into the InternChina family – the friendly and relaxed office atmosphere, communal lunches everyday and general level of support have made my first few days go without a hitch. Even though leaving the comfort and safety of student life and entering the workplace might have felt like a cold winter’s morning to begin with, I’m already starting to feel the warmth come back to my toes…or maybe that’s just the hotpot.
If you want to be part of the IC story, apply now!