If it’s your first time in China and you don’t know what to expect, here’s some useful information to help you familiarise yourself with China and ease yourself into the culture shock!
Chinese food in China is not the usual sweet and sour chicken, chow mein etc that you would normally get back in the UK from your local takeaway. This stuff has been modified to suit the Western palette and does not represent Chinese cuisine as a whole. It is possible to have very authentic Chinese food in many restaurants in the UK (as Jamie our GM told us in his blog here), you just have to be open to trying new restaurants! There’s a large variety of different types and styles of Chinese food across China. I’m currently living in Chengdu, which is based in the Sichuan Province. This province is known for spicy dishes, such as hot pot, which can be quite oily and filled with the tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorn! At InternChina, on a weekly basis we arrange dinners for our interns, so you will have many opportunities to try the amazing local cuisine, wherever you will be based!
Traffic & Safety
The paths and roads are extremely busy with people, cars, bicycles, electric bikes and motorcycles. You will find that the bicycles and electric bikes will not stop at a red light, you will even find them on the pavement where pedestrians normally have the right of way . Never assume, it is safe to cross when there is a green light, there will be cars coming in all directions. But you will quickly grasp to learn to cross the road in no time. If you’re weary, try crossing the road with the locals and remember to just keeping going, don’t hesitate or stop abruptly. The drivers are amazing at driving around you!
Don’t be alarmed when you see a squat toilet! You do find them everywhere in China but you can also find western toilets. In rural areas, however the squat toilets are definitely the preferred choice. Tip: Always take wet wipes/hand sanitizer with you and also you should not put tissue down the toilet, as the plumbing system is not as good as back home.
From my first time in China, the manners of most Chinese people were the hardest for me to deal with. As there are so many people in China, they just don’t know how to queue. There was one time when I was in a queue, another person had pushed in and the person at the counter did not say anything! The whole queue went crazy and what was a nice queue turned into a mob, where every person pushing and shoving trying to get to the front. You will have to get accustomed to this, as you will never get anywhere especially if you are queuing for a bus! Tip: Look out for number one, just go for it, they will not bat an eyelid. However, this is not the case for every single city in China. I have experienced great customer service, where there was no pushing in allowed, and when this happened they were sent to the back of the queue.
If you are a keen Social Media user and use platforms such as Facebook or Twitter and always use these to communicate with your family and friends, you should make sure you purchase and download a VPN, as these Social Media platforms are prohibited in China. One reliable provider is Astrill, which is fairly affordable as well.
In most cases, life in China will be nothing like life back home, but I think the fascinating culture and having to adapt to a completely new way of life is what makes a stay here so worthwhile!
Ready for an adventure? Apply now for an internship and come experience a new culture!