Chinese people

Tag Archive
Before your stay, Cultural

Unusual things you might not know about China…

When you think about China a lot of different things will come to mind, but there are also some things you might never expect. Cultural differences are often bigger than expected, but we are here to give you a little bit of guidance so that you are not taken completely by suprise when you experience these situations.

The first strange thing I noticed in China was that people always share their weight in public, especially women!  In China it’s normal for people to talk about their weight and ask someone about her or his weight. And of course they answer very proud and are not embarrassed or angry about the question. So, if you get asked about your weight in China, dont worry… share away!

The second funny thing I’ve observed in China is that you can tell someone that he or she is fat. Usually in Western countries no one dares to say that someone is fat. Maybe only your doctor has the right to say that you have too much weight on, but he would probably just use the term “overweight” and not “fat”. So what is the reason for people in China to tell someone that they’re fat? Mainly because if you are considered ‘fat’, then it is a sign of wealth, health and general happiness in your life. For men it is a sign of strength and if you are fat then you may be called strong!
So, again, if a Chinese person calls you fat then please don’t take offense – it’s a compliment!

Another strange thing in China is that anyone can ask anyone how much money he or she makes. When you go out with Chinese people for a coffee and talk about your job for example, the question might pop up: “how much money do you make?”. For Westerners this question is not normal, in our countries it is not usual to talk about salary and if you talk about it, usually amounts are not mentioned. But in China it is a normal question and they are always willing to answer! Another topic that is usually discussed is rent. For example, when someone has to pay more rent for their apartment, the typical conclusion will be “you are so rich.” In contrast, the average Western person will feel very uncomfortable talking about money.

A final strange thing that I’ve noticed during my stay in China is that most guys carry their girlfriend’s/wife’s handbag when out in public together. Chinese men never have a problem carrying handbags; they are really happy and proud of it! In general it is not common in Western countries for a guy to carry his girlfriend’s handbag, except maybe if it’s too big or heavy. Another peculiarity of Chinese couples: they like to wear the same clothes as their partner as a sign of affection…

Do you want to make your own experience in China? Apply for an internship directly on our website or send us your application via email

Chinese Festivals

My first spring festival in Qingdao

I arrived in Qingdao with the spring festival at the same time. It is my first time in China and therefore it was my first spring festival here, and all I can say is that it was amazing!

The Chinese are going crazy during spring festival that means that there are fireworks days and nights. At the beginning I was really scared about it and I was alone in my big two floors apartment and all the fireworks outside were so loud that I couldn’t sleep and with each firework I was standing at my window and admired the beautiful fireworks outside. I live on the 7th floor therefore I had the best view by the way. In the next days I became accustomed to the fireworks and I was not that much scared anymore and was able to have some sleep luckily.

The fireworks here in China are not comparable with the fireworks which we know from Germany!! It’s completely different. The fireworks are totally huge and you can buy different kinds of fireworks on every corner: Mickey Mouse, SpongeBob, dolls and more and more funny and cool fireworks. The spring festival is China’s biggest festival in the whole year; therefore I am very happy that I had the chance to be here during Chinese spring festival and had the opportunity to see such a wonderful festival here in Qingdao. I didn’t know before that when I start my internship in February that such a big festival is waiting for me!!

InternChina also planned a firework for us interns, first we had great dinner at a chinese restaurant and afterwards we made our own firework! Everyone brought some fireworks and we had a great and cold firework night all together!

To be here at spring festival has also another big advantage, after one week working I had one week free due to the spring festival, which was perfect for me!! I took the opportunity and conquered Qingdao. I made a lot of sightseeing and checked out all shopping malls successfullyJ. And last but not least, when you are here during spring festival a lot of different and delicious fruits, coated with sugar are sold, you really have to try it out it’s so tasty!!

I can just recommend you to come here during spring festival and enjoy two awesome weeks!! I can promise that it will be an unforgettable and amazing experience for you!!

If you would like to make a wonderful experience in china, than apply now via email info@internchina.com or directly on our website!

by lisa 
Before your stay, Chengdu Business, China Business Blogs, How-to Guides, Job Market in China, Understanding Business in China

Cross-Cultural communication in China: West vs. East

Hello everyone,

My name is Jenny and I am the office manager of InternChina in Qingdao, soon I will go and open a 3rd office for InternChina in Chengdu. The first time I came to China was almost 4 years ago and since I was fascinated by the Culture and the people here, I decided to come back and actually work for InternChina in the future. China is fascinating me also because every day here is a new challenge! Even though, I am trying to improve my Chinese skills every day and a lot of Chinese people (incl. my colleagues) speak a very good English – I experience so many misunderstandings and situations in which I need to take a deep breath before I react, as people here are just communicating so differently.
This week we will start a series on our InternChina blog with a more Business-related focus. So, today’s blog will kick-off with giving you an idea of how different communication in China works compared to Western countries. In this article, I am focusing on general communication patterns in China, illustrating by using typical business situations.

When we talk about communication, we need to make clear, that it doesn’t only involve what we say but also how we say something. This can include body-language, gestures, mimics, volume and of course speed and intonation. Communication scientists, trainers and coaches like to refer to the iceberg-model, where the top of an iceberg (about 30%) is usually WHAT you say, whereas the underlying bottom which is hidden in the water (ca.70%) is HOW you say something, such as voice, mimic, gestures, the context in which you say it etc. This means, when you are transferring a message, most of your message is not transported by your actual words but by how you put your words.
Another model, which we should take a look at is the “Communication square” or “Four-Ears-model” (from a German scientist called Schulz von Thun), which implies that all verbal messages being sent, need a sender and a receiver. Each message hereby is sent on 4 different levels (free translation): 1. Formal Level (“The actual information”), 2. Self-revelation level (“what the sender is telling about himself”), 3. Relationship level (“What the sender thinks about the receiver, in which relation is the sender to the receiver”), 4. Plea level (“What the sender wants the receiver to do”). This model describes in an ideal case how communication works and can explain why misunderstandings in communication can occur. The idea is simple: If every message is sent on all levels, but some people weigh one level more than another, it can happen that the receiver is receiving a different message from the one which has been sent by the sender. Then we have misunderstandings and miscommunication. We can use this model to understand communication between man and women, but also to describe different ways of communication between different cultures.

Another approach to compare different cultures is the one from the scientist Edward T. Hall (“Beyond Culture”, 1976). He finds, that some cultures are communicating with a “high-context” and some cultures use a “low context” for their daily communication. Germany for example is a Low Context Culture – they say what they think and think what they say, messages are sent explicitly. They expect the same thing from their communication partner, so they avoid any misunderstandings through interpretation, maybe that’s why Germans are considered as so efficient (and unhumoristic) in the world. A typical example for a High-Context Culture is China: Messages are sent implicitly, there is space for interpretation, which can lead to even misinterpretations and misunderstandings. This is acceptable as long as two individuals or groups from one culture communicate with each other because they know what to expect – but it of course can lead to problems, as soon as two individuals or groups from two different Cultures communicate with each other.

If we apply these different models now to have a closer look on the Chinese culture, we will get some interesting findings. Even if you are not a scientist, these models can help to understand a little better, WHY certain things in China are done as they are done.

In a next step, I will try to describe three typical situations in a Chinese business. In all three situations Westerners are involved: as colleagues, interns, or business partners.

  1. I want to start with the typical case of a mid-aged Western manager who is about to freak out because he told his Chinese team already the 100th time, that deadlines are important. His Chinese colleagues will say “Yes Yes, no problem” and next time not meet the deadline another time.
    What happened? If we use the Iceberg-model to explain what happened, we could say, that it was less important WHAT the manager said but actually more important IN WHICH CONTEXT he said it. He didn’t speak to Westerners, for which it is clear what a deadline means. He spoke to Chinese colleagues. If you take the Communication Square to explain the situation, you will find that Germans (and other Westerners) send their messages mostly on the first level (“formal information”) and 4th level (“peal”), whereas Chinese receivers hear much more on the 2nd and 3rd level. So, for them, the deadline itself is not important – it is much more important of who told them that there is a deadline and why the sender wants them to hold the deadline. This is how the misunderstanding occurs: As Chinese are much more focused on relationships (so-called “guanxi”), a manager with a close relationship to his employees (meaning they actually accept him as an authoritative figure in a paternalistic understanding) will much more likely get a feedback on the status of the project and eventually has a chance to intervene when deadlines can’t be met. A manager with a good understanding of Chinese communication also will never shout at his colleagues because this means that not only he will lose face, but also will make his colleagues losing face as they have to watch him showing negative emotions and losing control about himself. The respect for him will be gone most likely and they won’t make any effort to change their behavior.
    Possible solution
    :Most of Westerners believe in fixed deadlines, so when we fix a date with our clients and pass it on to our colleagues, we believe they will first of all try to meet the deadline and secondly if they can’t make it, tell us what the problem is (right in time!) to find a solution. This might apply in Western countries with Low-context cultures, where we as receivers expect the sender to send us a clear message explicitly, non-negotiable. However, in China as a High-context culture a message is sent implicitly and a receiver would always expect “more” behind a message. Therefore, a deadline is not necessarily a deadline and everyone knows, there’s a silent consent about this idea, so no need to cry over spilt milk and invest more time in building up a trust relationship between you and your colleagues.
  2. A second very typical situation is a Western intern (let’s say a German), who is doing an internship in a Chinese company. He was told to be patient with the tasks, they will be given to him probably a little bit later, first he should get to know his colleagues better, then it is easier to assign tasks to him. After one week only sitting around, he will start checking Facebook and newspaper websites regularly during work-time. After two weeks, he will start leaving the company about one hour earlier and complain to his friends he has nothing to do, even though his colleagues seem to be nice in a way.
    What happened?
    The German intern expects a working–environment in which orders are coming up explicitly and very formal. Messages are usually sent in the first level, receivers will get the message on the first level, there is no space for interpretation (“Communication square” and “High-context vs. Low Context culture”). Additionally, communication about private topics at the working-place is not very popular in Germany, even in other Western countries you try to keep private communication to a lower extent than in China. But in China communication works differently.
    Possible solution: Before formal tasks can be assigned, it is helpful to get to know your team, drink a tea together, get familiar with your colleagues, get to know them – really get to know them – make guanxi! Talk with them about their families, food, their dreams and hopes, share your free-time with them, accept dinner invitations, speak as much Chinese as possible… etc. And your question as an intern to your colleagues “Can I help you?” will be received as a friend, not only as the “strange Western intern”, that nobody knows. It is much more likely you’re your colleagues actually really make an effort of assigning more tasks to you, if they know who you are and how you actually can help them as an intern – what are your skills, what are your interests? Not WHAT you say, but HOW and as WHOM you say it, is significantly important in China.
  3. The third situation describes the typical Business dinner with a Chinese company and the Western buyer, who actually just wants to talk about “business” during a “business-dinner”. After a while, the Chinese side just thinks: “Phew, why is he so not relaxed and just wants to talk about serious things, we just started our dinner…!” and the Western client after 2 hours of drinking and small talk will think: “Phew, when can I get out of here to sober up a little bit – and why we still didn’t have the chance to get any commitment from the Chinese side about our deal?”.
    What happened?
    Chinese people are traditionally skilled at Trading. Buying and selling –for the best price of course, is their mission. Business? Is a game! If you don’t understand their rules, you lose. It helps if you understand a little bit about Chinese communication to be more successful in China.
    Possible solution: The rules are simple, you “just” need to play them; drinking and small-talk during business dinners. Compliments are not to be taken serious, Chinese people will always try to flatter you, it makes you vulnerable. It is part of the game, so don’t be surprised if they don’t MEAN what they say. In China, everything can be interpreted. Thus, emphasizing something’s beauty vehemently, also can mean the complete opposite. If you explain this with the Iceberg model, you can see again, that it doesn’t matter WHAT you say, but HOW you say it and in which context. If a Chinese business partner says, he can imagine to work with you, it doesn’t mean that you need to take your laptop out and talk about business the next half hour. It could mean, he is thinking about working with you on another deal or it could mean not to work with you at all because later you fail the drinking contest or you say something that could make him think that you are mistrusting him. It always depends on the context he is saying it in.
    Interestingly, there’s no “NO” in China, but a lot of ways of saying something, that means “No”. If you analyze this situation with the High-context-Low-context model, you will find that in such moments as business dinners, you will need to take someone with you who is not only a translator but actually can explain you the RULES of the game, otherwise it is more likely that you won’t be successful.
    Or you start learning about these rules yourself.

This is easily done! Just send us your application to info@internchina.com and we can help you finding an internship in China where you will have the chance to get to know Chinese Business Culture through a first-hand experience!

Travel

My trip in Xinjiang (Sinkiang)

I went to Xinjiang for traveling from september 18th till October 13 th. I was planing to go Xingjiang since long time ago, after my traveling, I can tell Xinjiang is really an awesome place! Beautiful natural scenery, nice people and great foods, gave me one of the best traveling experience.
If you never been to Xinjiang, you will never know how big China is! I took train to Urumchi from Guangzhou, It was taken me 55 hours , 3 nights and 2 days, But not so bad, I got second class ticket, that mean I could sleep during the long trip.

Before my traveling, I posted some informations on a website to find some people to travel together, finally, the had 15 people join my team, they are from all over China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Dongguan… I think the best way for traveling in Xinjiang is rent a car or bus yourself with friends or follow tourist company, because Xinjiang is too big, we tried drove over 10 hours still in the gobi desert highway, but on the way, always good views, we even saw Przewalski horse(a kind of wild horse), wild donkey, wild goat….

For my long trip, the have too many stories, now I am just show you guys some pictures were taken by myself, I will write some details later if you were interested in it,haha 😉

Internship Experience

My Summer Internship So Far…

Hello, I am Calum a summer intern in the InternChina Zhuhai office. I am here for two months before I go back to University to complete my degree. I have been in China for less than three weeks and already have so many stories to tell. I was introduced to the nightlife in Zhuhai very early and have been pleasantly surprised with how much fun KTV is. I came to China unable to speak any Chinese so have attended a language exchange every week to learn from locals and try and make conversation on a daily basis easier.
I have been introduced quickly to InternChina traditions such as going for a beer on the roof every Friday night and weekly events and trips to dinner. I have also been welcomed into sporting activities such as a game of football against Chinese locals every Sunday and squash on a Monday night.

My job role involves helping set up events, marketing and going on business meetings to see potential partner companies for InternChina. Recently,  I have also been to interview other interns to see how they are getting on within their company.

This week I went to an arranged visit to a beautiful place called Guilin where we went on boat and bamboo-rafting rides, had water gun battles, visited the beautiful  Yinzi cave and got to check out the nightlife which is fair to say didn’t disappoint.

From what I have experienced so far I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship and time in China and look forward to what’s in store during the next few months  🙂

InternChina – Zhuhai

Before your stay, Cultural, Homestay Experience, How-to Guides, Summer School

Cultural differences in Chinese host-families

Living with a Chinese host family is not only a unique chance to explore Chinese culture, it also gives you the chance to find new friends and practice Chinese with native speakers. At the end of the day, it is in your hands how far you want to adapt to the Chinese lifestyle!

Today I would like to explore eight good reasons (“8” is the lucky number in China) for choosing a homestay. Nevertheless, I want to be realistic at the same time and discuss a variety of points which should be considered as well before making a decision.

8 Reasons Why

1. Making friends by being part of a Chinese family
2. Practicing Chinese language skills
3. Experiencing daily life in China
4. Learning more about my own culture
5. Understanding Chinese people makes you more confident in business contexts
6. Amazing Chinese food
7. Cheaper lifestyle
8. Help you to adapt to daily life and get shown around the city

1. Making life-long friends

In China traditionally family life is of high importance for Chinese people. In former times it was the ideology of Confucianism which laid out the rules for a harmonious family life. Nowadays it is the One-Child-policy which turns a kid into the center of the family’s attention. A harmonious family life and a good relationship between husband and wife are still important values for Chinese families. Consequently, you will be integrated in daily life not only as a guest, but as a real family member; a daughter, a son, a brother or a sister!

This is the unique chance to explore Chinese everyday life in as much detail as possible, make new friends and gain a second family in China! Sometimes participants even get taken away on weekend trips to mountains or even to other cities as part of the family. If the family has a kid, then the parents will probably ask you to help the kid with homework when possible.

Chinese people in general are really friendly and very curious about foreign cultures. So, they will always try to live a harmonious life with you and integrate you the best they can.

2. Practicing Chinese

If you have come to China to learn and improve your Chinese skills, you might soon realize that the Chinese you learn in the classroom differs from the vocab that you would use in daily life in China.

Living with a Chinese family can help you with improving your Chinese skills. Even if you don’t speak any Chinese before your arrival, you will have the chance to learn some “survival” Chinese during your homestay. Every family who takes part in an “InternChina” homestay programme will have at least one family member who speaks English. Chinese people love teaching their mother tongue and won’t miss a chance to help you improve your language skills.

3. Experiencing daily life in China

Where better than in a family to immerse yourself in the local culture? Our unique homestay programme enables you to experience the life of Chinese people. Some families might take you out to dinners, some cook at home every day. Others might take you to Buddhist temples or Catholic church services. You will take part in big family dinners or get to know about Chinese weddings. Most likely you will sooner or later end up in a Chinese KTV (Karaoke) or in a foot massage place. You will see how much time Chinese invest in working, how much they enjoy shopping or how they motivate their children to study hard in order to do the best in school.

4. Learning more about yourself and your culture

However, you might realize during your stay that the Chinese culture is totally different from what you are used to live in the West. When asked about the most important thing students learned from their InternChina homestay programme, the most common answer is “patience”. Among others, patience is one character trait that we as Westerners usually lack. If there is one best place to learn it, it is a Chinese family.

You will realize that life in the West is not “better” or “more developed”, it is just different from China. On the other hand, you might be surprised that many things actually seem to be the same as back home. Either way, improving your awareness of the differences between Chinese and Western culture you will have the chance to learn a lot about intercultural communication and about yourself.

5. Understanding the culture and being more confident in business situations

If you are also taking part in our internship programme, you might be interested to see how Chinese people behave in business contexts. How do they negotiate? Which is the best way to approach a proposal? Is it really more difficult in China to address problems directly – as we might do in Western countries? How easy is it to make friends with your colleagues? By staying with a host family, you’ll learn more about how to interact in an appropriate way.

You might find the difference, that Chinese people are not always so indirect as we expect them to be – especially not when they consider you as a family member. However, it would be better to be careful about relating the behavior of Chinese people in private context to behavior in business related contexts. When Chinese are with family they are much more relaxed and informal; and address certain topics much more directly as they would ever do it at work.

Nevertheless, by knowing that Chinese people can act more informal than they would do when they meet you as a business partner or colleague, is already pretty helpful to act more confident in a business related context.

6. Enjoying tasty Chinese food

Before coming to China, you might already have tried “egg fried rice” or “sweet ‘n’ sour chicken” from the “Chinese restaurant” around the corner. As you may know already, this is only a small corner of what Chinese cuisine has to offer.

When you take part in the Homestay you will have the chance to try delicious local dishes like “gala” (clams with Chili, ginger & garlic) or “jiaozi” (dumplings with pork & cabbage). Most likely, your host-family will introduce you to the secrets of home-made Chinese food, which is usually very healthy and nutritious. Nowadays a lot of families are busy with work, not all of them cook every day. So it might be that they will take you out to restaurants from time to time, depending on their financial situation.

To sum up, no matter where you will try the Chinese food, be aware that you will need to eat a lot. 🙂

7. Living a cheaper lifestyle

Living with a family often means fewer temptations to blow your budget! In the end, students who try to adapt to the family’s rhythm and take part in family activities will enjoy their time much more too. At the same time, it is only fun if you are ready to embrace the challenge to share your life with them.

8. Helping you with daily life in China

Finally, when you first arrive in China, the number of people, all the cars, the shops and the size of places can be overwhelming. If you don’t speak any Chinese it might be difficult for you in the beginning to get around independently.

A Chinese family can be really helpful in assisting you with your daily life in China. Things like buying train tickets or getting to know the local tourist spots. Some host families might take you to hidden underground shopping malls, others might prefer to introduce you to their family in the countryside.

Whichever part of China you get to know this way, it will be exciting and different experience!

To sum up, there are lots of good reasons to live in a host family. Have they convinced you to take part in one for your China programme? Before committing, it is always a good thing to ask yourself whether you feel ready for the challenge. If the answer is “yes” and you want to start your unique adventure, then let us know!

Hope to see in China soon!

Zhuhai Blogs

Arrival in Zhuhai

Hello everyone!My name is Dimitrij and I just arrived on Saturday night in Zhuhai.
I am 22 years old and I am from Frankfurt/Germany.
What am I here for? Because I am a student of International Business Administration in Wiesbaden/Germany, I am obliged to make an internship in a foreign country for four months.
I was always fascinated by China, simply because China is unique and so different from Europa. Last year I have been to China for one month, in Beijing and Shanghai, and I decided to come over to China as soon as possible!
So, after I started a research to find an internship, I found the homepage of INTERNCHINA, which was quite interesting. I just applied for an internship here and was lucky to get a very interesting offer consisting of an internship directly at INTERNCHINA (two months in the Zhuhai office and 7 weeks in the Qingdao office), two months Chinese classes in Zhuhai and a HOMESTAY at two different guest families in both cities. This was the perfect combination for me and I decided to do it! I am sure it will be a big adventure!
So here is shortly my first impression of Zhuhai. Leo, the customer relations manager, picked me up from the port and we drove to the apartment, which is next to the office, where I will stay some days, until my guest family is ready to host me. The next day, Sunday the 14 of August, I met Jamie, the general manager, at the beach, where we had a lot of fun. Together with Jamie’s girlfriend Helen, Leo and two other Chinese friends we played Frisbee and pool, chilled at the beach and went to the swimming pool next to the beach. Although they did not recommend me to swim in the ocean, I did it and enjoyed it a lot!
The beach is very cool because you have a nice view on some islands in the ocean (see picture!) and you have a few shops, cafes and cocktail bars along the beach.
Later on we went to a restaurant and had hot pot all together (see picture!). It was very delicious and not very expensive. Yeah, it was really a cool first day in Zhuhai!!
Yesterday was my first day in the office at Intern China. Jamie gave me a good introduction on the activities of INTERNCHINA and the tasks I will work on during my placement. After having lunch together, I went to the school and passed a short test which should show the teacher how ‘good’ my Chinese is. 🙂 At least, I understood something… -.-
But I am optimistic, I am sure I will improve my Chinese during my whole Placement.
So, that’s it for today, see you guys!

Cultural, Qingdao Blogs, Things To Do in Qingdao

Gōng fū shī fu (Kung-Fu master and TV-tower)

Today my hostmother took me to the TV-tower in Qingdao.She told me, that you can have a great overwiev of the city from there… (if its not cloudy or foggy 😉
But I´m afraid it was ^^
Anyway it was very beautiful up there.

InternChina-The-TV-Tower-in-Qingdao
InternChina- The TV Tower in Qingdao

 

InternChina-The-lake-in-Qingdao's-park
InternChina- The lake in Qingdao’s park
InternChina-Forest-park-in-Qingdao
InternChina- Forest park in Qingdao
InternChina-View-from-the-steps-in-Qingdao-park
InternChina- View from the steps in Qingdao park

After that we went through a park were usually chinese people practise their Tai Chi or Qi Gong daily in the morning.
Accidentally we met a 60 years old chinese  man, who was practising Kung-Fu.
He was very kind ans allowed us to take a video of this art.
Afterwards we talked to each other and he told us, that he is practising every day Kung-Fu since 30 years. Wow, respect for that.
After all he offered me to teach me Kung-Fu for free the time I am going to stay in China…
I was just lost for words.
Of course I will take this oportunity to collect some more authentical impressions of this great culture.
Here is a screenshots of my videotape:

InternChina-Man-practicing-Kung-Fu-in-Qingdao
InternChina- Man practicing Kung Fu in Qingdao