When I arrived in January, I wrote my first blog in French. It may have been easier to write my farewells in my mother tongue but I’m happily taking the risk to use my English skills to reach most of you.
The more I’m growing up, the more I find time hard to capture. I still remember the first day I entered the office, my first impressions, my first time using Mandarin or the first noodles I tasted, but I would have never imagined that I will be sitting here, trying to do a recap of the past 6 months I lived.
6 months is a long time but still, it passed in a blink of an eye. I have seen a lot of people leave, and now my turn has come!
To cut a long story short, my experience can be split with the seasons: Winter and Summer.
Winter in Chengdu was cold, with only a few interns in the city: a small group with big hearts, we all quickly became friends, fighting the coldness of the streets by getting to know each other in the warm and smoky bars of Chengdu. When they left, winter left with them, and was replaced by a fiery Spring/Summer, along with more than 50 interns. Now we are fighting the heat and humidity, and because there are so many people, it’s harder to develop true bounds, even though their hearts are as big.
Spending 6 months working for InternChina was a professional experience far more than enriching: I’ve learned how to adapt to so many different situations that I feel I’m able to move mountains if I want to. We like to call our company a family, and it is! Even though I haven’t met most of my colleagues (spread in China or in Europe), we’re all connected and we can all count on each other.
I was lucky enough to have such an amazing team in Chengdu (Paul, Cassie, Lucy, Tamara, Henry, Joe, Miya and Rainie), a hard-working team always happy to go beyond what is expected of them. I have learned a lot from their undying energy.
InternChina offers to every participant an incredible social network, composed of very different individuals who would probably have never known each other, even if some are from the same countries. A great cultural melting-pot of open-minded people trying to learn as much as they can from Chinese culture.
I have struggled myself, I’m still struggling when I try to use the little mandarin I know, and most of the time my mind is blown away by the contrasts of this country. I love how China can be such a huge mess that works so well. I love how I got to know my Chinese friends and other foreign friends better and how I could learn from their perspective, their vision. I love how I improved myself by getting so much from other people, and give back as much as I could.
I needed to go to China by hook or by crook to see with my own eyes how this great country is moving forward, I’m happy to say that I found more than what I was looking for.
It is still hard to believe that my time here is over, but there is no place for sadness or sorrow, as I’m moving forward with great memories and a lot of stories to tell and to remember. InternChina gave me the push I needed to feel more confident with my own strength: ‘move forward’, ‘get out of your comfort zone’, ‘challenge yourself’!
I truly hope it would be the same for you.
Start your adventure, apply now!
Most people think that the most difficult part in learning Chinese is the writing. Chinese characters look very complicated at the first glance, especially for those who start learning Chinese on their own, and try to memorize random characters. Of course, that’s the hardest way to do that. But you will realize that once you have figured out the system behind the Chinese characters you’ll find it so much easier to memorize them.
Chinese is a quite logical language. If you’re interested in reading and writing Chinese characters, the easiest way is to start with the numbers 1-10. They are very simple to write, quite useful to know:
One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten
一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九 十
This is it! Now you know these characters, you actually know how to read and write all the numbers through 100. The reason is that Chinese counting follows a very simple pattern:
10 = 10 + 1 = 十一
20 = 2 + 10 = 二十
There are so called “radicals” in Chinese language, that defines the character. If you know the basic ones then you could also get the meaning from the characters, even though you don’t know how to spell the word. So Chinese radical is like a graphical component of a Chinese character. This component is often semantic, but could sometimes also be phonetic.
For example the Chinese character for mother consists of two parts.
The left part is the radical 女=”female”. Here the radical is also a semantic component.
The right part is a phonetic component: 马 mǎ = „horse“.
To sum it up, by just checking the left part you know that this character has something to do with a woman and by recognizing the right part you know how to pronounce it. Characters like this are quite easy to remember once you have learned more radicals.
Knowing this helped me a lot to learn Chinese characters. Just yesterday I had a task to call the manager from a company.
The problem was that I’ve never seen this character before and also didn’t know if the manager’s gender. So I checked the name, which says: 张 高娜. So I saw somewhere in the name the female radical 女 and I recognized the phonetic compenent from the family name “长”cháng. The rest of the name was a mystery to me. So picked up the phone, made a call and referred to the manager as „Miss/Manager Chang?“ and it worked out
So the hardest part of learning Chinese is to memorize are the tones, which will be handled in one of our next blogs. Being able to recognize the common radicals helps in the learning and recognition of old and new characters.
You see, learning Chinsese is not that hard. Especially not in one of our language classes.
She currently stays with InternChina in Qingdao. Thea studies sinology back in Vienna and is therefore predestined to write about this topic:
Once you arrive in China the first thing that comes into your way is the language barrier. Chinese language sounds so a lot different from any Western language.
Many people are completely overwhelmed at the beginning just by the exotic sounds and the different tones of Chinese, but appearances are deceitful. Those who have spent time studying this language know that – except for its pronunciation – Chinese is one of the languages with the least grammar rules. My Sinology professor would disapprove here, but I would still say it is true. Trust me, when I tell you – as an Austro-Chinese – that Chinese is so much easier to learn than German. Don’t believe it? There we go!
Compared to German grammar, the Chinese one is non-existing. First of all, we don’t have any article for any noun – bless Buddha, Confucius and all the other Chinese higher powers for that! Ergo, we don’t have to worry about the changes of case endings of neither adjectives nor nouns. Talking about those two word groups, adjectives and nouns can also be used more flexibly than in any Western language.
Especially for English speakers, Chinese grammar is quit straightforward. Most sentences structures are similar to English.
I want to eat something.
Wo xiang chi dongxi.
To help to simplify things even more – Chinese doesn’t have verb conjugations either. Since there are no articles, declinations – just think about German – or hardly any inflections.
There are of course also difficult parts of this exotic language, but there is nothing you can’t learn with just enough practice. I’ll grant you that Chinese characters make the idea of learning Chinese really scary, but next time I’ll show you, that it’s not as wild as it looks like. There are apparently over 80 000 Chinese characters, but we don’t use all of them – and not every character is completely new. You know the verb “to wash” and the noun “room”, so what’s the big deal in remembering the whole new word “washroom”? No big magic behind it, and the same goes for most of the Chinese characters.
Do you want to learn Chinese? Apply now to combine your language classes with an internship.
Why do a summer internship in China
If you live in the northern hemisphere, summer is up and running now, temperatures are rising, the sun is shining and images of beaches and tan people in bathing suits flood the advertising spaces everywhere. If you are a student, school is probably over for the semester or you are wrapping up exams and project deadlines.
It’s likely that you’ve already made plans for the summer (after all, you’ve been thinking about it since spring break was over). But if you still don’t know what you’re going to do for the next three months – or if you like to plan so far ahead that you’re already thinking about next summer – let me tell you why an internship in China is the best thing you can do with your summer.
You might be thinking: “Working? During my summer holiday? Why on Earth would I want to do that?” Yes, of course, everybody’s idea of summer is chilling in the sun by day and partying with piña coladas by night. But the truth is, you will most likely go on vacation for one or two weeks, and then spend the rest of the summer playing Xbox with your friends, hanging out at the mall or running errands for your mom.
What I’m saying is: do something more meaningful with your summer! These days, in the competitive business world that we live in, work experience is highly valued and if you graduate university without any at all, chances are you will have a very hard time finding a job that satisfies your career goals and rewards all the hard work you put into your studies (check out Penelope Trunk’s great blog about the importance of doing a summer internship). Of course, you can do an internship in your home town or even try to find a summer job but, now that you’re already thinking about it, why not do an internship in China?
Having work experience in China gives a great boost to your CV. It is not only the fact that China is increasingly gaining importance in the worlds of business and industry, which will definitely help you stand out to recruiters. But they will also see that you are not afraid to take on a challenge, given that you are willing to travel halfway across the world to live and work in a country with a completely different culture and way of life. How you adapted and handled the language and cultural barriers – this will be a great topic to mention in future job interviews.
But coming to China for an internship during the summer is not only great to improve your career prospects. It is also an opportunity to learn about a new culture and have fun while doing it. Qingdao, Zhuhai and Chengdu are great cities to do this: great weather, not as busy or expensive as Beijing or Shanghai, but still close enough that you can visit them and big enough that there are plenty of places to go to keep your evenings and weekends occupied with fun activities.
Just to mention a few examples: in Qingdao you can spend a day playing beach volleyball, sailing and jet skiing; or go climbing Laoshan Mountain if you’re a bit sportier. At night, you can sit outside drinking beer and eating street BBQ. In Zhuhai, you can go swimming in the sea or a pool, take a trip to one of the 146 islands around the city and even hop over to Macau or Hong Kong for the day, do some sightseeing and eat a delicious meal. Chengdu is a great place to go cycling for both pros and amateurs, given the fact that the landscape is mostly flat so you can go far without wearing yourself out too much. You can also have a relaxing afternoon at a tea house and of course, go see the pandas!
As you can see, doing an internship in China gives you the ultimate summer experience: working, learning and having fun! Conclusion: what are you waiting for?
Would you like to spend your summer doing an internship in China? Apply now on our website or send us an email for more information.
Learning Chinese is a daunting task to say the least; thousands of characters, 4 tones, too many words and many different dialects. It is known as one of the hardest languages to learn in the world, if not the hardest. Yet, there are many of us who take on the challenge. Today I’d like to talk to introduce to you the Chinese script, the dreaded hanzi （汉字）, and hopefully show you that learning them is not as hard as it may at first seem!
Chinese characters are not just lots of squiggles, but more of a code. A code with a system behind it. They have evolved over China’s lengthy history; they are the result of thousands of years of Chinese civilization. Here you can get a slight idea of how some Chinese characters have been formed, with the far right being the current script!
Modern day Chinese has two different types of writing, one which is known as traditional Chinese, and one which is known as simplified Chinese. They are very similar, and in some cases the same. The main reason for the creation of simplified Chinese was to increase the literacy rates in China (and help all of us foreigners trying to learn!). Here are some examples….
The great thing about learning Chinese characters is they are not solely useful in China. Before I started learning Chinese, I came to China on holiday and couldn’t speak a single word of mandarin. When trying to talk to people I always carried a little notepad with me and would write the characters in Japanese for what I wanted. We couldn’t speak to eachother, but we could converse via little messages using this universal script. In Korea although they abandoned using Chinese characters in the 15th century, Chinese characters are still learnt today and are seen as an indispensible part of a classic education – learn one language and you may be able to get round all of Asia!
Now you may be asking, how on earth are these characters formed? How can you go about learning them? Where do I start?
This is the joy of learning Chinese characters. Each character is made up of a few different parts, otherwise known as radicals. There are roughly 300 different radicals, but only 100 or so are in common use. Each radical has a certain meaning accompanying it, and by joining the radicals together you get a word. Some radicals also carry a pronunciation, so by knowing the radicals you may not only understand a characters meaning, but also be able to read it! Despite having no official figure for the number of Chinese characters in use, it is said that there are about 2500 common characters, 1000 less common ones and then another 3500 which are very, very rarely used. (Don’t let this scare you away, after learning the most common 2500 you can probably get through a newspaper without any problems!) Below I’ve put some examples of some simple characters and you can see how they are formed.
木- this means a “tree”，
林- two trees means a “forest”，
森 － three trees means “full of trees”
女 – this means “woman”，
子 – this means “child”，
好 – woman and child together means “ be fond of, good, fine, love” (you should be able to see where this has come from!)
A method I used when learning Japanese characters (“kanji” – same as the Chinese traditional characters) was to make funny stories using the different radicals to help me remember the meanings. In the space of 7 months I manage to learn almost 2000 characters – it’s surprising how much you can remember if your stories are entertaining enough! I used a book which was written by James Heisig in order to go through these 2000 characters, and he has also written one for Chinese which I thoroughly recommend to any learners out there! Making stories to learn complex characters is the best way; the more ridiculous the stories the better.
Check out their website: https://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications/miscPublications/Remembering%20Hanzi%201.htm
They even give you a chance to preview the start of the book and see if it is for you…
So I hope I haven’t scared you away from learning Chinese characters. They may seem very difficult at first, but if you work through them bit by bit, I promise they will get easier…get stuck in and I’m sure you will get a lot out of it!
James Mabbutt is InternChinas part-time intern in Qingdao Office. He’s learning Chinese at Ocean University and is living with a Chinese family at the moment.
If you are interested in learning Chinese as well, apply for some language classes in Qingdao or Zhuhai and take the great opportunity to live with a Chinese family in a homestay. Apply via email@example.com or through https://internchina.com/apply/