Being in China for almost 2 months now, I have noticed how the elderly are integrated in all aspects of life and how remarkably fit most of them are – even in their twilight years. This is what drove me to do a little more research about it, and finally, to write this blog.
With 144 million people over 60 (which is more or less 10% of the population), the elderly population in China grows at a much faster rate than that of most other countries. Consequently, retired people can be found in all sorts of public spaces
Coming back to the fitness, every morning outside my apartment I spot the Chinese doing impressive stretching moves, performing Taiqi which is known to improve the way energy flows and circulates around the body, and using the free, public sports equipment installed in the outside area of the complex.
But that’s not it for the day. With dawn starts exercise session No.2. In Zhuhai you can watch the elderly swinging their hips to slow, rhythmic and traditional music in front of sights like the Yuang Ming Palace or at Jida Beach.
A great example here is also this 70 year old women from Chengdu called Dai Dali who pulls of amazing pole-dance moves. Respect!
Being close to the gambling metropolis of Macau, the Chinese here also seem to love spending their evening playing card and dice games. This is either done in private circles close to/ outside their homes or in restaurants – the noise of such activity is quite distinct!
What I find another very interesting phenomenon is that grandparents are the default babysitters for their young, professional offspring and thus become the primary caretakers of children in China. This seems to be the easiest solution for young parents as they can still enjoy their lives and at the same time don’t have to commit their kids to strangers or pay a lot for childcare.
Three generations living under one roof is therefore rather common, and it’s quite normal to hear kids talking about how they grow up with their grandparents. All in all, the elderly still play vital roles in a common household and are valued as an integral member of the family.
Traditionally, elderly people in China were held in high regard and they used to enjoy almost absolute power over their children. With cultural concepts like “孝顺” – roughly translates into: respect and obey your elders – and “百善孝为先“ – of all the good virtues, respecting your elders is the most important one – the Chinese society established ethical codes about what behaviour is acceptable.
One of those codes implies that children ‘shall not disobey’ and another that they ‘shall not travel far’. Adult children are expected to live with their parents to take care of them – failure to do so would mean a major loss of face for any family. This responsibility, and the ties it creates, is very well reflected in the massive family gatherings seen during the Spring Festival, also called the Chinese New Year and National Day holidays.
While this solidarity between the generations may seem eternal, the ‘one-child’ policy is changing the social attitudes of China rapidly. The children nowadays seem to have little respect or time for tradition and prefer to focus on improving their own standing instead.
As a result of that, and also due to a more and more westernized Chinese society, the concept of grown-up children living in their own apartments starts to be widely acknowledged
To wrap this blog up I’d like to share a quote by Confucius:
“Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as spectator.”
Here I’d like to point that China is a vast country with distinctive cultures and that this blog partially reflects my own experience and observation in the area around Zhuhai.
If you want to compare how the lifestyles within China vary and what the most interesting differences between our destinations are, click here
Everything is arranged: You know which company you will do your internship with, you might have booked your flights already but not sure yet where to live?
Today, I would like to give you some advice on your choice of accommodation when you stay in China. From my experience dealing with hundreds of students and interns every year and living in different cities in China, I am in a good position to give you a hand when it comes down to making a decision on your accommodation in China.
First of all, I would like to recommend you to put financial questions aside when it comes to your choice and really listen to your heart and find out what you want to get out of your stay in China. If you are interested in getting to know the Chinese Culture, picking up on or improving your Chinese, trying authentic Chinese food and getting in touch with locals, a homestay with a Chinese family should be the first option for you. As Chinese people are very family- and relationship oriented, they will not only accept you as a guest in their house but actually integrate you in their daily family–life which is great because it will help you settling down quickly. I personally can recommend you to stay with a Chinese family from my own experience that I had when I came to China the first time. On the other hand, if your focus in China is more in doing an internship and doing a lot of networking in the evenings, an apartment seems to be the better option as it allows you more independence and privacy.
Secondly, aside from your expectations about what you want to get out of your stay in China, you are still a student and you want to get the best value for money from our programme. A homestay will help you pick up some Chinese if it is your first contact with Chinese language or it will help you to apply and enhance your Chinese skills that you have learned before. Either way, it will always look good if you had contact with locals in a non-business-context during your stay in China. A homestay in China will be first and foremost a unique and once-in-a -lifetime-experience. You can even add it to your CV to emphasize your ability to adapt quickly to a new environment, independency, intercultural and communication skills. So, when it comes down to your financial situation and you cannot afford taking language classes but want to improve on your Chinese, it is always the best solution to choose homestay as an option of accommodation.
Thirdly, I hear a lot of people who want to arrange their own accommodation because they are here on a budget as they are still students. I can understand that arranging an apartment yourself sounds tempting if you speak fluent Chinese. However, you are also missing out on a lot of great experiences if you stay in your own place, where you might end up really far from your host-company or paying a lot more money than through our programme because you will get charged an agents-fee, pay utility bills and internet extra and have trouble negotiating with the landlord when something is broken in the apartment. But wasn’t your initial plan to come to China to achieve something and to meet great people? Well, then don’t waste your time with arranging your own accommodation! InternChina is providing this allround-service to you through our friendly, local, English speaking Chinese staff. We are experienced to help you with whatever you need to make your stay in China pleasant and a great experience. We will be there when you lost your key for the apartment or the toilet is broken, we provide bedsheets and cooking utensils for you.
So, you can focus on the things that really matter when you are in China from your first day after your arrival: your internship and your guanxi!
This time when I came to China I had to think about some presents for my host family. I knew that colour, the way of presenting, and the gift itself can have a special meaning so I was very afraid to choose the wrong one. So here I have some ideas and advice for you.
Red, pink and yellow mean happiness in Chinese. You should use colorful wrapping paper and avoid the black and white ones because white, for example, means death. Chinese people love kitsch so try to make it as outstanding as possible for a good friendship.
Different present, different meaning
Try to find something local from your hometown, Chinese people love western stuff, like alcohol, candy or give-away goods. Pens and gift-sets (like salt and pepper) are very welcomed too. Interestingly, you should never give your host family a clock as this is associated with death. A cup is also a bad omen – its pronunciation in Chinese closely resembles the pronunciation for the word ‘tragedy’.
Also take care with the number of presents you give. Avoid giving four presents in total, as four is an unlucky number in Chinese. Words which included the syllable sì (four) are associated with death or misfortune. Eight, on the other hand, is a talisman and is, for example, highly desired in a mobile number, as you would always have fortune and luck on the go.
Don´t feel uncomfortable or misunderstand the situation when your family won´t unpack your gift after you hand it over, it’s Chinese manners. And if you have chosen the right gift they will love it J
In the end, remember that your host family knows that you are a foreigner, and maybe not as accustomed to Chinese traditions, and they will not blame you for giving them the wrong present.
So, don’t be shy, they will like you either way.
So you are thinking of doing an internship abroad.
Perhaps you’ve already made up your mind that you want to come to China. You have just discovered our website through one of our partner universities or on the web, have browsed around for a bit and found the most important pages: Internships, Studying Chinese, Accommodation, References and now this great, juicy-looking page: the Intern China Blog. So much interesting information, and so varied (don’t forget to check out our most recent posts on all the different topics!). But still you might think:
“I have questions… and it’s China – far away, different language, different customs – I’m not sure who I could talk to about this or if anyone can really help me…”
If this is the case, here’s what you can do:
2. Write to our enquiries email, which will automatically forward your email to the Manager of the city you are interested in. If you are still unsure about the city, then don’t worry: any of my colleagues and I, can help. So email me!
3. Browse through our site or FAQ list. Here are few questions that come up quite often (I will try to answer each one as best I can):
a. Will there be other foreigners in Zhuhai/Qingdao/Chengdu?
YES. InternChina is a growing company so there are interns all year round in our cities. They are doing internships, language classes or just enjoying the cultural exchange experience of living with a Chinese family. Some have finished their internships and decided to stay on longer as they’ve had such a good time. We even have a few who have been given full-time jobs at the end of their internship!
InternChina organises meals, events, trips and other activities which enable you to meet lots of new people and create strong friendships. Additionally, we are located in three economic hubs in China, so there are also many western companies whose employees live here full-time. This means that during your internship you might work with some foreigners or even meet a few when you go out for a meal or to the bar streets.
b. Will I be able to discover the culture and people whilst having a busy internship schedule?
YES. Zhuhai, Qingdao and Chengdu are three very different cities yet very similar in the sense that they are big enough to attract foreign companies and heavy government investment, but also small enough that you will need to learn the culture and some language to move around. It’s very different from Beijing or Shanghai – where foreigners tend to group together, speak English and in general only go to places targeted at expats.
Remember you are coming to China to discover the culture, the people, the places, the business world, the food, the crazy firework parties…. and this can only be done by being in China and living the Chinese way of life. The locals won’t invite you out, to dinners or special events if they do not get to know you! So get out there, take a foreign friend with you as support and go practice the language and communicate! This is the best way to improve your Chinese and Guanxi.
c. Will InternChina be available to help me out when I am actually in China?
On your arrival in China you will come to our office where we will give you an introduction to your city using the awesome Welcome Package and answer any questions you might have. The main reason for this is so that you get to know us, where our office is located and how to get to there. So, if there is an issue and you need our assistance with anything, you’ll know exactly where you can find us, and we can also come find you quickly. Fortunately we are all very experienced and issues get solved simply and efficiently by our foreign and Chinese staff, so most visits usually tend to be of a tea-and-cake nature.
Remember, InternChina does not only provide you with an internship and accommodation, but also with:
– Social support
– Regular dinners, events and trips
– Cultural discovery
– Advice, assistance and help regarding all facets of your life in China
Excited about the prospect of working and living in China? Apply now for an internship!
I went to a host family with Study China Programme participant Anna last night, and had dinner with the family, our intern Pierre came to this family almost 2 months, every time I called the host family, they always told me what interesting things they did and how happy they are. I think this is the most interesting thing from my job. I feel really very happy.
Before the Study China Programme participants came, I felt so nervous. Since february, I started to visit families, then select families for students. Most of the families are first time host students, I always scare they could not get along very well. But now when I see the 16 families and 16 students are both so happy for their unique experiences. I feel everything is worth!
Here are some pictures, they also invited some friends and relative to their home yesterday, we made dumplings and had dinner together. Because the husband of this family Mr Li is tea lover, so we drunk some tea together after dinner.