In 2009 I set foot in China for the first time. I was in Beijing for a semester at Peking University and my time there passed in a blur. I barely knew the language and it was my first time being abroad on my own. So now, seven years later and with more Mandarin under my belt than just xie xie (谢谢) and bu yao (不要), I am ready to take on my second Chinese adventure.
After being here for a few weeks now, I can definitely say that I am happy I chose Zhuhai to do my internship. While Zhuhai does have everything a big metropolis has to offer, it doesn’t feel overly crowded or hectic. There are parks and green spaces all over the city and life here is a little more laid back. That does not mean that being here isn’t a little overwhelming at times. It takes a while to get used to living in a different place and being in a different culture, and it isn’t always easy. Not being able to fully speak the language also makes every interaction a little more difficult, as each time it takes a little bit longer to get my point across, but that’s OK. I’m here to soak up as much as I can and with every day it gets easier and easier. I have a great support group here with InternChina and they have definitely made my first couple of weeks here a breeze.
My favorite thing about coming to China and living in Zhuhai is the food! I love that food is such a big part of the culture here and plays an important part in daily life. On every street you can find little shops selling all kinds of different stuff. I love trying new cuisines and dishes, and I haven’t had a bad meal yet!
I am really looking forward to my internship and to living in Zhuhai. I can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring!
Throughout history, China, or the Middle Kingdom has had a special place in Westerners’ imagination. From the cradle of civilisation in the ancient Xia dynasty to the mighty empire of the Tang dynasty, China has always been a land of mystery for the majority of the Western world. Today, riding on the tides of globalisation, China is closer to the world than ever before. Many claim that just as 20th century was America’s century, the 21st century will be China’s.
We have been asking our interns about their expectations of doing an internship in China. In an internship, interns look for lots of varied and interesting work. An internship should have at least one big project that interns can put a lot of their energy into and can really make a different to the company. Interns also hope to attain quantifiable goals and skills they can use when they return home.
“The internship is great. I’m learning lots of new things and my workmates are all fantastic. Another plus is that there is unlimited free rice and soup in the canteen!!” (Joe Martin, Trade intern)
Modern China is a country of many faces. The rapid economic growth over the past 30 years spurred high-tech development across the Eastern coastal cities that puts many Western cities to shame. Many who visit Chinese metropolises marvel at how similar China is to their home country, contrary to their expectations.
“After coming to China I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of cuisine here in Qingdao. Initially I was worried that I might struggle to adopt to Chinese food, but there are so many options to choose from that you will definitely find something that suits your taste. Even if you have special dietary requirements like being vegetarian or only eating halal food, you will still be able to manage!” (Meredith Kern, Marketing intern)
Young Chinese are increasingly becoming global citizens that effortlessly keep pace with the latest pop culture hits. Youngsters from around the world are more and more drawn by China’s successes in the world of business. For many, China’s rapidly developing economy is the main reason they choose to come to China. It is now simply the place TO BE. Understanding Chinese business practice is becoming a necessity for anyone who wishes to embark on an international career in business.
“Learning the nuances of doing business in China and understanding the rituals of ‘guanxi’ have really made my time here that much more valuable.” (Griffin Baxley, Consulting intern)
But it is not just the stunning economic development that instils curiosity in the minds of young people across the world. What makes China so enticing is precisely the blend of old and new. One could not hope to understand modern China without also understanding its rich and intricate cultural heritage. After all, the rules that underlie modern business practices stem from age-old Chinese traditions and customs.
Some come to China in search of ancient Chinese culture, the way they know it from childhood stories:
“Every morning from my bedroom window in Qingdao, I look outside and see the craggy peaks rising high above, revealing twisting trails which seem to appear and vanish, intricately carved sculptures of fish and lions, jagged rocks, birds that wheel and hover, and trees that whisper and sway.
When I look upon the light and dark greens and blues and browns of these high peaks, all blending together like the hues of a half-remembered dream, I think of Dragonkeeper—the mountain range before me just as I always imagined in the story.” (Sophie Comber, Journalism intern)
And yet others find satisfaction in immersing themselves in the daily lives of the common people. They are pleasantly surprised when through their internship they get to know Chinese people as a whole better.
“I was taken aback by the hospitality and by how helpful everyone is. My company has been very accommodating to my needs (e.g. praying) and everyone here is really friendly. I’ve got an employee assigned to me and if I need any help all I need is just to ask. Also, the work expectations are not crazy! Hour and a half lunch break! (Tanvir Ahmed, Sales & Marketing intern)
No matter what expectations interns have before coming to China, an internship in China is a great opportunity to show young people from around the world the ‘real China’ and allow them to form an opinion for themselves.
My September homestay family lives in an apartment complex in northern Shinan District. They are kind, hospitable and very friendly, a couple and their ten-year-old son—I am really enjoying my time with them. Living in the building is like living in a beehive—so many apartments—fittingly; the ten-year-old is a fan of honey. We eat breakfasts and most dinners together, which I really like, as they are lovely people, and I also hope my Chinese will get better as a result.
Our towering building is built against the base of a mountain, part of Fu Shan Forest Park. In the midst of the complex, there is a garden with a shivering river, pink lotuses floating on its surface. At nightfall, many adults and children come out to the garden. They laugh, chat, play, dance, run around and listen to music, and with handheld coloured lights, they trail luminous patterns and characters on the dark. The windows of buildings glow like jewels, and the moon hangs low, as large as painted in ancient Chinese artworks; full, round, golden, celestial.
There are many reasons why I decided to come to China for three months shortly after graduating university, reasons both professional and language-related. But perhaps none of those reasons would exist, and perhaps nor would my Chinese language skills, if not for stories I loved at a much younger age. So, for my first entry, I will begin with these stories.
When I was a child, one of my favourite books was named Dragonkeeper, which told of a slave girl who lived in ancient China’s Han Dynasty. Complaining all the while, she selflessly rescued an old green dragon from captivity and death in the mountains. Beset by dangers, she and the dragon travelled together on a long, difficult quest. Their twin journeys: his to find the ocean, a safe place for his child to hatch; and hers to find her own name and her own identity.
Every morning from my bedroom window in Qingdao, I look outside and see the craggy peaks rising high above, revealing twisting trails which seem to appear and vanish, intricately carved sculptures of fish and lions, jagged rocks, birds that wheel and hover, and trees that whisper and sway.
When I look upon the light and dark greens and blues and browns of these high peaks, all blending together like the hues of a half-remembered dream, I think of Dragonkeeper—the mountain range before me just as I always imagined in the story. I wonder if the girl and her dragon friend may have made their way, clambering and climbing, tired and footsore, among these mountains. If they came to Qingdao, perhaps they soon found the sea. (But first, I’m sure they took the time for a rest stop at Gaoshan, “High Mountain”— for what a perfect place for a dragon, after having curled up and rested, to take flight!)
On the mountain hike I took with my host family in Fu Shan Forest Park, I could just as easily imagine Sun Wukong, the mischievous Monkey King of the Chinese classic Journey to the West, leaping from peak to peak, treetop to treetop, soaring atop his cloud, spinning his gleaming magic staff, his grinning face coloured brown and gold.
When I was five years old, I read with relish a set of Stories of the Monkey King, coincidentally; the same tales most Chinese people come into contact with at a similar age. They told of the noble Buddhist monk Xuanzang who goes in search of sacred Buddhist sutras, and of his disciples; the food-loving pig-man Zhu Bajie, the stoic soldier Sha Wujing, and the Taoist trickster god, the Monkey King.
The Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, and the Jade Emperor, sentence the Monkey King to act as bodyguard for the three other travellers, as penance for his past crime in Heaven—he had ruined the heavenly garden of the Peaches of Immortality belonging to the Queen Mother of the West. He is sworn to protect and defend the other travellers against a host of malevolent supernatural beings led by the White Bone Demon, who are determined to kill and eat the holy monk, and destroy the sacred scrolls. The stories were exciting, hair-raising, dramatic, emotional and funny—perfect for children. Tales of bravery, tragedy, redemption, which were all about fighting battles against hordes of demons using magic, weapons, wits and Buddha-esque compassion—what could be better?
Dragonkeeper and Stories of the Monkey King were my first experience with Chinese culture—I adored these stories, and I never forgot them.
Without them, I might not be here today.
It makes me very happy to have come to Qingdao, where I can imagine the stories taking place.
Two interns in Zhuhai, Alizée Ville and Alice Roberts, interning at a biochemistry company, were recently given the opportunity to travel to the north of Guangdong province. On 28th-29th June their manager Wesley invited them to visit two farms in the Guangdong countryside which were to become suppliers for his new restaurants. Here’s how they got on whilst they were away.
After a long drive, our first stop was at a restaurant where they served us famous Chinese chicken and the ‘best bamboo root in china’. The bamboo root was freshly cut and cooked so it lacked the strong smell that not-so-fresh bamboo roots give off. It is common in china to serve the heads and tails of any meat and fish, so it was new to see chicken and duck head on the plate. We also tried unfertilised chicken eggs before they are shelled.
Fei Sha Hu near the lake: office + new theme park
We then visited Mr Lai’s office, which was in a traditional style building by a large lake. When we arrived, we spotted a calligraphy table, where we practiced some Chinese writing (書法 Shūfǎ) and were taught how to hold the brush. Calligraphy can be considered an art form in China.
During this trip I have realized the importance of tea in social gatherings and business meetings. It is used as a symbolism of hospitality and is the first thing presented on arrival. When we arrived at Mr Lai’s office, he had a beautiful table made specifically for “Chayi”, the art of drinking tea. The water was boiled on a hot plate built into the table and used to clean the china, and then the remaining water was poured over a small porcelain four faced Buddha’s head (supposedly representing Brahma Hindu). The tea was a mix of green tea leaves and herbs, which Mr Lai took pride in. While the tea was served, I noticed a common courtesy was to tap two fingers on the table, near your cup, as a way of saying thank you.
During the tea ceremony, the atmosphere is very friendly and casual. I have noticed that Chinese business culture differs to western, as friendly talk is mixed with business talk, rather than having strict meeting schedules. After a while, a poster of a proposed theme park map was shown to us and it was explained that around the lake, Mr Lai and his colleagues are planning to build a theme park.
Qingyuan (Lilac Garden Hotel)
We spent the night at the Lilac Garden Hotel, in Qingyuan, by the Bei River. Home to four million people, the city is growing alarmingly fast, with new high rising residential towers being built everywhere.
Boat Fish restaurant (in Qingyuan)
That night, we were invited to dinner on a boat restaurant, where we were served freshly fished seafood. The place also raised ducks and geese, so all the meat and fish couldn’t have been fresher. During our dinner, men from our neighbouring table were even fishing while they were eating. We were introduced to Chairman Xie, leader of the Agricultural Board of the Qingyuan district, whom joined us for the festivities. We were then served Fei Xia Ye, a special locally made rice liquor, which is sipped during the meal. Strong, it also has a floral aftertaste.
Chicken and pig farms
The morning of the 29th we drove to the chicken farm that planned on supplying Wesley’s new restaurant. To get there, we had to climb up a hill, despite it being one of the easiest ones to access. Once we reached the top, we saw a chicken pen but no chickens. These chickens were so free range that they were able to roam the hills without fences, so much so that we were not able to see one. As these are free range, they eat whatever they find in the hills so they are not guaranteed to be organic, however the farmers in this area are not educated on how to use fertilizers and pesticides so they do not tend to use them, making the chickens most likely organic.
We did not stay too long and were soon back on the road, to visit an organic piggery. Situated in Donghua (near Yingde), Mr. Zeng Fanwei’s farm hosts domestic Tibetan pigs. Tibetan pigs are (quite obviously) native to Tibet, from around the Brahamaputra river, which is elevated at about 3500 meters. These pigs are thus comfortable in high altitudes and prefer wide pastures, which is why they seem to strive in the Donghua area.
The pigs are kept in age groups, starting at 3 months old (the younger ones being kept with mothers until they are weaned), and acquire bigger pens as they grow. The older ones are allowed to roam freely in the mountain. Being an “Ecological Agricultural Science and Technology” company, the pigs are raised in respect to organic norms and humane treatment.
After lunch and lychees at the pig farm, we started our journey back to Zhuhai. However, within 300 metres, one of the tyres burst and we were all stuck in the Chinese countryside. After a few complications, and some tea at the neighbour’s house we were able to get to a garage and fix it. While driving back we saw lots of beautiful countryside and passed over Guangzhou’s huge industrial harbour.
Interested in being presented with opportunities like this? Apply now to intern in China.
So I’ve been roped into writing another blog. Last time I was writing about wacky shrimp-charmers and typical Chinese benevolence but I’m toning it all down a bit in an attempt to brandish my questionable cooking talent. However, do not fear these recipes, for they have earned critical acclaim from seasoned pundits such as my ex-flatmate and anosmic sausage-dog. What’s more is that I present an opportunity to make friends with your local veg-stall owner. Just visit every day and say ‘shēng yì xīng lóng’ after you’ve paid and you’ll be friends for life.
Perhaps I should stop flaunting my credentials get on with what you came here for.
Dish One – Egg Fried Rice
‘It sounds boring!’ I hear you cry. “It’s too easy!” you moan. Pfft. Don’t you remember the social sec from that questionable university rugby club telling you not to knock something until you’ve tried it?
- Egg, obviously. You’re going to need 2-5 of these, depending on how much you hit the gym.
- Rice. Try to scale this with the number of eggs you’ve used.
- Some kind of oil to grease your wok. I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
- Vegetables. Normally I go with a solitary carrot because I’m boring, but you should try adding broccoli, pak choi or cauliflower. If you’re feeling really adventurous then add all four.
- Soy sauce, obviously. This is China after all.
- Sesame oil. This is the secret ingredient that sets apart the Jamie Olivers from the normal Olivers.
Start by getting your rice cooker on the go. While she’s doing the hard work for you, chop up your vegetables into little chunks and crack open your eggs into a small bowl. Then, fry the veg in your wok on a medium/high heat in some oil.
Once those seedless fruits are looking nice and cooked turn down the heat to low/medium and throw in the eggs. Be sure to give them a good whacking with a wooden spoon. Beat them until it looks like that scene from Team America when the hero-guy comes out of the pub.
Now you need to add in the rice. Make sure that it isn’t all mushy with water then throw it into the wok. Pour some soy sauce over it and stir it in. Usually you’ll need about 10-20mL of soy sauce, but you’ll soon work out how strong you like your flavours. Finally, pour some sesame oil into the wok and mix that in too. About 3-5mL is all you need.
And voila! That took about 15 minutes.
Dish Two – Chicken Stir Fry
This is my signature dish in China. My old housemates back home in England know how proud I was of my first bhuna and others find my bolognese irresistible. However, China isn’t fond of curry and you’ll pay a lot of money to cook yourself a proper bolognese so I’ll try to keep on topic.
- Chicken. Cluck cluck.
- Rice or noodles. This is a great opportunity because you can disguise this single recipe as two by using either carbohydrate base.
- Carrots. Feel free to add other vegetables but the carrots are the best thing about this dish.
- Ginger. You’ll need about 5cm of this, maybe more. Who knows? You’ll find out how much you like soon enough.
- Garlic. While we’re on the subject, anyone reading who hasn’t been to China might be interested to know that the Chinese like to munch on whole garlic cloves. You’ll need about three for this dish.
- Soy sauce. You’ll work out how much you need.
- Oil. Again, I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
- Honey (not essential).
- Peanut butter (not essential).
- Peanuts (not essential).
Choose if you want rice or noodles. Prepare them but wait until later to cook.
Slice and dice your chicken and slap it into a moderately oiled wok. You don’t want to turn on the heat yet unless you like your chicken black. Wash your chopping board if you don’t have access to another and use it to chop your carrots. Slice them into 1cm thick batons, wash them and leave them aside. Turn on the chicken to a medium heat. Then start chopping up the ginger and garlic into tiny pieces. A big meaty cleaver helps with this. The smaller the better. You’ll see what I mean.
Somewhere in the middle of chopping up the ginger and garlic you’ll hear a mysterious voice whisper in your ear: ‘don’t forget to turn on the rice’. This will only occur if you chose to cook rice. Obey the voice.
When the chicken is almost cooked, which is usually when you’ve just peeled the garlic and ginger, put your carrots in the wok. If you’re cooking noodles, boil the water now.
When you feel like you can’t be bothered to chop ginger and garlic anymore, put them in the wok and turn the flame up high. I try to make some room in the middle of the wok and put them there, adding the soy sauce at the same time. I find that the flavours come out better when it’s been blasted with heat. Leave it for about 15 seconds and then stir it all in. After a few minutes I like to pick the wok up and toss the ingredients up into the air and catch them again in the wok. (I actually do this with the lid on but it’s still good practice). Finally, add a squirty of honey and a spoony of peanut butter. Stir it like that rumour you spread about Tom and Lucy back in ‘08.
If your choice was noodles, start cooking them now. They need about one or two minutes. If you chose rice, it should be cooked by now. Put it in a bowl and add a little bit of soy sauce. I like to add the noodles to the wok and stir fry them with some extra soy sauce.
About now everything should be ready. Just serve it up. Garnish with peanuts to add extra protein and a new crunchy texture.
And that’s it! Another just-satisfactory blog that has slipped through the editor’s occasionally slippery net.
I’m in sunny Chengdu on a marketing internship with InternChina, and the city already feels like a home away from home! Having backpacked around China last summer I fell in love with the country, but, of all the provinces I visited, my favourite was Sichuan. We began in Chengdu, declared a “foodie heaven” by UNESCO in 2011, and I indulged in local delicacies such as dàndàn miàn (noodles with spicy Sichuan pepper) and the famous local hotpot. Chengdu’s tea houses were also a personal favourite, and I even had a go at playing mahjong with some locals (to no avail!). I also discovered a more varied local culture when wondering the streets of Chengdu’s Tibetan quarter and admiring the many golden Buddhist sculptures for sale there.
I then bade farewell to the capital and made the journey to Jiuzhaigou further north. This place reminded me of a real-life fairyland with its’ sparkling turquoise lakes nestled between a huge valley. I could spend hours wondering around here and would recommend it to anyone in the Sichuan area!
Finally we ventured further north to explore more of “Sichuanese Tibet” where I wandered the vast grasslands that stretch toward the Tibetan plateau. You can even live amongst the locals in tents and go horse-riding along the plains if you want the full Tibetan experience.
Having graduated with a BA in History and Mandarin from the University of Exeter, I really wanted to come over and live in China. For me, Chengdu was an easy choice because of the culture I had experienced there, and even after a week here I’m finding it a very live-able city with a foreigner-friendly and laid-back vibe. On my first night the InternChina guys took me for Korean Barbecue which was lovely and everyone here at the office has been incredibly friendly and helpful.
If you’re looking to fully experience Chinese culture and explore one of its’ amazing cities please click here
My name is Mai, I’m majoring in Economics and Culture of China at University of Hamburg in Germany and I’ve just arrived a week ago in beautiful Chengdu.
I’ve been to China a few times already, my first time in China I visited Beijing for a two-week school exchange in 2010 and then four years later, I attended the Nankai University in Tianjin for a Summer School Programme. This is now my third time in China, I’m here for a three month internship in the InternChina Office in Chengdu.
Although my major is Chinese related, I have always been interested in other Asian cultures, as well. Therefore, I decided to spend a year abroad in Seoul, South Korea engrossing myself into as many asian cultures and environments as possible.
After my studies abroad, I’m now back in China to experience what it’s like to do business in China whilst collecting a few more practical skills, particularly within the field of Marketing since I’m intending to do my Master’s degree in Marketing or Business Development Studies.
What I really like about Chengdu is that it differs from the other cities I’ve visited so far in China: Chengdu is a well-developed and yet impulsive city that still seems to have preserved the tradition very well – it’s a city between modernity and tradition that makes my stay here both very interesting and challenging.
I’m sure that there are three exciting months coming ahead with the great people I’m surrounded by as well as good and spicy Sichuan food!
If you want to experience China, apply here now!
On Thursday 30 June, Henrik Larsen the principal coach and consultant at HWAO Consulting, did an exclusive business talk for the partner companies and interns of InternChina Zhuhai, the talk focused on the cultural differences between the East and West and how understanding these differences and adapting to them will ensure that a multi-cultural office is managed more effectively. With experience across three continents, including 18 years of management experience in China, Henrik has a comprehensive understanding of working in cross culture environments.
Henrik started the session by interacting with the participants, ensuring that he knew what cultures and work-backgrounds people in the room were from, this enabled him to deliver his talk in the most effective way. Henrik has a background in banking, IT, manufacturing, R&D high-tech electronics, coaching and consulting, meaning he has worked with a wide range of people from multiple different work backgrounds.
Throughout the talk, Henrik constantly asked questions and got the participants to interact with him. The atmosphere of the talk was up-beat yet comfortable – all participants were able to discuss their experiences in a judgement-free zone and often get Henrik’s advice. Matters regarding hierarchy, individualism, body language and humour were openly discussed. The talk gave the interns the opportunity to engage with some of their soon-to-be colleagues and employers in a business environment.
Hofstede’s theory and Meyers cultural map were also mentioned, this lead to them being analysed and questioned, participants would often look at the map and compare first-hand experiences. Often this would lead to discussions which would eventually lead the participants to evaluate their own managerial skills.
The talk that Henrik provided for InternChina and our partner companies was highly educational, eye-opening and enjoyable. The constant involvement from the participants ensured that they understood what was being discussed and helped them gain the most out of this experience.
The interns who participated in the talk were given the opportunity to learn about Chinese business culture before starting their internships. This has enabled them to go into their work placement with an open mind, and with the expectation or the working environment to differ from that they are used to.
HWAO Consulting works with individuals and corporations who desire to better understand and improve their position in China – through Business Consultancy, Board Work, Executive Coaching and Training. Find out more about the business here.
If you are interested in working in a cross-cultural environment all while experiencing Chinese business culture, please apply here.
My name is Todd Waterman and I am currently completing a 6 week internship organised by InternChina. Before my internship started, InternChina arranged 2 weeks of traditional activities in an attempt to familiarise us with the culture. I found that these really helped to contribute to my understanding of the current hustle and bustle which surrounds me each day. It sounds far-fetched, but as a person who comes from a country which lacks any cultural historic significance, it was really moving to experience an actual ‘way of life’.
First of all, we have the language lessons. I had never spoken a word of Chinese before, other than the odd rude phrase taught to me by Cantonese friends. This activity for me was probably the most interesting of them all. I’ve never been one for languages, I took German at GCSE and never clicked enough with it to want to continue indefinitely. I feel somewhat differently about Mandarin. From the off-set, I think I appreciated how valuable it is with China’s economic situation sky-rocketing.
This urged me to dedicate a substantial amount of effort to the classes, and now after 30 hours of Mandarin lessons, I have expressed an interest to pay for some of my own. As a result, I have chosen to carry on my lessons until the end of the programme, and depending on my progression, into the third year of university. The past two weeks has given me the basic vocabulary, but considering Mandarin is tonal, I appreciate that I have a long way to go.
The second activities I’d like to touch on are the business talks and factory tours. In total, there were three, all of which I found exceptionally useful. The first was with Bowers & Wilkins, a company that manufactures and sells top of the range speakers. This was the first time I had witnessed an industrial environment in China and so it was fascinating to see the production line. What peaked my curiosity towards this company in particular was that a member of my family owns a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, and I was fully aware of the sound quality it produced. It was therefore interesting to learn about the mechanics behind the creation, and witness that creation for myself.
Another activity that really stood out for me was witnessing a professional play some Chinese instruments, and then attempting to play a few for myself. In particular, the Gu Zheng as pictured was wonderful to listen to. Once again, I am not naturally gifted with music, but there is every chance that in the near future, I will invest in a Gu Zheng and do my best to learn it. Activities such as this are the reason why I have appreciated the past two weeks so much. I would never have even known what a Gu Zheng (commonly called the Chinese piano – by me) was unless I had applied for this programme, and now I’ve fallen in love with it.
The final activity that I wish to note was the calligraphy. All I really need to say is that, once you’ve tried it, you will undoubtedly want to go out and buy a few brushes, some paper, and some oil. What is so enticing about it is that, not only is it such a predominate feature of the Chinese culture, but it is also really bloody satisfying. It’s an odd feeling, but it has made me want to explore it a little bit more.
If you’re interested in learning about Chinese culture all while getting some valuable work experience, apply here