– By Charlie Smith and Adelle Offerman
Arrival in Qingdao
We knew we were coming to China four our internship in the middle of winter… And we knew to bring our warmest of clothes… But there’s not much you can do to prepare a group of Australians for the sub-zero temperatures when they step off a plane in Qingdao!
The Qingdao winter breeze was living up to its name, our fingers were beyond numb, and it wasn’t long before we invested in some gloves.
Despite the temperatures, it was a very warm welcome in the city we would call home for the next five weeks.
We were so lucky to have a lot of help from our friends at InternChina. Without any Chinese language skills, we would have been pretty lost – we wouldn’t have known what to eat, how to order or even how to get around!
They passed on a lot of essential local knowledge – like to look for a red light when hailing a taxi, and the fact you can’t really trust the green man when crossing the road. Some other things we learnt the hard way like most public toilets don’t have toilet paper – safe to say, we now always BYO!
The Internship at REDSTAR
We feel we got really lucky with our internship placement at REDSTAR – a Qingdao-based magazine for expats and visitors to the area. We get to see some of the best spots in the city to write reviews and create content for the magazine. So far, we have had the chance to write articles for the upcoming issue learning about Chinese culture and in particular the upcoming Spring Festival.
Our supervisor has not just been there to oversee our writing, but has also been an incredible tour guide to some of the best local lunch spots, including fried dumplings, Chinese savoury pancakes, and lamb soup. We are so grateful to have had him!
Traditional Hot Pot experience !
One thing we weren’t so sure about was the traditional Hot Pot, which we agreed to try for work. Luckily, we weren’t told what the “delicacies” were until after we had tried it… pig’s esophagus, goose intestines and cow penis were just a few. It was a memorable experience to say the least and we would it is a must try when in Qingdao… We are told you can have less scary delicacies when at the hot pot, which we are looking forward to trying at our next InternChina Thursday dinner (a great way to meet up with other interns and the InternChina team every week).
Conclusion of this experience…
Our work has been busy but has been so diverse that it hasn’t felt like work, and our weekends have been even better with the InternChina sightseeing trips.
So far we have snapped the views, walked the pier and enjoyed the coffee street in the Old City, and hiked the incredibly beautiful Fushan Mountain in the heart of the city.
Qingdao is a city that is growing so quickly, and our first two weeks have gone by so quickly too! We looking forward to telling you about the rest of our internship and adventure in Qingdao!
A little insight into my life in China…
Coming to intern in China was never a daunting prospect for me as I had previously visited China a few times, so it felt almost natural to come back and complete a 3 months’ internship. The only obstacle was trying to persuade my parents to let me travel all the way to Asia on my own again but this time for 3 months rather than a 2-week holiday.
Coming from an Asian background (Afghanistan specifically), one would think it wouldn’t be a huge deal for my parents to accept my decision in wanting to intern in another Asian country. However, knowing I would be living in a city I have never visited before genuinely worried them. I suppose what made them feel comfortable in knowing I was going to be safe was that I would have InternChina to rely on in case I felt in any way unhappy or unsafe. But being in Qingdao, the most dangerous thing I’ve come across these past three months has been trying not to cry whilst eating spicy food. Whereas, if this was London, by 11PM I would question and wonder if I should go home yet so I do not face any dangers that we, women, are constantly told to watch out for. I have had the privilege of travelling to many countries and nowhere makes me feel more safe and protected the way China does.
Culturally, China is not so different from Central Asian countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. We all have a big tea drinking culture. We enjoy sharing our food. We consider family to be our main priority. But most importantly respect and kindness to be shown to visitors. Chinese culture is so rich and pure that it has allowed me to feel at home so far away from home. I would wholeheartedly recommend interning in China, as you learn about a culture first hand and experience a way of living life very differently to your own.
When it comes to the business aspects of China, the culture is very different to the Western and Central Asian way of life. Only that in China, networking is incredibly important and making connections with whomever you can is the norm. Also, their work hours are somewhat longer but more laid back, as they take their time to complete a task rather than work to a deadline.
Being an intern in InternChina has been interesting as I have been given many different responsibilities which would be deemed too high for an intern in the U.K. We are treated more as colleagues than interns which I think is great, not only for our self confidence but knowing we have the ability to perform as well as an employee. It also helps open doors to our futures because being given tasks we would not normally complete allows us to challenge and stimulate our time. Here’s our intern Joe giving us 6 reasons on why we should intern in China (although I could give you many more reasons as to why you should intern here)!
My final words; yolo, come and experience China.
(check out the IC Instagram and you will understand why people consider China to be travel goals)
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!
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).
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!
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!
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!
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.
This really is a tale of two cities.. and two tattoo parlours
In the midst of having a great holiday in China, my dad surprisingly agreed to have his first ever tattoo, in China! I jokingly suggested that he get ‘Made in England’ in Chinese characters and he said OK, and that was that. The next day he was sat in the chair of a tattooist I had spotted in the Taidong district of Qingdao. Now, most tattoo parlours in China are nothing more than a converted apartment… and this was no different.
Hand drawn sketches of tattoos were displayed on the walls alongside family photos and TV guides. We sat in what would have been a family living room whilst my dad got measured up for the ink. The artist gave us a nice choice of fonts for the piece and we chose a tasteful ancient Chinese stamp typeface.
Outlined and ready to go we moved in the dining room and my dad perched himself nervously on an old barbers stool.
What ensued was an hour of buzzing (from the artist) grimacing (from my dad) and spectating (from about a hundred Chinese to see a topless foreigner with a funny face) This tale may be depicting tattoo parlors in China in a bad light, but I must say, the result was perfect! The design was clean and crisply done, the healing process was smooth and the artist was very professional, friendly and helpful. What more can you ask for!
My experience was a little different. I had heard about a Hong Kong Based studio called Tattoo Temple sometime late last year and ended up following them on facebook as their tattoos intrigued me. Early March I decided to up the percentage of ink on my body and get another tattoo. I considered Qingdao, Beijing, Shanghai where many parlours can be found, but none really stood out. So I thought ‘Hey, I’m in Asia… I could just go the extra mile and nip to Hong Kong and get some honoured Tattoo Temple art!
The difference in service was night and day. I was in constant communication with the guys at the Temple and they were unbelievable. I commissioned my artist to paint me an abstract strip of brushed ink strokes and the wait began.
As all tattoos from the temple are one off originals, to protect the artwork I could only see the design in person. So I had to wait until I went to Hong Kong to see it… the months rolled by and my anticipation rose. June came round and it was time to travel. This paragraph will tell you about travelling to Hong Kong and some hostel recommendation, please skip to the next paragraph if you don’t need this info.
I took a flight from Qingdao to Shanghai then to Hong Kong. For a cheap alternative to a direct flight, you can also fly to Suzhou and get to Hong Kong from there. Once in Hong Kong I would recommend walking outside the airport to find the bus ranks for the City Flyer buses. They are cheap, comfy and convenient. They will take you to anywhere in Hong Kong and usually only cost around 40 HKD. Your alternatives would be the train or a taxi but a taxi will set you back around 300 dollars and wont be much faster than the bus!
I stayed in a hostel called the Comfort Inn in Causeway bay, I would thoroughly recommend this place for basic private rooms or cheap shared dorms. The staff are very friendly, rooms are clean and the bed in the single private was epic. This hostel is also called Hong Kong hostel and its worth checking out both pseudonyms prices before booking. I actually booked 2 days with Comfort inn and 2 days with HK hostel.. and didn’t change rooms. Great websites for finding cheap hostel and hotel deals are bookings.com and agoda.com.
Anyway, after a long day of travelling I popped to the studio to see my design.
The studio was gorgeous, covered in dark wood and drenched in style. The walls littered with hand made calligraphy from the resident artists. I even had to remove my shoes and don slippers to maintain the hygienic atmosphere.
The artist met with me and gave me a selection of hand painted designs to choose from. It’s a strange feeling to go four months without a design, having your own ideas about what it will look like, then being shown 7 images to choose what you will have ingrained forever.
I was like a kid in a candy shop, but luckily one stood out in particular and after a few minor adjustments we were ready to go! I had a good nights rest and in the morning had my ready brek and was raring to go.
This is my third tattoo, sequential to a spine and shoulder tattoo this one was down my ribs…
The pain was impressive.
There were some points near the top where my whole rib-cage vibrated and I had to bite into the pillow. My tattooist (having no tattoos herself) just carried on with a ‘what you whining about’ look in her smiling eyes. 5 hours and many tears later we were done and I was sore.
Tattoo temple has to be the nicest parlour I have ever seen. Everyone has their own private room, ipad, top of the line comfortable chair… in fact, if it wasn’t for the constant searing pain then I would have happily gone to sleep there!
In sum, I fully believe that if you’re going to have something for the rest of your life, its totally worth paying the extra money to have a top quality artist at a top quality studio. If you’re in Asia then I would wager that you won’t find better than the people at Tattoo Temple in Hong Kong! Just make sure you have enough entries on your visa to get back before you go swanning into Hong Kong!
If you fancy your own Asian tattoo experience, come to China and apply to one of our programmes!
When I decided to do an internship this year and started my research on Google, I was totally overwhelmed with the amount of offers and sites available, and all the different requirements and prerequisites. It was all too much for me.
Hence, I thought about looking to an agency to lighten my workload.
Certainly, I was as doubtful and sceptical as you probably are right now.
But I’d like to clear up some of these doubts and demonstrate why going through an agency is actually quite a positive experience.
Purposeful Placements due to many years of experience
Professional agencies will check all companies before choosing them as referees.
InternChina, for example, ensures that each company has a fluent English speaker to be available to you right from the start of your internship, as your mentor and to help you with the culture shock. This way you’ll get the most out of your internship, as there will be no language barrier.
A good agency also provides an extensive pool of companies to choose from!
This means a quick placement without any annoying research before. The agency will choose a company based on your profile and preferences, to makes sure that your internship will suit both you and the company.
Have a look at their conditions, as agencies should help you with hurdles like Visa, flight or accommodation. Especially if it’s your first time abroad, this can help take a lot of work off your hands.
You should always ask or check the following things:
– Do they have personal contacts to the companies?
– Does the agency offer customised packages if you would like to change something?
– Do they assist you in preparing the documents for application?
– When do you have to pay the fee? Before or after getting your internship position?
– And finally, and quite importantly: Where is the headquarter placed? Only if it’s in the country (or better, city) of your destination, can they provide you with help whenever you need it.
Compare some agencies and their offers, it should be free for you until you get your desired position. References could help you find out which agency fits you best. And if they offer language classes or other activities besides your internship you can be sure they (mostly) really care about you.
The preferred agency should appeal to you immediately; blogs could help you to get a first insight!
The most important thing about acquiring an internship through an agency, is not to only look at the expenses side, but to think about your time abroad, your experiences, and the security an agency will provide you!
Today I would like to talk about a few inventions that are so old that we don’t really think about where they came from, but in case anyone was wondering, they came from China!
Fireworks & Gunpowder
Two really great inventions that were thought of by the Chinese are fireworks and gunpowder. Even though a lot of people might think that it is an American invention, it was the Chinese who used explosives for the first time. Legends tell that a cook discovered by accident the ingredients for the black powder and soon after the Chinese were entertaining themselves with beautiful displays at night time.
Guess what they also invented… noodles! I am sure that the first country that pops into your mind in connection with the invention of pasta is Italy, but actually it is China. The Chinese have been eating noodles for four thousand years. When European explorers came to Asia they learned the delicious and nutritious value of noodles during their encounters with the Chinese. The Chinese invented rice noodles, when the explorers came back to Europe they made noodles out of wheat flour instead of rice, creating the pasta most of us know today.
Writing, Paper, and the Printed Word
Probably the most important invention made by the Chinese was writing. In 1700 BC, symbols were carved on oracle bones in China, today these are thought to be the first true writing.
Along with the writing, the Chinese were at the forefront of developing the printed word. As far back as 105 A.D., Ts’ai Lun invented the process of manufacturing paper, therefore the first use of paper was also in China. The paper was superior in quality to the baked clay, papyrus and parchment used in other parts of the world.
The first printed newspaper, in form of a woodblock printing, was available in Beijing in 700 A.D.
The magnetic compass is also a very helpful tool the Chinese have invented. As early as 500 BC, Chinese scientists had studied and learned much about magnetism in nature. They used this information to create navigational compasses which were widely used on Chinese ships, enabling them to navigate without stars in view.
No one knows for certain where the kite originated, but many believe it was invented in China a couple thousand years ago. Many credit the Chinese with the kite because they had bamboo to build the frame and silk to make the sail and flying line. Both materials were strong enough and light enough to fly. There are many legends about the origins of the kite. One suggests the idea came to a Chinese farmer who tied a string to his hat to keep it from blowing away. Today you can see kites all over the world.
And here are some other funny Chinese inventions:
Today I would like to give you a little insight about the German History of Qingdao. The reason, why I wrote this blog is, because a lot of people always ask me about the city´s exciting history, therefore I started a research for our Internchina interns and I would like to show you my results!
In 1914 the First World War broke out!
The Japanese wanted to continue to hold Qingdao for the remainder of the German lease and Chinese government then yielded to Japanese pressure. In 1938 Japan re-occupied with its plans of territorial expansion onto China´s coast, which lasted to 1945. Since the inauguration of China´s open-door policy to foreign trade and investment, western Qingdao developed quickly as a port city. Now it is the headquarters of the Chinese navy´s northern fleet.
The German occupation influenced Qingdao a lot, which used to be a small fishing village. Upon gaining control of the area the Germans equipped the poor place with wide streets, solid housing areas, government buildings and a rarity in large parts of Asia as that time and later. The area had the highest school density and the highest per capita student enrollment in all of China.
Commercial interest established the Germania Brewery in 1903, which later became the world-famous Qingdao Brewery. Also the Germans left a distinct mark on Qingdao´s architecture inevitably during the colonial period that can still be seen in its historic center and train station. Qingdao´s Old Town located in the German concession area is rich in European buildings. The mixture of historical sites and attractions in the old Qingdao city indicates the city´s diverse international cultures.