“Why Chengdu?” is the question most people will ask when you mention you’re interning in China. Hardly the first city that comes to mind, most would wonder why you aren’t in Shanghai and Beijing, China’s press darlings that receive most international attention.
As China continues to grow at a blistering pace in its 4thdecade of consistent economic growth, the Chinese urban landscape has begun to change. While Beijing and Shanghai once represented the nexus of business and economic development for the country, opportunities have begun to spread beyond the East coast corridor further inland, resulting in a role reversal between the periphery of Western China and the once dominant metropoles of Shanghai/Beijing. Chengdu now is one of China’s fastest growing cities and is the center of the government’s push to branch development beyond the coast.
Destined to become both the Motor City and Silicon Valley of China, Chengdu’s growth trajectory over the past decade has been beyond phenomenal. With over 14 million people (projected to be around 20 million by 2020), Chengdu currently is China’s 4th largest city. Conveniently located in between Western China and Eastern China, the city is now home to a mix of manufacturing, IT, and finance while simultaneously acting as the primary hub for businesses trying to expand westward to gain further access to China’s untapped markets. Chengdu is now home to over three hundred of the Fortune 500 companies, ranging from automobile giants in Toyota and Volkswagen to global manufacturers in GE and Foxconn Technology Group. While the average growth rate for China as a whole has roughly been between 7-10%, Chengdu’s GDP has expanded by 15% on an annual basis in recent times, making it one of the most exciting cities in the country labelled as the new “land of opportunity”. With seemingly limitless business prospects, the question has become why aren’t you in Chengdu!
欢迎光临青岛 – Welcome to Qingdao!
When I told my friends and family in Germany about going to China, their reactions were pretty much all the same: “OMG, why do you want to go there?”. Just a few were actually interested in why I was coming and what I expect from the trip to China. I really want to experience as much as possible to show my friends that it is a great and very diverse country!
My interest for China started at University. At Uni, it is necessary to receive some credits that do not have anything to do with your basic studies, to give you an opportunity to improve your skills in other fields. In my first semester I started taking Chinese out of curiosity and the fact that it gives twice as many points as all the other languages. It was just fun going every week, learning some words which sounded completely new to everything you’ve heard before. I mean have you ever heard someone speaking Chinese? It’s just crazy to listen to!
I finished University in April 2013, majoring in English, French and Economics. Luckily my Masters does not start until October, therefore I had the chance to fill that time with whatever I wanted. I love traveling and getting to know new cultures. In 2006, I spent my first year abroad as a High School student in the United States. This experience opened up the world to me. I met people from all over the globe which gave me an inside view to how diverse and especially how interesting other cultures can be. Once gone abroad you will never settle again. I pretty much counted the days until my next journey. After my school graduation I spent two months in a French host family as an Au-Pair. Sadly in two months you do not really have the possibility to experience a country as much as I thought. During my studies I had the chance to go back to France, so I spent another two semesters abroad.
So there I was in December, pretty much done with my studies and with the urge to go traveling again. I wanted to see something completely different! Something I haven’t experienced before… I thought “hey, you took some Chinese already, you should go to China”. No sooner said than done. I found advertisements for Intern China online and applied for an internship. Luckily they accepted me and now I’m here. Small town girl in an eight-million-inhabitant city! I’ve been here for five days and I’m loving it. Of course I still don’t understand a lot, but the food is awesome, the people are very nice (of any nationality) and my welcome was just so friendly that I’m sure I’m going to have a great time in Qingdao!