My name is Erika and I come from a small country in Central America called Costa Rica. And I am about to tell you about my journey abroad. So some may have heard of my country, some may have not. But it is safe to say that it is an amazing country. I am basically a Latina with Chinese background, and being Chinese has its perks! So I grew up learning not only Spanish, but also Cantonese, since my father is from Zhongshan and my mother from Hong Kong. At 6 I started learning English.
Growing up learning with basically three languages and seeing the different ways I could express myself, made me realize that I wanted more. So I started learning German. This is how my journey abroad started.
After learning German, I wanted to start studying in Germany. But what could I study there? I wanted to learn more about my parent’s culture and at the same time, get to know my heritage better. So I started studying Asian Studies and Management China in the south of Germany.
Luckily this allowed me to learn an even more complicated language, Chinese. As part of my study program, I have to stay in China for a year to improve my Chinese and later on to do my internship. So I decided to come to Chengdu. I would be lying if I said that pandas didn’t have anything to do with my decision, but obviously Chengdu is more than just pandas!
So…do you know that feeling you get on your first day of school? When you are really excited, but at the same time really nervous? Energetic, but at the same time extremely tired? Well, that was me on my first day in China. Trying to avoid jetlag, I tried to get some sleep on the plane, but wasn’t successful, even after arriving.
So I went from Costa Rica to Germany and finally ended up in Chengdu. My new journey abroad just started.
Since I was enrolled for the Language Program at the University, I started improving my Chinese…or at least I tried to. Chinese can be a difficult language sometimes, but the less shy you are, the more you learn. 加油！
Remember when I said Chengdu is more than just pandas…well, it definitely is! The city is full of life! You definitely won’t get bored. The people here are so welcoming. Even though the Sichuan dialect is difficult to understand, they still try their best to make you feel welcome. We all know that Chinese culture is very diverse, but their food culture is even wider and broader. Food in Sichuan is known for it’s distinctive spicy/numbing flavor, going from dishes like hot pot and chuan chuan to pig’s brain (not that I have tried it).
After six months of improving my broken down Chinese, I am starting my internship at…guess where? InternChina of course! Hoping to meet new people and to learn new things I am starting this new adventure.
Being abroad pushed me to take more chances and helped me learn not only from my failures, but also from the people around me. All I can say is don’t be afraid to try new things and experience a little more in your life.
Join me in this journey and Apply Now!
Over the Chinese New Year period, our interns enjoyed an authentic homestay experience. Calum and Alejandra both left the city to experience a traditional Chinese New Year with their respective homestay families.
Calum’s Homestay CNY Experience in Dali
First off, I must thank my host-family for bringing me along with them for their New Year’s trip to Dali, their generosity regularly astounds me! I struggle to imagine ways they could give me a better experience here in China. Dali sits on the banks of the Erhai Lake, surrounded by mountains. Just a short flight of a little over an hour brought us out of Chengdu, and under the blue skies and sun of Yunnan Province.
Our hotel had a very homely feel, with relatively bare corridors leading to beautifully furnished rooms. The owners were an amiable family of husband, wife, and daughter. Much of the furnishing had been done by the husband, himself a keen carpenter. Each piece of the garden and the house had its own individuality. While there was no clear theme to any of it, somehow, they all came together perfectly to make us feel at home. Meals were all homemade, and I must be honest, I think Yunnan edges out Sichuan for cuisine…
The relatively small size of the business meant that often the hotel owners could accompany us on outings, guiding us through the local countryside. Experiencing Dali’s Old Town was something special. Buildings were an eclectic mix of efficient concrete structure designed to keep cool in the summer. Beautiful traditional Chinese architecture, all gilded with generous amounts of neon. This gave it an almost Vegas-like feel at times, while just two dozen metres back from the main road sat simple farming buildings. Industrious locals all trying to find something unique with which to set themselves apart and earn their living was a pleasure to see. There are some absolute gems hidden away in those streets for those willing to seek them out!
The whole trip was just the right length to shake up my Chengdu routine. Every day discovering a little more of the fountain of different cultures that is China. Perhaps in the future, I will be able to bring my family to see the area and meet the hotel family. Although I could go on for hours about how excellently they treat all their guests, I can tell without a doubt that the pleasure is all theirs!
Alejandra’s Countryside Homestay Experience
Chinese New Year with my host family was quite an experience. It started with a visit to Leshan, my host mum’s hometown. I visited a cousin whom I had met previously and who is kind of a genius with Chinese medicine (yes, I have had quite a few sessions of hot cupping and acupuncture). I went orange picking in Leshan and had an amazing lunch after. Everything is so fresh in the countryside! After lunch, I learnt how to fly cards. First time lucky I managed to fly a card just right and slice through an Aloe Vera plant. The cousin was denting tea cans with every card he flew- I need a lot more practice!
After Leshan, we head off to Guang’an, about 4 hours away from Chengdu, where my host family’s father is from. As a foreigner, you become the town’s talk in a very good way. People want to come say hi and meet you. I spent my evening playing cards, running around racing with the children and playing badminton. Once you are that far away from the city air is so fresh you’re going to want to be out walking all the time.
However, the next day the Winter Olympics were on and we were all a little tired so we decided to spend the day just chilling, except the host grand parents- they never never stop! They are farmers and their cooking is incredible, with everything they cooked grown and picked from their garden. They are so strong, healthy and always very hospitable and smiley. I offered to help but they said guests were not allowed to help. I managed to quickly pick up the plates once or twice after dinner when they weren’t looking (I call that an achievement!)
New Year’s Eve was also spent at home. I thought we’d go out to town and look at lanterns and fireworks but in the countryside, the New Year’s Eve is spent at home with all the family gathered. No disappointment there at all. We had a great time at dinner then… Fireworks concert just before midnight until 6 am. Everyone in the neighbourhood takes turns and fires amazing rounds of fireworks.
After and during the fireworks, we all went upstairs and watched the New Year’s gala on the TV. I understood half of the comedy sketches, but it was good fun watching everyone laugh. There also some dancing, singing and acrobatic performances that were all YUP! ASIAN LEVEL! INSANELY PRECISE. We then called it a night for an early wake-up call.
Chinese New Year!
I had no idea what it would be like but the amount of people that Guang’an had made it look more like a big city than a town. Turns out it is good luck to spend the entire New Year’s day outside your home. I spent the whole day with my host father playing cards and just having a good laugh and banter with his old school friends. I became one of the lads for the day. The town looked like a mix between a children’s fair and a tea house full of Mahjong and card adult players. Then towards night time it was Baijiu and dinner time. Let’s just say I had a really good night’s sleep after such a long day.
Finally, the trip to the countryside made me realise how different traditions are but also how immensely hospitable Chinese people are. The family welcomed me with open arms and were always asking twice if I was okay. Even when you insist you are alright, they always want to make sure you are more than alright and this just shows how giving and kind their character is.
Want to experience a traditional Chinese New Year yourself? Apply Now!
Arriving in a new country, especially if you don’t speak the language, can be very daunting. However, here at InternChina we strive to make sure you settle in and have as easy a first day in China as possible.
We will have asked for your flight details far in advance to make sure we know when you’re arriving. This also means that on the day if there are any alterations to your flight times we can check. This means we can make sure we are at the airport ready for your arrival.
When you’ve passed through all the relevant checks and collected your bags you can expect to see one of our team. They will be holding a sign with your name on in the arrivals lounge. From here you will take a taxi to your apartment with our staff member.
Meeting your flatmates/homestay
After arriving at your accommodation you will be introduced to your new flatmates or homestay family. This is usually the start of a blossoming friendship, they’ll be able to guide you through your first few days and help you settle in.
Usually in a homestay you’ll be greeted with open arms, expect a welcome drink, usually tea, and some snacks!
After dropping your things off at your accommodation our staff member will take you to the nearest police station to register your arrival in China. Whilst this may seem a bit strange it is essential that this is done!
This should take 10-20 minutes and is quite an experience seeing the inner workings of a Chinese police station.
Getting your SIM card
Following your police registration our staff member will take you too sort out a SIM card so you can stay connected whilst here in China. This usually involves going to the nearest phone shop to get a new SIM card. Usually this comes with a pre allocated amount of Data, Minutes and Texts so you can be sure to keep in contact with everyone back home and here in China.
What comes next?
From here you will find out about your orientation and company drop off. Your orientation will usually take place on a Monday morning letting you know a bit more about China and what to expect during your stay.
This will be followed by lunch out with the InternChina Branch Team (somewhere delicious!) who will all be dying to ask loads of questions and answer any questions you may have.
Introduction to your Company
After lunch we will travel with you to your company. To be introduced and taken to the office by a member of the InternChina staff. This usually involves a slightly more formal introduction. Getting to know a bit of what tasks you’ll be getting up to. Introduction to the other members of staff in the office. Then its time to start your internship!
You will also be added to all relevant WeChat groups for making friends and finding out about events organised by the IC team. This could include an event on the weekend of your arrival or an upcoming Thursday dinner!
After sorting your SIM card and police registration you will be able to explore! Whether this is getting to know your flatmates by going out for a meal together, getting to know your host family, or exploring by yourself. With your SIM card and police registration sorted you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve got all you need!
Sound like something you’d like to experience? Sign up now for a life changing internship!