A tale of eastern greetings, American cities and European supermarkets
On the dawn of Thursday 16 June, two twenty-year-old English boys approached the Qingdao runway offering prayers to Budda of a pleasant east-Asian sojourn. Upon landing, a welcome party greeted the aeroplane’s weary travellers and showered them with gracious souvenirs, fruits and benevolence to ensure a majestic reception. The esteemed party were surrounded by a locus amoenus: the sun’s rays chased away the retreating darkness, birds sang in an oriental voice and, in the distance, a colourful forest danced as though the breeze was conducting its favourite traditional song. The two boys exchanged a glance of widened eyes at their hospitality and were gently ushered towards a taxi.
Okay, so that’s not quite how I arrived in China, but does provide a metaphor for my excitement at the coming three months!
I’m working for InternChina for the next ten weeks as a marketing, sales and business development intern. Having experienced the British Council’s ‘Study India’ trip last July I wanted to spend this summer developing my understanding of the world economy in another Asian financial and cultural superpower. I chose Qingdao as my desired location as a second-tier city provides insight into a China that isn’t trampled on by thousands of Western-style skyscrapers or blinded by limitless occident travel guides. It may be more of a culture-shock, but the hard-learned lessons will be more numerous and valuable.
I had four free days to explore the city both independently and with other foreign interns before I started work. In my young and humble opinion, lots of parallels can be drawn with American cities. There are numerous skyscrapers, wide roads impossible to cross without our equivalent of a pelican crossing, and you can’t lift a chopstick to your mouth without being exposed to some flamboyant advertising.
However, the most bizarre experience I had was in the French supermarket, Carrefour. In the ‘market’ section, a man was responsible for a pile of live shrimp. When a shrimp attempted a getaway, the man would shout ‘lái! lái! lái!’, meaning ‘come! come! come!’, and put the untoward crustacean back on his stockpile.
Curious cultural differences aside, Qingdao is a splendid place to spend a summer internship and learn about the ‘real China’. I’m excited by the challenges the city has to offer and am looking forward to the lengthy debrief my parents will inevitably put me through when I return home to England in September.
If you want to see a man shouting at some shrimp AND have a rewarding internship at the same time, click here to apply now!