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Living in China – Chengdu. You’ll never truly get it until you go!

You think this is weird? Welcome to China!
When I talk to my family and friends back home, either on Skype or on Whats App Call (such a genius invention!), they often ask me what is life in China is like. They want to know what the differences are between everyday life here compared to life back home. They want to know what the weather is like, how the food tastes, how many people were on the metro this morning, how much you pay for clothes and what the city looks like between the skyscrapers. They are generally very curious about what people in Chengdu are like. I always try my best to answer their questions in as much detail as possible, but I often find that there are some things about China you just cannot explain. You have to experience them yourself. Still, I would like to share some of my “What China is really like” knowledge with you and tell you a bit about what I experience here every day.

InternChina - China Weirdness
InternChina – China Weirdness

The Food

Living in China’s food capital, Chengdu, it almost certainly means putting on some weight. However, for some reason this seems to be quite surprising for people at home. “In China they eat so healthy and they have lots of vegetables so how is this even possible?”. What they do not understand is, the food here is simply amazing and there are just so many new dishes to try that you do not want to miss out on anything! If your Chinese friends invite you over for dinner or want to take you on a city food tour to introduce their favourite dishes to you, you do not want to offend them by saying no. Luckily, there are quite a lot of gyms here in Chengdu…

InternChina - Nourishing Food
InternChina – Nourishing Food

It is very common to share dishes here in China so when you have lunch together you often order several dishes that are served in the middle of the table so everybody can help themselves. If you are invited for dinner you can be certain that your host has prepared one dish per person. That might sound like a lot of work (and I am sure it probably is) but if you think about the concept of sharing dishes this actually makes sense. Your host can be sure that no one goes hungry and as a guest you are able to enjoy a variety of dishes rather than just one. Just think about all those times that you spent dreading the food at Western parties, but had to put on a brave face in order to please your host…

InternChina - Street Food
InternChina – Street Food


InternChina - Fish Snacks
InternChina – Fish Snacks

Direct English translations of Chinese dishes may sometimes sound, well, a little exotic and slightly misleading. I do not mean this in a negative but in a positive way. One of my favourite dishes is 鱼香茄子 , translated to “Fish flavoured eggplant”. If I had known this before I tried it I would have probably thought twice about eating it. But don’t judge a book by its cover (or in this case a dish by its name)!

InternChina - Jianbing Pancake (source)
InternChina – Jianbing Pancake (source)


InternChina - Delicious Food
InternChina – Delicious Food


InternChina - Street Snacks
InternChina – Street Snacks

The Noise

One of the most striking things I noticed about China when I first arrived here was the fact that it is always incredibly loud. Of course this is somewhat normal for a big city but there is a difference between big city noise in China and big city noise in the rest of the world. This is probably because the Chinese love all kinds of entertainment so there are always various radio or TV programmes on all at the same time. Display screens are literally everywhere.
The traffic here is also super loud. Not just because there are so many cars but because everybody, particularly taxi drivers, seems to love honking their car horns for no apparent reason. After more than three months of living here I have come to the conclusion that this is probably not the unfriendly “get out of my way why did they even give you a driver’s license!” kind of honking you often find in the West, but more like a way of communicating. After living in China for a while you just blend out the noise and it becomes normal.

InternChina - Lady on a Scooter
InternChina – Lady on a Scooter


InternChina - Would you find your bike?
InternChina – Would you find your bike?

Hot water

If you are feeling unwell here in China you often hear “just rest and drink hot water”, as if this was some sort of miracle cure to make all kinds of pain disappear immediately. You know what? It works! This may seem totally weird to Westerners and I must admit I felt a bit strange about it as well when I was first given this piece of advice. After all, if you want a hot drink why not just drink tea or coffee? but just like with all things in life, this is something you’ll eventually get used to. Drinking hot water is actually really good for you!

InternChina - Drinking Hot Water
InternChina – Drinking Hot Water (source)

You’re beautiful!

If you are a foreigner like me, get used to people whispering “Wooow, beautiful” when you walk by. Even if you actually look your ‘worst’ on that day. It gives your ego a nice boost and I often cannot help but think how nice it would be if people at home did the same. At least to some Chinese people I look like a top model, so I do not have to worry about make-up and clothes all that much. I am not sure how many family albums or WeChat moments my picture has graced so far but it must be a lot. I often ask myself what people do with the photos after having taken them but I guess I´ll never find out. All that remains to say then is: Happy snapping!

InternChina - Chinese Taking Photos
InternChina – Chinese Taking Photos (source)


Last but not least, some of my “top weird China experiences ” :

InternChina - Special Soup
InternChina – Special Soup (source)
  • One morning, when I stepped in the elevator there was a young gentleman on a ladder trying to change the light bulb. I was slightly confused and wanted to take the other lift but the repairman apparently thought that this was not necessary. He asked me to just ignore him and kept on working while the lift was going up and down…
  • When I took an overnight train, people tried to sell me singing fish and toe clippers.
  • There are no seat belts in taxis’ in Chengdu.
  • Chinese song covers of popular Western pop songs are extremely funny.
  • There are cars with only three wheels.
  • There are so many things Chinese people manage to stack on their bikes…
  • No limit on where you can sleep in China – everywhere is a possibility.
  • Shops or restaurants vanish over night.
  • Two days later there’ll be a new shop in it’s place.
  • There are employees for literally everything.
  • Some buildings have elevators just for scooter drivers.
InternChina - Internet Hole
InternChina – Internet Hole (source)


InternChina - Beds are overrated anyway
InternChina – Beds are overrated anyway


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Si, ya he hecho mi primer viaje por Asia, y la verdad que en este viaje hemos tenido de todo.

Hemos pasado por todas las fases posibles, desde ilusión, porque lo organizábamos mi compañera y yo, estrés porque salían imprevistos por todos sitios y queríamos que todo fuese perfecto, felicidad porque nos gusto a todos el viaje, y cansancio porque para algunos de nuestros compañeros la vuelta fue eterna.

Como ya he dicho, este viaje al haberlo organizado nosotras, he experimentado las tres fases de un viaje: pre-viaje, viaje y post viaje, pero si tuviera que calificarlo en una sola palabra sería, imprevisto. En todas las etapas hemos tenido alguno. El mayor de todos…los vuelos. Y el ser aún una novata en las aerolíneas chinas esta provocando que tenga a mi compañera Amber loquita perdida.

La verdad es que me llevé una grata sorpresa con Shanghai, porque pensé que ya no quedaría mucho de las antiguas casa chinas, esas que vemos en las películas o en los libros de historia, pero no. A pesar de ser una ciudad enorme, y una de las más visitadas…sigue manteniendo su raíz y lo mejor de todo es que tanto las casas antiguas como modernas conviven y se combinan entre sí, junto con su barrio Francés.

InternChina - Shanghai
InternChina – Shanghai

Uno de mis sitios favoritos fue el puente “The Bund” con unas vistas preciosas y prácticamente cantamos bajo la lluvia y nos quedaron unas fotos muy bonitas. El otro sitio que me gustó mucho fue el Bazar de los jardines Yuyuan, dentro de sus galerías estaba la casa del té y para quienes adoramos las tiendas de souvenires, es el paraíso, y más si sabes regatear precios. Y una de las nuevas experiencias adquiridas ha sido encontrar un taxi y coger un vuelo a su hora. Allí que estábamos nosotros, 16 europeos con ganas de conocer la noche en Shanghai e intentado encontrar un taxista disponible junto a “The Bund” haha ¡Sólo se nos ocurre a nosotros! Pero creo que parte de mis compañeros aprendieron a llevar las situaciones con más filosofía después de que le cancelaran el vuelo. Pero no perdieron la sonrisa porque se hicieron fotos con niños bajo el agua.

InternChina - Shanghai
InternChina – Shanghai

Tras este viaje, baidu maps app se ha convertido en mi guía, siempre que no quiera reírse de mí y me mande en dirección contraria. Y he aprendido que cuando vas a coger un avión en China, tienes que llevarte un libro para leer durante las horas de retraso o tomártelo con mucha filosofía.

Aquí puedes encontrar más experiencias.



Before your stay, Chengdu Business, Internship Experience, Understanding Business in China

InternChina on-site support – Company Visits

The InternChina service includes a wide range of aspects such as personal on-site support for interns. We are visiting companies on a regular base, talk to interns and supervisors to receive their feedback and support them as a mediator. We believe that an open communication between the company, the intern and InternChina is crucial for a successful internship experience and we are striving to improve the overall quality of the internship at any time.

InternChina staff with interns
InternChina staff with interns

Today, my colleague Paul Yeandle (Trainee Office Manager Chengdu) and myself (Office Manager Chengdu) went to one of our partner companies to see how Andrew (UK) and Matthew (Australia) are doing in their internship. The partner company is an IT-company which is developing Gaming apps for iOS and Android devices. The company atmosphere is laid-back and allows creative minds to think freely. There is a lot of space, the lighting is bright and friendly and the staff (even though some of them only speak limited English) is welcoming and curious about the foreigners. Interns in this company can be placed in a variety of positions, including all different kinds of designers, students with marketing backgrounds as well as programmers. An affinity for computer, console and online games is a condition though – because everything is about gaming here!

company atmosphere
InternChina – partner company with billiards table

The reception and community room includes a billiards and a ping-pong table as well as an XBOX room where the staff can spend their breaks. For those who prefer a more relaxed lunch-break two automatic massage chairs are available and the lunch-break takes about two hours (which is very typical for Chinese Companies).

Feedback talk
InternChina – feedback round with students
Feedback talk between InternChina and interns
Feedback talk between InternChina and interns

When we arrived today we had a quick feedback talk with the American Internship supervisor, who was very satisfied with the interns work. We caught a peak at the interns working station and then had a quick feedback round outside in the reception area with the interns together. Both, Andrew and Matthew are happy with their internship but of course being in China also offers a lot of surprises to them. So we had a good chat with them about cultural differences between Western countries and China and how important communication is to feel more comfortable and settle down much easier.  From our experience, interning in China can be a very different experience from what you know from the West, so we help our interns to not only understand the differences but to develop strategies which help them to cope with their Culture Shock that they might encounter.

company motto
InternChina – partner company with motto


We were very happy to see how well both interns have settled already and started to build up their “guanxi” (relationship network) within the company. We all agreed, that this is the key point of having a great internship experience: If you are able to bond with your colleagues and supervisors, you will have a great time and in return get a wide field of opportunities offered that you would have never thought of before.

All in all, it was a great experience for Paul, who actually had the chance to see our interns in action in their internship companies and for Matthew and Andrew as they can be confident in speaking with us about their internship experience and give us great feedback as a reference for future interns. It will help us to improve the overall quality of our internship service and will help them to have a great time in China. Thank you: Andrew, Matthew and Paul!

If you want to join Andrew and Matthew in Chengdu, please check our available internship positions and apply now through our website! We only need your CV and cover letter and will guide you personally through our application process.

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Introducing Mosche Orth and his Panda Adventure

Hello, this is Mosche. I am the new intern in the InternChina Chengdu office. I am 24 years old and I am studying Political Science in Hanover, Germany. Since I started taking Chinese classes at my university and I have always been interested in China (I watched too many Jackie Chan movies as a teenager!) , I thought it was a nice idea to get some real China experience, so I chose Chengdu because it’s not as Western as Beijing or Shanghai. I arrived on Saturday morning in this beautiful city of Western China. Well, what to start off with in China I personally couldn’t wait to see China’s greatest national treasure.  It´s not the Great Wall or the Terracotta Army (though I guess those must be fantastic, too) It is the GIANT PANDA!!!

Rain or shine pandas always make you smile!

Luckily, yesterday, the InternChina Chengdu team plus a local host family visited the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding near to Chengdu, which is the biggest Panda research centre in China (and probably the world). Most of us saw these precious Chinese animals for the first time. I consider the panda to be a very cute animal; seeing the Giant Panda for the first time was a humbling experience.

Panda getting a bit too intimate with Mosche

Furthermore, we met the Red Panda (Shifu from Kung Fu Panda). Since they aren’t caged, we were literally able to have some body contact. Fortunately, it only tried to bite the Chinese visitor after me.

Master Shifu approaching!

Last but not least, we finished the day with a local culinary speciality: Fish head Hotpot. There is a not so spicy and a spicy version (a non-spicy version was nought to be found!). Since I did a previous internship in Singapore I am used to hot food, I dared to take the spicy version of the hotpot and it was delicious. The restaurant also offered an all-you-can-drink bar for free, making the combination of a delicious local dish and free beer a nice cap to my first day in China.

Hot pot: A lovely way to end our day!

To sum it up, thanks to the InternChina team in Chengdu, I had a great start in my new home for the next five months. I am looking forward to further great trips, challenges and chilly evenings in Chengdu and China.

Feel like exploring China’s national treasures with Mosche? Come to China! Apply now for an internship or send us an email for more information.