Discover Chinese culture

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Discover Chinese culture

Best Chance to Discover China: Join the InternChina Team!

It’s now time for me to leave the InternChina team after a 6 month internship in the Qingdao office. It seemed like thanking the team for the amazing time I had will be a nice topic for my “goodbye blog”. However I’ll try to show you that you should definitely consider doing your internship there as well!

First of all, are you passionate about China and want to learn more about how to do business there? Also, the internship of your dreams is one where you’ll have plenty of responsibilities and support? Finally, are you ready to learn more about yourself and your abilities? Well, if yes you should definitely keep reading! But first, enjoy a few pictures of the Qingdao team!

Business in China

When I first arrived in the InternChina team I was asked to choose what I wanted to focus on during my internship. As I wanted to learn more about business  and marketing I became a Business Development and Marketing Intern. Indeed. as part of our job here we need to find new partner companies who are seeking foreign interns. First of all, you’ll need to learn and understand to concept of face and guanxi. Then you definitely will always address companies as you should in China. As a result I was even able to assist a meeting with a company all in Chinese and understand it! Thanks to my 8 years of Chinese studies I could understand the language and process of a meeting with a Chinese partner company. Also, it’s definitely a nice way to develop your own network and make connections for the future.

Funny thing about talking to companies here in China: you use WeChat! Emojis and video calls are both easy ways to communicate, and are the keys to a successful and professional relationship! Business in China is full of surprises! Regarding the marketing part of my internship our aim was to promote our services. For example I add to posts on social medias about our activities and internship offers. I even wrote an article about it, check it out! I discovered that Photoshop wasn’t that hard to use and that we could do amazing things with it!

Responsibilities and Support from the InternChina Team

Being a little too shy to use my Chinese and actually go meet companies, I reconsidered my position and wanted to look into another aspect of the company, the one that we call “booking”. It’s basically the process between InternChina and a student who wants to find an internship in China and uses our services to do it. As I am French, I was dealing with French students. They were all dreaming of coming to China and from step 1 to the final details, I helped more than 10 students in a few weeks.  By talking to future interns and helping them find the suitable company and internship for them you really feel so useful and talented when you finally succeed! As part of the Qingdao office you’ll be rewarded with a delicious Tsingtao beer!

During the whole process I was never alone. One thing you should know about InternChina when you join the team, is that you’re joining a big family. We are all connected to each other via Skype even if we are all located in different countries. One of the most important part of our services is to offer support to our participants, well within InternChina you couldn’t find a more supportive team. Even if I was probably annoying at some point – by asking too much – I was always given an answer to my questions and never felt left alone. Let’s meet some of them now!

Learn about yourself

Keep in mind that doing an internship with InternChina is the opportunity of developing the skills you wish for. By that I mean that the diversity of tasks you’ll be given will depends on your own abilities and most of all interests! That’s also a way to push yourself into tasks you wouldn’t imagine to be able to do. I didn’t believe 6 months ago that I would be able to understand and take part in a Chinese meeting. Or to enjoy watching the statistics on our Facebook page and try to find ways improving them! I really enjoyed working in the office – and if you’re not an office person well be aware that you’ll have plenty of occasion to work outside the office as well.

You’ll work within an international team, and that’s one of the best way to learn about communication and culture. With the Chinese staff members I was able to learn more about Chinese culture and develop my interest of it. With my British colleagues I learned a lot of new expressions thanks to our weekly “Quiz” – have you ever heard of Hobnobs before? As between offices we are all using Skype to communicate I developed some communication skills that I didn’t know I had before. Moreover you will also learn how to be more organized and how to prioritize your work – that’s super helpful and not only for your time at InternChina! Let me introduce you to the team you’ll have the opportunity to work with:

Even if the fact to answer the question “what’s your internship like” by saying “my internship is basically to help people find internships” is awesome – doing it is even better! Interested of doing that awesome internship, or come to China with our programmes, apply now !

Chinese Festivals, Discover Chinese culture

春节 – The Chinese New Year & The Year of the Dog

春节 (the Spring Festival)or the 农历新年 (the Lunar New Year) is fast approaching! The new year of the dog begins Friday the 16th of February, with the first new moon of the year.  The holiday can fall between the 21st of January and the 20th of February. People start to celebrate the day before the New Year and continue until the 15th day – the Lantern Festival. This year the Lantern festival takes places on the 2nd of March, when people will release red Lanterns to symbolise letting go of the past and moving on into the new year!

Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 animals; similar to the 12 Western Zodiacs, however each Zodiac represents a year as opposed to a month. This passes in cycles with each year also being associated with an element. 2018 will be the year of the Earth dog, which is the 11th animal in the 12-year cycle.

Your Birth Year ‘本命年’:

The year you are born in decides your zodiac and you won’t be in your zodiac year again for another 12 years! Surprisingly, your zodiac years are the considered the unluckiest in your life and unfortunate events in this year could have lasting effects on you for the rest of your life! So, you are suggested to take extra care to avoid incurring bad luck. Many Chinese people will buy lucky items as talismans, such as red underwear with lucky characters stitched on.

Red underwear laid out in a supermarket for the Chinese new year

There are also lucky numbers, cardinal directions and colours associated with your zodiac.  3, 4 and 9 are lucky for people born in the year of the dog, as are the colours green, red and purple.

The Origins of Chinese New Year

Every year around the new Lunar Year, a mythological beast called Nian was said to come and lay waste to towns and eat people, particularly children. Everyone would hide from the beast until he left. One year an old man appeared and refused to go into hiding, and decided he wanted to get revenge on the Nian. He put red papers up around the door of his house with lucky symbols and set off loud firecrackers. The day after, the villagers discovered that their town wasn’t destroyed. They believed that the old man was in fact a god that came to save them. The villagers then realised that the the colour red and loud noises deterred the beast. Next New Year the villagers hung up red lanterns, wore red clothes, and placed red character scrolls on windows and doors, and they set off firecrackers to frighten away the monster. Ever since, Nian never returned to scare the villagers!

Characters on the Door

You will see Chinese phrases on red scrolls around doorways, such as ‘出入平安’ , meaning peace wherever you go. The most common character is ‘福’ Fú  which means fortune or luck. It is often placed in the centre of the door to ones home, and sometimes you will see that the character has been placed upside down. This is because by placing it upside down there is an added meaning to the character:

Homonyms are common in Chinese language. The Chinese expression ‘福倒了‘ and ’福到了‘ sound identical, so to have 福 upside down also means to have fortune arrive.

New Years Day Celebrations

On New Years day young family members are given red envelopes called hongbao (‘红包) filled with money, fireworks are set off, dumplings are devoured and relatives are put up with. It is a time when Chinese families reunite, with some people travelling vast distances to see their family. The Spring festival period is host to the largest migration of people on earth, with almost 3 billion journeys being made!

Here are some common greetings to say on the New year:

A description of Chinese New Year Greetings

Taboos to avoid doing on the first day of the festival:

  1. Debt: You should not lend money on the day, and debts should be paid before New Year’s Eve.
  2. Washing hair: you’ll wash away your wealth for the year.
  3. Sharp objects: if you cut yourself it is extremely unlucky.
  4. Sweeping and cleaning: If you sweep up then your wealth will be swept away.
  5. Theft: If someone steals from you then your wealth for the year will be ‘stolen.’
  6. Killing anything: Similar to sharp objects, anything associated with blood is very bad luck.
  7. Taking Medicine: you’ll be ill all year.
  8. Monochrome clothing: White and black are the colours associated with sorrow in China.
  9. Giving specific types of gifts: scissors, clocks, or anything with the number 4 (it sounds like death 死) and shoes (they sound like evil!)

Have a happy New Year and remember, watch out for evil shoes!

Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China, Things To Do in Zhuhai, Zhuhai Blogs

PMSA New Zealand – Zhuhai Cultural Programme

by Nick Goldstein  

Two Week PMSA Language and Culture Programme

PMSA zhuahi

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.

Language Classes

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.

Homestay Experience

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!

homestay

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.

All You Need to Know, Discover Chinese culture, Events in Qingdao, Learn about China, Qingdao Blogs, Qingdao InternChina Events, Things To Do in Qingdao, Weekend Trips

More Than Just an Internship – What We Do in Qingdao!

InternChina – More than just an internship!

But what does this really mean in Qingdao? It means weekly dinners, activities and 24/7 support!

I’ve been an office intern for about 3 months now, so I hope I can explain this for you!

During your programme, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to do an internship in China, but that’s not the only think you’ll experience during your time in Qingdao! The InternChina team will organise lots of dinners and activities for you. This is so we can get to know you better, make you feel comfortable in this new country, and give you a chance to meet amazing people! And if you love travelling, there are plenty of great destinations we can help you visit that aren’t too far from Qingdao!

As a Qingdao office intern, I have the opportunity to organise the dinners and trips for our participants. I’ll tell you more about it, so you’ll have an idea of the amazing things you may get the chance to do, and you can discover more about Qingdao.

If you have anything you want to do around Qingdao, just let a member of InternChina know and we can try our best to organise this for you!

Food

Every week we organise one of our famous “Thursday Dinners.”

This is a social event, to share a group meal, discover new Asian cuisine and talk about our week! We understand that you are students, so don’t worry- we try to make these dinners affordable! Usually, we try to avoid expensive restaurants, but they are always tasty. We usually stick to a budget of 50RMB per person, and sometimes this is even less.

How do we organise these dinners? Usually we make a post on our official Qingdao InternChina WeChat account, or we post in our IC Qingdao group chat.

We’ll give you some more details about the restaurant, the cuisine, the food, the time and the location of the dinner. If you’re interested in coming along, then simply join the dinner group by scanning the QR code we’ll provide! This helps us know how many people want to come along, so we can book a table. During the summer, we can have more than 30 people for dinner!

But it’s our job to organise this- all you need to do is scan the QR code and join! How easy is that?

Activities

After a week of working hard during your internship, we’re sure you’ll look forward to exploring Qingdao at the weekend! There is so much to do and discover in Qingdao, and we understand that you want to get out there, so we organise lots of activities and trips for you!

We try to organise a new activity every weekend, and just like the dinners, we try to make sure these activities are all affordable so you can take part in as much as you can.

What can Qingdao offer you? There are lots of fun tourist activities,such as the Tsingtao Beer Museum, the TV Tower, the zoo, the aquarium, the Huadong Vineyard. However, we also want to make sure you see the natural beauty in Qingdao! Outdoor activities such as hiking Fushan or Laoshan with our guide Green Tea, bouldering, archery, go karting are always popular, especially during the summer.

We also want you to learn about the Chinese culture while you are here, so we organise cultural activities such as calligraphy classes, Chinese cooking lessons, tea ceremonies, or even Kung Fu lessons!

There are different things to do during different seasons, so you may also get to attend the German Christmas Market, or some opening ceremonies!

You will definitely never be bored, with plenty of activities available for you to explore the city, have fun, and network!

Trips

We also try to organise some weekend trips for you to discover other cities in China.

Recently, we organised a weekend trip to Beijing- after all, it would be a shame to come to China and not visit the Great Wall! In the past we have also organised trips to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Qufu… the possibilities are endless!

For any weekend trips we organise, we will provide you with a detailed schedule so you can make the most of your time in each city! We will also let you know how much each trip will cost, and this will include your transport, accommodation and activities for the weekend. It will cost more than a regular Saturday Event, but it is definitely worth going and exploring more of China!

 

Support

The InternChina team offer you 24/7 support while you are on place, and we are also here for you before and after your time in China!

When you arrive, we will pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your accommodation, whether is an apartment or a homestay. We’ll also give you an orientation to help you understand Chinese culture, and give you some advice about living in Qingdao.

You will receive a welcome pack, which includes a SIM card, travel card, map of the city, and address card and some InternChina goodies!

We are here for you whenever you need us!

Moreover, our team on place is also always here to support you! When you arrive we will give you an orientation, in order to make you understand Chinese culture, and give you lots of advice! If you feel sick, we will come with you to the hospital! If you have any other issues, we are here to help if we can!

InternChina’s Favourite Places 

When you are new to Qingdao, and don’t know where to go or what to see, we’re here to tell you where to go! Below is a list of my favourite places- you can even impress your colleagues with your Qingdao knowledge and invite them along!

Magic Eggplant – or the best Chinese restaurant ever! 美达尔大尧三路店 – Dayao San Road

ChunChuan Iron Plate – best Korean restaurant! 青岛市崂山区苗岭路  瑞纳花园内 Miao Ling Road

Huadong Winery – a beautiful vineyard, where you can visit the museum,the caves and try some wine at the end! 南龙口崂山Nanlong Kou, Lao Shan

ZhongShan Park – an amazing park where you can easily walk around for hours! The zoo is right next to it if you want to see a panda! 市南区文登路28号 Wen Deng Road

I hope these details and pictures convinced you that InternChina has so much more than just an internship to offer you! You’ll never feel alone, and this experience will be unforgettable!

The easiest way to join us is to apply now!

 

Chinese Festivals, Discover Chinese culture, Events in Zhuhai, Learn about China, Things To Do in Zhuhai, Zhuhai Blogs

Art and Culture Zhuhai – Books and Buildings, a review of Beishan Hall

Beishan Hall

Over the highway from the extravagant Huafa Mall and new town’s glass palaces lie the backstreets of old Beishan district, where wooden doors creak and electrical cables drape between buildings like bunting. Hipster noodle bars, cafes and even a tattoo shop seemingly add modern charm to the oldest district in central Zhuhai. Beishan Hall, a cultural institution, stands monumentally affront the labyrinth of streets. Its decaying grey walls mark the transition from new to old, from westernized to gentrified traditional.

The hall’s courtyard is framed with red lanterns and bonsai trees, while the rooms hold lavish costumes, books and art. Over summer especially, the institution boasts a program of shows, concerts and even a yearly Jazz festival launched in 2010.  Consequently, Beishan Hall has become somewhat of a cultural center, with music institutes and art centers set up nearby.

Beishan Hall

On a regular weekend, however, the hall’s art cafe is available to escape both the weather and reality. Along with good quality fresh coffee you can flip through the thick, grainy pages of their exquisite book collection to a soundtrack of calming Chinese music. Adorning the shelves are translations of classics such as Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ or Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’, if your level of Chinese doesn’t quite stretch that far, however, beautiful art books – and a peculiarly high number of photographs of Bob Dylan – are also available. Beishan Hall is therefor a perfect way to spend a slow Sunday morning.

Beishan Hall

Discover Chinese culture, Events in Qingdao, Qingdao Blogs, Qingdao Nightlife

Electronic Underground: UNITT in Qingdao

Picture yourself sitting in a restaurant and overhearing a conversation of two random people sitting next to you. You are bored and alone and so you can’t help but listen. They are right now talking about an underground club they were in yesterday until 3 o´clock in the morning. They are talking about the music they heard, the people they saw, and about the cool location.
You will ask yourself: “why does he mention that?” Two people having a conversation about a night out in an underground club. Nothing remarkable about this!

But as I am describing you this image, I just showed you a small part of it. Like a zoomed-in shot in a movie. Let’s zoom out a little, and suddenly we realise the two people speaking, are Chinese. You will once again say: “Ok, but still why is he telling us this?” There is nothing special about it. So we zoom out a little more and notice we are in a Chinese restaurant in a Chinese city, Qingdao. Suddenly you notice that it is kind of special in any imaginable way.

Music in China

Let us be gentle and say that the underground scene in China is kind of underdeveloped. At least in comparison to the underground subculture in Europe or USA. And regarding electronic music, you don’t usually find a location playing EDM in China. And I don’t mean the type of club where the “DJ” is just some random guy fading one song out and the other in, while hopping around as if he has hurt his foot. You know the kind of guy, wearing his headphone only over one ear, and one hand is constantly waving as if he wants to scare away an imaginary fly that only he can see.

We are talking right now about the real deal. I mean a location where the guy or girl behind the turntables is actually mixing music. A club where you just go to dance and have a good time, and not for showing around the nice outfit you bought yesterday. A club where you’ll find like-minded people all there for the same purpose, gaining mental energy by getting lost of the physical one. All of that, in Qingdao? Of course in Qingdao!

UNITT Qingdao

The location I am talking about is literally an underground club, called: “UNITT”. As far as you can already tell by my plaidoyer for EDM you may not be surprised that I am an electronic music enthusiast. If the location is underground I prefer it even more. I got to know about it and the location from a fellow student.

I went there with her on a Saturday night to check it out. The first encounter is always the most important one. In this case it was magical. You arrive at the given address and first you see… nothing! The club is located in the suburbs of Qingdao, so you will find yourself in front of some closed shops and an entrance to an underground car park near a stadium.

My Experience

My fellow student was pointing at the entrance of the underground car park and told me to listen closely. I heard, very softly, the beat of a rhythm coming from beneath the surface. So, we went into the car park. The sound grew louder and suddenly we were standing in front of the characteristic UNITT sign, a stylized Chinese socket.

Standing in front of the UNITT Qingdao nightclub sign

The sound and the beat was even louder, and I suddenly noticed I was craving the beat. We went through the door, made from a cargo container -door, and suddenly we were inside the music. On that night, I had several “first-times”. First time seeing Chinese people dancing in this particular way, first time seeing people being there only for fun and first time seeing a real DJ in China. The whole location with its painted black walls, the small room with the big DJ-desk and the small lights on the table.

All together with the compatible soundtrack, it was a wonderful experience. I was so happy with that whole night and once again with the decision to come to Qingdao. When I left the club, with all my clothes fully sweated and the beat still inside my body I knew I would return. Qingdao has always the ability to surprise you.

The crowd in UNITT nightclub in Qingdao

Cultural, Discover Chinese culture

Ben’s First Week in Zhuhai

Ben studies International Business and Mandarin at Bryant University Rhode Island. He is taking part in an extensive language and cultural exchange program in Zhuhai with 14 of his peers. Offering homestays and campus living alongside internships and University study, the program provides a fully immersive Chinese experience. When not enjoying downtime with his Chinese family, Ben gets to take part in InternChina activities like ‘wingshun’ or cooking. Moreover, the program also includes trips to Taipei, Beijing and Shanghai to mention but a few to be excited about. Arriving a little later than the rest of the cohort, and during a typhoon no less, Ben tell’s us his first impressions of Zhuhai …

Ben’s Arrival to Zhuhai

When I first arrived in Zhuhai nearly three weeks ago, I was kindly welcomed with a heavy typhoon. I had become fearful for the rest of my five months in China. My host parents held flashlights close to their faces as if telling a scary story, which I continued to think was coming true all around me. But the next morning, with my camera around my neck, I aimlessly roamed the streets of Zhuhai.

With toppled trees, smashed car windshields and trash covering the streets, it was hardly the paradise city I had envisioned. I thought it almost comical to see people in the streets even attempting to clean up the mess of the typhoon. It seemed it would take a lifetime to clear just one street. I was, however, very wrong in my assumption. Just like my mother had said to me growing up, “Many hands make light work”. 

I have never considered myself a “cat person”, but that’s just because of the negative connotation it often comes with. I personally prefer dogs. Dogs are more active, loving and just the superior pet. However, my love for cats deepened after having found two stray kittens crying and whimpering on the side of the road. I frantically ran over and bent down on one knee, waving my hands over them to keep away all of the flies. I rushed them back home and contacted the Intern China staff to ask for their help. Together we took them to the vet and a charity, and they are now growing and healthy.   

 
Just as we nurtured the cats, the people of Zhuhai came together to rebuild the city. I already love Zhuhai. I have met lots of friends from all over the world through InternChina who offer lots of trips and activities. The program is helping sponsor trips to Taipei, Beijing and Shanghai – I can’t wait to bring my camera and explore these places too.
Words and photography by Ben Murphy
Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Events in Qingdao, Food, Qingdao Blogs, Things To Do in Qingdao, Travel

About to graduate and confused?

May 4 Qingdao
May Fourth Square

Nothing is more daunting than the fact you are about to graduate and you have no concrete plans for the future. The questions that arise are; do I carry on with education and do a masters or do I take the plunge into real life by becoming a full time adult and start work as a graduate?? Well, that was my predicament until I came across InternChina. I applied for the marketing & business development position in the Qingdao branch and was offered the 3 months internship (yay!). Interning in China has given me the opportunity to gain great experience whilst figuring out my future plans!

Qingdao Coffee Street

On my arrival, I was picked up from the airport by one of my soon to be colleagues. She was incredibly welcoming and helped me settle in the shared apartment. What I like the most about the apartments in Qingdao is that they are graciously spacious yet have a very cosy vibe to them. My roommates are my fellow colleagues at the IC Qingdao branch, so it was great to be able to meet them outside of the ‘work’ environment. (I did find it rather humorous that each one of us were from a different European country, one Brit, one French and one German… it almost sounds like one of those bar jokes).

Qingdao Cafe
You think the coffee is cute? Wait until you come to Qingdao and check out the cafe’s decor, it looked like something out of Harry potter!

As I had never been to Qingdao before, my roommates took me out and introduced me to fellow individuals who are part of the InternChina programme but are interning at different companies. As we are all connected through InternChina it was very easy to get along and feel comfortable with one another. Plans for the weekend were discussed and I was thrown into the mix and was able to explore Qingdao with them all!

Qingdao Malatang
Ever tried Hotpot? Well this is sort of like that but the non soup version, aka DryPot or as it’s known in China, Malatang!

There are really cool cafes, bars and restaurants in China, so regardless of the city you’re in, you will always be able to find somewhere that is to your liking. The food is cheap and cheerful -some meals will cost you max 3 pounds (I can’t find the pound sign on my macbook sigh). Moreover, you can actually find food that is halal and great for vegetarians!

Essence Trend cafe in Qingdao
Cool cafe called Essence Trend in Qingdao, owned by one of our work colleagues!

Honestly, I have only been here a few days and already I have some ideas on what I wish to do once I get back to the U.K. It also helps to be around people from all over the world as it is a great way to broaden your horizon and learn more. So if you’re currently unsure and undecided, I would wholeheartedly recommend an internship (especially one in China).

To start your own internship adventure in China, apply now!