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!
Hi all, 大家好! My name is James and I’m currently interning in the Chengdu branch of InternChina. Having been on an internship through InternChina in Qingdao I knew I had to return to China. What better way than to work for the company that made my last experience here so enjoyable?
Having experienced the beaches, sunshine and delicious seafood on offer in Qingdao I fancied a different experience this time choosing to head to Chengdu.
Chengdu is one of the largest cities in China with a population of over 14 million. Whilst this may seem daunting, the friendly locals and laidback lifestyle quickly distract from the vastness of this huge metropolis. The city itself is located in the west of China, in Sichuan province, far away from the much-industrialised eastern coast. This allows you access to some fantastic scenery and countryside only a short trip outside of the city. Located near the Tibetan Plateau there is easy access to skiing in the winter and outdoor activities all year round.
The local food in Chengdu is internationally famed for its MaLa麻辣 (spicy and numbing) flavour with many dishes having this delicious spicy kick. The most famous dish being Hot Pot served in a large dish of bubbling spicy broth filled with your choice of vegetables and meats. This dish is to die for! The local delicacies don’t end there with a variety of different noodle dishes to please any palate. Including TianShuiMian 甜水面 (sweet water noodles) and DanDanMian 担担面 (peddler’s noodles) to name a few.
What to see in Chengdu?
With the city of Chengdu spreading far and wide there is so much to feast your eyes on. With towering mega structures like the West Pearl Tower 四川广播电视塔, at over 300m tall. Stunning architecture as seen at DongMen Bridge 东门桥, the postcard picture perfect iconic image of Chengdu. Chengdu is even home to the largest building in the world the New Century Global Centre. There is so much beauty in the structures around the city. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle there are also many parks dotted around including People’s park. Here you can join the locals and relax enjoying a cup of hot tea in one of the cities many teahouses.
Overall the city of Chengdu has an unbelievable amount to offer whether you’re coming for the food, the sights or to escape don’t hesitate.
What are you waiting for? Take a look at some of our opportunities now!
by Nick Goldstein
Two Week PMSA Language and Culture Programme
I’m not a very good writer, but when asked to write a piece on my first two weeks in Zhuhai as part of the PMSA Programme I volunteered. Not only because I want to get better, but because coming here under InternChina’s culture and internship program taught me the value of doing things you are scared of. That’s why I ended up here writing about InternChina’s program, having already wasted the first 60 words.
The first two weeks were packed! My personal highlights were tea making, calligraphy and Tai Chi classes. Although lots of fun, I also learned a lot. Much like learning about the history of your country helps you understand it today, learning about the details of Chinese culture helped me understand the big picture (it’s a really big picture!)
During this time, we visited two companies operating in the free trade zone. In the same way as our cultural activities, learning about the companies taught me not only about the company itself, its processes and operations, but also the way western firms interact with Chinese. I saw two models, although on the surface very similar, in practice very different, and I felt the difference. If I were to set up an operation in China, I know what I would do differently.
Part of the program was two weeks of intensive language classes. 3 hours a day in a room with other kiwis trying to learn Chinese was invaluable, and although my Chinese is not comprehensive, it is enough to make a contribution to the language gap. In China, at least where I am, the effort is more appreciated than required.
The third part of the program was the homestay experience. Make no mistake this was an experience, living with my own family was difficult enough, someone else’s is downright terrifying. Despite this, however, the most valuable aspect of the course was the homestay. Visiting companies and learning about culture is useful, but you only learn so much by teaching. Living in a homestay opened me up to the culture, exposing me to the intricacies.
Examples of what I have learnt are 1. That, at least in my family, no matter how loud your child’s friend is screaming, you don’t tell them off and 2. People really don’t like it when you wear shoes in the house, like REALLY don’t like it!
What I’ve Learnt
Jokes aside, I learned about the details of the culture, and I have made friends that I will take back to New Zealand. Reflecting on the past fortnight I think the most valuable thing I have learnt are soft skills. Cultural appreciation, empathy, an understanding of the Chinese approach, and an ability to work in Chinese culture, as well as, I believe, an improved ability to work with any culture. I think the friends, contacts and memories I have made are all important. Overwhelmingly, however, participating in this program has been mostly beneficial to my appreciation of different cultures, expanding my mindset.
It’s Sunday in Qingdao and the winter months are here, which means only one thing, coffee shops!
Take your book, your laptop, your friends with you and head to the old town where Huangxian Lu lies filled with many niche cafes, museums, crafts and micro breweries.
As an avid supporter (some may say dependent) of the caffeinated drink, I have made it my duty to try a new coffee shop every Sunday.
By Chinese standards this street is ‘hipster’, many young Chinese will dress up for the occasion and ultimately a photo shoot in the colourfully decorated street. Take some time to browse the little shops dotted in between the cafés which sell bits of art décor as well as (you guessed it) old vinyls!
Below are just a few cafes I have stumbled upon, but go and explore yourself and discover your own favourite spot!
The Cat Café.
Address: 48 Daxue Rd
Yes, there are cats! And lots of them too! The coffee and chocolate cake are not bad either. Very cosy set-up with many feline friends to cuddle up too. A great place to go if you’re missing your pet back at home!
The Giraffe Café.
Address: On the Corner of Huangxian Lu/Daxue Lu
The giraffe-patterned pole outside gives it it’s status and has been the subject of many Instagram Posts. Very sweet décor inside, clean and the coffee is good!
The Witch Café.
Next to the Giraffe coffee lies a café filled with lamps, European-style paintings and old-fashioned furniture. The 4 small rooms, 2 up, 2 down decorated with pumpkins and Halloween references, gives the café a charismatic vibe. With free wifi and friendly staff, it is a great place to sit down and work.
The Old Cinema Café.
Address: 14 Huangxian Lu
A little bit bigger than the other cafes which makes it great for social study groups. Otherwise, just take a coffee and enjoy watching the silent films.
There are more than coffee shops around!
The Residence of Lao She.
Address: 12 Huangxian Lu
Lao She, a famous author lived on this street where he wrote some of China’s most famous literature, such as Camel Xiangzi. His house has been opened as a quaint museum and I would recommend having a look (It’s free ;))! The residents of Qingdao are very proud!
YOWO – The Leather Shop.
Address: 35 Huangxian Lu
This is a very cute workshop, where you can learn how to work with leather and make homemade gifts for yourself or family. Really interesting experience especially if you are one for design and crafts.
Strong Ale Works – Brewery.
Address: 12 Daxue Lu
This micro brewery is friendly, cozy, has a lovely ambiance, and most of all, beers are, though not exactly cheap by Chinese standards, amazing! A beer-lover’s must-see!
Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai
We are delighted to be partnered with an organisation that is passionate about what they do. The Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai, also known as CPAZ, work with vulnerable sectors of the community by promoting social activism and public welfare. This is seen across many different projects they operate, including the annual Come Together fundraiser.
CPAZ is an official civil society organisation, and they are currently working on providing sponsorship for students in the local area. This sponsorship helps to provide students who have lost their parents and are struggling to stay in education, with tuition fees, books, and uniforms- all the necessary equipment required for basic education.
The organisation was established in 2005 and legalised as a registered charity in 2010. The charity has both a local and global vision for the future, and now has over 2000 registered volunteers, 250 members, and over 20 member units. With each project, they envision better development of public and social welfare throughout China, which includes assisting the establishment of social equality in Zhuhai.
What InternChina Do
Every year, InternChina help raise money for CPAZ by hosting a bar at the annual Come Together festival. We are partners in the CTC community, and the ultimate goal is to bring people together from all cultures and walks of life to celebrate music! We raise money for great charities with 100% transparency, and we are very proud to be involved with such a brilliant cause!
Congratulations! You have acquired an internship in China! By now, you must have researched all about how to successfully communicate and work with your soon to be Chinese co-workers. Through the research you have gathered, you must have read about “face’’ and “guanxi’’ a lot. Well, here’s a bit more, with tips and advice from two of our partnered companies here in China!
What is Guanxi or Mianzi?
Here is a quick introduction for those that don’t know these two concepts. Guanxi, or “relationships,” is used to describe relationships in their many forms. These can be between friends, families, or businesses.
You can read more about the concept of guanxi from James here, but it is absolutely essential to conducting business and succeeding in China.
Mianzi or “face”, explained here, is so important in Chinese social, political, and business circles that it can literally make or break a deal! It can be translated as “honour”, “reputation” and “respect,” and the concepts are deeply rooted in the Chinese culture.
So how do you achieve Guanxi and Mianzi??
There are a few ways you can better your guanxi and gain some mianzi- read some comments from our partnered companies on how best to do it!
“Be open-minded, curious, and prepared!” – Marketing firm
The lifestyle and the business environment in China is different than it is in the West, so have an open mind for your new lifestyle here in China. You need to try being patient and understanding of your new cultural surroundings and work with potential language barriers.
Ask lots of questions while you are at your internship! Don’t worry about bothering your new co-workers, they want to help you, so ask away!
You should also engage in conversations while you are at social events, such as dinners, with your coworkers- this a great way of building your “guanxi!” However, you should remember to keep your questions reasonable and appropriate for the situation. You don’t want to ask any questions which might embarrass or cause your coworkers to lose face themselves.
Even though you might not know much about China in general, the city you are in, or the language, you can always do a bit of research to show you care enough to learn. This might mean doing some research before you visit, and continuing to ask questions and engage while you are there.
“Offer to buy dinner or go out to eat, and asking for help with and opinions on your work.” – Education company
But this doesn’t need to be anything fancy! Even something simple such as grabbing some nice dumplings or noodles at lunch can do the trick. Spending some quality time with your co-workers will be good for your guanxi and networking, and for your daily working life! If your coworkers ask you out for dinner after a long day of work, take the chance and enjoy a good meal and conversations- you will build your guanxi, mianzi and social circle!
Finally, ask for help when you need it. This is still an internship! You aren’t expected to know everything, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you don’t know something. Asking a colleague will show you are engaged and interested in the work, and they will appreciate sharing their knowledge of the task with you and gain face. It’s as great to earn as it is to give face!
Feeling ready for that internship now? Best of luck and enjoy your time in China!
Don’t have an internship yet? Check out 5 reasons why you should get one in China!
In 2009, the abandoned workshops of Redtory, which once formed the biggest canning factory in China, re-opened as a cultural centre with more than 40 establishments taking over the decaying red brick buildings. Fashion houses, galleries and restaurants replace the Dace and Black Bean Sauce production marking a most significant Guangzhou’s shift from traditional to creative industry.
Redtory in relation to Chinese Contemporary Art Scene.
Not exclusive to Guangzhou, industrial creative districts are a distinguishing feature of the contemporary art scene in China. Shanghai has the infamous, graffiti lined M50 in the old Chunning Club textile mills, Beijing offers high class artwork in 798 Art Zone located in a decommissioned military factory. Almost an instillation themselves, the buildings overcome the threat of destruction through ‘urban renewal’. These aesthetically stimulating structures and buildings are now an integral element of art tourism in China, with Redtory a major contender. The 1950’s soviet brick and equipment line the alleyways for form rather than function, updated with posters or paint as a contemporary refurbishment that explicitly acknowledges Chinese history.
Labelled ‘can street’ or ‘refrigeration street’ fro example, even the signs that direct across the 70,000-square-metre zone reference the past of the site. A popular favorite with young creatives (adorned with necklaces of Nikon camera straps) fashion students shoot their newest lines as hipsters shoot their new We Chat profile photo affront the perfect textured backgrounds. Life imitating art or art imitating life?
Although M50 was bourn from artists searching cheap studio space – that ever familiar tale of gentrification – Redtory is a government funded project. Rather than solely an art gallery, Redtory offers residency programs, lectures and collaborations with the local art institutes. Contrasting the gallery structure of Beijing or Shanghai, Redtory also operates as a functioning work space for engineering offices, product design studios and architecture companies. With many shops and boutiques, it is also slightly more commercialized than M50 or 798 but this too provides an alternative experience.
With its array of industries and low number of somewhat intimidating ‘white cube’ galleries, it avoids any claims of pretentiousness making it a charming day out. Therefor its not surprisingly popular with both Chinese and international art lovers alike.
Redtory 红专厂 Information.
Address. No. 128, Yuancun Si Heng Rd., Tianhe District, Guangzhou, China.
Opening hours. Gallery Mon-Sun 10:30am – 9pm while Redtory Market Saturday and Sunday’s 11:00am – 6pm.
Phone number.+86 20 6631 9930.
I had been Zhuhai Ready for 15 days., and 11 hours 20 minutes later, l can finally say hello! I’m Michelle, Zhuhai’s (珠海) new Business Development, Marketing & Sales Intern, and I am currently a student at Nottingham Trent University. Prior to arrival, l had my doubts on whether I would make it, but despite a few hiccups, InternChina ensured my arrival went untroubled- even arriving out of hours InternChina was still unexpectedly there for me!
Having been raised in a multi-cultural society, I’ve always been keen on seeing the world. I’m interested in how different cultures work together as one team, motivated and influenced by the business sector; with the opportunity of a placement year during university, l genuinely couldn’t have picked a better destination than Zhuhai!
The attitude locals have towards foreigners is determined by the smallest interactions and observations here. China definitely seemed
to be a challenge, and prior to arriving, I became skeptical- which as a pretty normal feeling. Nonetheless, it has been the most rewarding experience yet, and I am 100% looking forward to the rest of my time here and to have IC by my side as I embark on this journey.
Zhuhai so Far
16 days since arriving, I’ve tried some weird and great food, meet some of the most amazing people and I have 100% mastered the transportation systems! It takes getting lost to learn, and I was no doubt lost when l figured this out.
Aim high you’ll be amazed by the view, and 珠海 has some breathtaking views. Opportunities like this don’t come by often; I may get frustrated, shocked and amazed but it is absolutely worth it.