You’ve finally handed in that last piece of coursework, those end of term exams are fast approaching (if not already in full swing), and despite promising yourself for the whole year that you’d never do it, you’ve actually waited outside the university library at 7am for the doors to open so you can get the good seat. I’ve been there.
The light at the end of the tunnel might seem as far away as it’ll ever be right now, but before long, it’s all over and you’re left with three months of freedom, a headful of ambition but there’s a good chance you’re still asking yourself the question: What am I going to do with my summer, and how am I going to make it worthwhile? Join your parents for that walking tour of the Pennines? Finally sit down and read all that George Orwell and Emily Bronte that you’ve been meaning to read for the last two years? An internship abroad? (hint hint – it’s the last one!)
So here they are: the six killer reasons why a summer internship abroad is a great way to combine travel with training for the professional world! In short – a solid investment in your future and a fantastic opportunity to make lasting memories!
1 – Gain hands-on experience in the workplace
Joining a company as an intern is a great way to learn how businesses and organisations work in the real world, and not just on paper. This is especially the case for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses, where you get the chance to see first-hand how businesses grow and transition into larger and more mature entreprises. Far from fetching the coffee and making photocopies, interns play a vital role in keeping the cogs of a business turning and if they excel in their position, can have a real impact on the direction of their host company!
2 – Immerse yourself in another culture
More so than if you were simply passing through as a traveller, interns in a country like China have the time to truly immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about what it means to be a citizen of another society. Because you’ll be working alongside them and sharing your day-to-day life with them, you will learn to eat, drink, work and play like a local. There’s no better way to smash your stereotypes about a country than to go there in person and share a hearty cup of baijiu with your coworkers who have lived there their whole lives!
3 – Prepare yourself for a truly globalised world
Interning in a country like China can prepare you in so many ways for the world of the future – you will gain vital work experience, learn how business is conducted in a country that is rapidly becoming the main trade partner of every other country in the world, learn to adapt to quickly changing working environments and function as part of an international team. Moreover, the skills you acquire during your experience interning abroad will make you stand out among your peers and will boost your future employability to no end!
4 – Help to define your career path
You may find that undertaking a summer internship helps you to discover that hidden specialism you never realised you loved! The flexibility of many internships means that you get a chance to try out the various different areas of specialism in one field of work. For example, you could well find that social media marketing really isn’t your jam, but at the same time you discover that you secretly had a burning passion for events management that you would never have known of unless you tried it out during your internship! You will also make countless contacts in your field of internship that could later prove to be a lucrative entry-point into the career path of your dreams!
5 – Learn a new language
It might seem like an intimidating (or nearly impossible!) feat to accomplish in one short summer, but an internship abroad is completely packed with chances for you to learn the basics of the language of your host country! Aside from the option to attend language classes, your coworkers will no doubt be more than happy to teach you some useful phrases to help you get by (or at least the more useful insults), and the value of being able to communicate to colleagues and business partners in their mother tongue cannot be overstated enough!
6 – Come back with some great stories
Last, and certainly not least, completing a summer internship in a country such as China can be a challenging, bewildering, bemusing, enriching and mind-boggling experience all at the same time! You will be interning alongside people from all around the globe with different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives on the world, which makes for a pretty unique summer. You may have to tackle culture shock head-on, but you will no doubt board your plane home with a suitcase full to the brim with lasting memories, heartfelt friendships, and maybe even a cuddly panda keyring stuffed in the bottom.
I don’t know about you, but for me a new year always means a new opportunity to get a fresh start. It gives one a chance to look back at the past 365 days and to reevaluate whether life is going in the right direction.
Especially when it comes to career goals it can even kick-start the motivation again. But in case you don’t know how to make sure your new year is off to a great start, here some tips for you:
Set realistic and trackable goals
In order to set goals you first have to figure out what it is you want to accomplish in the long-run. Once you have done that, you can start breaking your long-term goal into smaller, easier to achieve goals. This does not only enable you to track your progress throughout the entire year – or even years – but also helps to stay motivated.
And here I can speak from experience. I tend to set myself pretty big goals and while trying to accomplish them I often feel I’m moving on the same spot, that my progress is not going fast enough. Big mistake!
So how to break these goals down?
There does not seem to be THE ultimate strategy but depending on whether you’re a free spirit or tend to be super organized, it makes sense to write down an agenda with quarterly goals, monthly goals or even weekly if that’s what drives you forward. Set yourself deadlines so you have dates to focus on and don’t get sluggish after that rush of motivation that pumped through your body at the beginning of the year has worn off. Don’t wait for miracles to happen.
How can such a to-do list look like?
Here is an example from my last exam phase. Exams always come with a surprise, it’s just like Christmas. You technically know you have to have presents for your family and friends on the eve of the 24th of December (or 25th for our British friends) but I could bet most of us rush every year in the shops – maybe even on Christmas day itself – to find some last minute presents.
So exams: the closer you come to exams week, and you still haven’t started studying for them, the more you feel like this is going to be an impossible mountain of information to climb.
You may even downgrade your goal from writing an excellent test to a simple pass… Don’t panic! Break your ultimate goal of “writing good grades” into smaller ones, such as Monday: Chapter 1-3, Tuesday: Chapter 4-6 etc. and you will be able to go motivated through the pile of presentations and books and eventually you will be able to accomplish your goal!
I am just not that kind of person!
All of this may sound like nothing you can see yourself doing. Maybe you think you are too lazy, to unorganized, or you simply don’t want to live off such an agenda, and want to be more flexible and free than that. Well fair enough, you cannot be blamed for that. However, you probably have some sort of goals in your life you find hard to achieve, may they be of a private or career-oriented nature. In that case, write yourself some sticky-notes so you don’t get off track – even without a detailed agenda.
Give yourself a break! No matter what you are trying to achieve, passing your exams, writing a thesis or even starting a business, make sure to reward yourself for small accomplishments. It is impossible to power through from the early morning to the late evening on a daily basis. Have a conscious break! Have a coffee, meet or call a friend, go for a short walk to get some fresh air or anything else that could distract your thoughts for a little while and gives your mind a chance to relax.
Try something new!
If you don’t feel like you have the energy to go through an entire process of finding new goals, breaking them down, working hard every day to achieve them, then try something new! Maybe you just need a change. Explore a new country, do an internship abroad, volunteer, educate yourself about possibilities so start off entirely new! Don’t get stuck in a life you don’t feel comfortable with.
Stay flexible and be open to adapt!
A last tip for a great start of the new year is to be flexible and open-minded for changes in your environment. This is definitely easier said than done. But I’m sure if you made it all the way through this blog and you are ready to pursue new goals, you are fully prepared what 2016 has in store for you!
In case all of this wasn’t motivational speech enough, check out what Shia LaBeouf has to say:
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Tell us a little about yourself/ Tell us about your internship, your position
Overall the guys in the office are pretty like-minded with the interns so they pretty much know what the essentials are for settling into the groove of working here. Also seeing as they’ve been in Zhuhai for a while, they know the best spots for going out, food, drinking etc. which has also been really useful as finding that information can be tough for a non-Chinese speakers.
Every culture has its own unique superstitions (迷信 – mí xìn), and China is no different. Chinese people appear so westernised and modernised at first glance, but they will still seek help from a soothsayer, choose auspicious numbers, or hire a feng shui expert. Well, let’s take a look at some of these, and how they will bring you either good luck or bad luck.When it comes to good luck, the magic number in China is eight. So run into the number eight as much as you can. Business will boom and the cash will roll in! Eight sounds similar to the word for prosperity/wealth (八/發). Do you remember the Beijing Olympics and its grand opening ceremony? It’s no coincidence that the games commenced at 8:08 PM on August 8th, 2008. Starting the games at this time was meant to bring good luck. When people choose telephone numbers, mobile numbers, house numbers, car identification numbers and important dates, 8 is usually the first choice.
As far as good luck goes, it doesn’t get much better than the colour red in China. It represents happiness and is the colour of the national flag. During weddings or festivals, you’ll see the colour red everywhere you go.
In comparison the number four is extremely unlucky. It sounds similar to the Chinese word for death (四 – sì/ 死 – sǐ). Therefore, many people choose to avoid the number four. It will bring misfortune to you. It’s not uncommon to see 4th floor buttons in elevators skipped.
When giving gifts in China, never give someone a clock. This is due to the fact that “giving a clock” sounds similar to “ to bid farewell to someone on their deathbed”. So giving someone a clock basically means you’re sending them off to the great beyond.
If you should find yourself eating in a Chinese restaurant, and you get too full, don’t you dare stick your chopsticks into your rice straight down. It resembles the incense that family members burn to mourn a dead relative.
When it comes to ancient Chinese beliefs and superstitions, we can’t forget about feng shui. Chinese take it very seriously, and one’s home or office needs to be arranged in the correct manner to gain happiness and success in life.
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While living in China you will unknowingly pick up some of their habits and customs. The first thing I want to mention is you should be aware of how you can count using your fingers. I think it’s very convenient to use the Chinese way of counting. For example when showing the number 6: It feels much easier to make a telephone shape with one’s hand, than to use both hands for just one number. Once, I wanted to buy two bottles of water and because I was used to counting ”western style”, I ended up with 8 bottles!
One other funny thing is that Chinese people like to hang their bed sheets outside in the sun, on a dirty handrail right above a busy road! At first I thought they were drying them out, but since then I’ve learned that they believe you can smell the sun on the bed sheets; that it smells fabulous even if its hung by a dirty street. And they’re right!
And don’t forget the Bus Station Running Race! When it’s time to get home after work I usually take the bus. But it’s not like you can relax on your way home. First you have to run after your bus because you don’t really know where it will stop. While you are running in one direction with your many rivals, other people will bump into you, only to find out your bust just stopped behind you. After a few chases I learned approximately where my bus is going to stop and I wait there patiently while Chinese people run back and forth.
And when you finally made it and the bus stops, that’s when the elbowing starts. Chinese people don’t usually stand in line, so you have to “fight” your way into the bus, not letting anyone rush before you. At the beginning I felt like I was being pushed left and right and I had to try and balance myself to get into the bus. But after a short while you will get used to it. The Chinese habit of ignoring strangers around you can be really convenient some times.
The strangest thing is, I really like that you can sleep everywhere you want! It might be on the train, bus, street, car, fence, anywhere is fine! Nobody cares and it’s quite normal to see. You’ll get used to it in no time and you’ll learn to doze off while standing inside the train or bus.
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Qingdao has a history of more than 120 years, and the museum is as a great place to learn more about the history of the city. As last week’s InternChina event, we decided to visit Qingdao Municipal Museum.
The museum has exhibitions about several different aspects of Qingdao, and the themes of these exhibition includes Qingdao local history, ancient coins, ceramics in Ming and Qing dynasties and Qingdao local folk customs.
We started with the history of Qingdao exhibition. Although Qingdao city has only existed for about 120 years, there were some people who lived in this area around 6000 years ago. Unearthed vessels and tools were exhibited to display how ancient people lived their lives. There are some collections of models that shows the historical stories vividly, for example, the wars that occurred in Qingdao and the scenery in Qingdao hundreds of years ago.
Afterwards, we continued our visit with the coins and ceramics exhibitions. The oldest ‘coin’ on the exhibition looked like a knife with a hole at one end, people used the hole to collect and carry the coins on strings. Also, there were lots of ceramics there. They were made in different dynasties, and therefore styles and techniques used were totally different.
After that, we experienced a traditional folk custom called woodcut painting. This kind of painting is mainly made for Chinese New Year celebration. Traditionally, the paintings are about characters in Chinese myths. They are believed to be able to protect or attract fortunes for the family. To make this kind of painting, the wood should be cut into moulds according to the picture you want to paint. The mould is then coloured and used to print the picture onto paper. In the museum, they had some moulds already and we just did the painting part by ourselves. We followed the steps taught by the ‘teacher’ in the museum; eventually, we made our own pictures successfully.
We experienced lots of ancient Chinese stuff during this visit and it was a great opportunity to get ‘closer’ to Qingdao.
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Last Friday, for our weekly event, interns in Qingdao watched Peking Opera at the Qingdao Grand Theatre. Actually, for me, although a Chinese from Qingdao, it was my first time to watch live Peking Opera, and it was special.
Peking Opera, also known as Beijing Opera, is called 京剧(jing ju) in Chinese. It is a traditional Chinese theatre and has a history of more than 200 years. It is an art form that combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. The works of Peking Opera are mainly based on Chinese history and folklore.
The performance we watched that night was called ‘遇皇后打龙袍’, literally meaning meeting the queen and hitting the dragon robe. The story is from a Chinese classic literature. Bao Zheng is one of the most well-known ancient Chinese government offical in the history, and he met an old lady on his way back to Beijing. The old lady claimed herself as the mother of the emperor and had been set up by others. After verifying the old lady was the queen, Bao helped her to get back to Beijing and she blamed the emperor for all the misery she suffered. She ordered Bao to punish the emperor and Bao hit the dragon robe instead of hiting the emperor to save himself from being punished.
When the opera started, we were amazed by the unique sound made by the musical instruments, as they are quite different from what we heard from an orchestra. The songs have much more variations with stronger beats. They were in perfect cooperation with the singing of the players. Also the costumes the players wore were gorgeous as they have several colours and pattern on each one of them. The players also ‘told’ the story by their movement, for example, a walk around the stage would mean they took a long trip to somewhere. Even though it was kind of hard for us to get used to the music and to follow the story, we are glad that we decided to join the event!
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When you live in Qingdao, you may find the people, especially some senior citizens, speak a ‘different language’ from Mandarin, and that is the dialect of Qingdao. For example, when you go out for dinner with your friend who is a Qingdaoren, he or she would make a toast with the word ‘哈 (ha)’. Well, it means ‘drink’ in Qingdao, different from the word ‘喝 (he)’ in Mandarin.
Dialect in Qingdao is relatively complicated, as it is a mixture of several dialects around Qingdao. Meanwhile, there are even some differences between districts that are close to each other. However, people here can still communicate without difficulties.
Here are some words that are only used in Qingdao and you can use them in your daily life.
In Mandarin, boys and girls are called 小男孩 (xiao nan hai) and 小女孩 (xiao nü hai) respectively. While boys are called ‘小扫儿 (xiao sao er)’ and girls are called ‘小嫚儿 (xiao man er)’ in Qingdao dialect. The word ‘小嫚儿’ was introduced from German word ‘dame’, which means lady, as Qingdao has a close relationship with Germany. Another word from German is 古力 (gu li), “Gulli” in German, which is the word for drain cover.
When something is broken, in Mandarin it is 损坏(sun huai), but in Qingdao you can say it is 踢蹬 (ti deng) What is more, if you want to have it repaired, you can say I want it 修理 (xiu li) in Mandarin, or 扎箍 (zha gu) in Qingdao dialect instead. So next time, if you have something broken in your apartment and want to get someone repair it, you can try using these two words.
Another phrase of dialect that may interest you would be 哈啤酒, 吃嘎啦 (ha pi jiu, chi ga la). In Mandarin it is 喝啤酒, 吃蛤蜊 (he pi jiu, chi ge li), and it means drinking beer and eating clam. Qingdao is famous for Tsingtao beer and the seafood clam. You can see lots of people drink beer and eat seafood in the restaurant, especially in the summer. When going to restaurant in Qingdao, you would hear the phrase all around. Now you can give it a try to order it in perfect Qingdao dialect during your time in China.
If you would like to learn more about the Qingdao dialect, apply for an internship now!