cultural differences

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Cultural, Discover Chinese culture

Goodbye China

Four month already?? Wow time flies by .. I still remember how Paul and Jessica were waiting for me at the airport, my first week in the Office in Chengdu, .. how exciting everything was. All these new impressions of being the first time1 in China.
Although some people believe it is quite hard to settle in China, personally I felt home very fast. Without speaking Chinese, communication can be quite hard sometimes. Here and there it was challenging, but there is always a way around I have learned. Pointing on pictures in a restaurant, using your arms and legs or just get out a small dictionary in the middle of a conversation. It was really exciting and interesting and so many funny moments I won´t forget very soon.

InternChina allowed me to meet so many people from all over the world which made my China experience unforgettable. But other than that, I gained so many insights in the Chinese business world which was very interesting and useful for my future working career. Being aware of intercultural differences is very important nowadays – especially as an International Business Student. Although I was travelling a lot in the past years, I believe that China has the most interesting culture I was able to experience by far . Probably because it is so individual and different compared to the German culture.

A massive THANK YOU to the entire InternChina Team, because you made this experience so unforgettable. It was an amazing time and I would never want to miss it.

IMG_7854 IMG_3470 IMG_3398

Uncategorised

Chinese Valentine´s Day

What´s the first thing which comes into your mind when thinking about Valentine´s day???
LOVE, ROSES, HEARTS, …. Sooooo romantic 🙂

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But what do I have to expect in a very new environment and culture? Well let´s find out together…

Chinese people also celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th of February. So it´s basically the same ritual than in Germany and most other Western Countries. Still, they also have their own traditional day. Qixi Festival or the Seventh Eve is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh Lunar month – which is usually in August. The holiday comes from a traditional old story about a love tragedy that has been passed down from one generation to another.

Listen to this: It´s about the romantic love story of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu. Niu Lang was actually told by a cow, his only friend, to find his way to the beautiful Zhi Nu. The magical cow told him to make his way to the riverside where Zhi Nu (a young fairy) and her six sisters had a bath. He took one of the beautiful silk dresses of the girls and hid behind bushes. When they came out of the water the youngest couldn´t find her dress anymore. Then, Niu Lang came out with her beautiful dress and asked her to stay with him. Several years passed and the two still live happily together. From then on both of them meet on a bridge of magpies every year on the seventh eve. So raise your head, you will find romantic going on in the sky 🙂
Awwwwwww how sweet is that :)! The only question which came into my mind: How can she think that it is nice if a guy steels her clothes????

Anyways, the annual gift giving which is commonly associated with Valentine’s Day doesn’t take place in China. So to all of the foreign Girls which live in China – DO NOT WAIT FOR A ROSE, CHOCOLATE OR ANY OTHER GIFT! This will have a tragic end 🙂

But also in China there are several charming customs associated with this romantic day for lovers. On the Chinese Valentine’s Day, people in love like to go to the temple of Matchmaker and pray for their love and the possible marriage in China. So still there is lots of Love in the air 🙂 And the people which are still single will do the same thing but they will ask for their luck of love in the Matchmaker temple. And maybe they will even find another lonely person right next to them. You never know, right :)!!

Jula 🙂

Magpies
Niu Lang & Zhi Nu

 

Before your stay, How-to Guides, Travel

Cultural Differences: The Wonderful World of Chinese Toilets

After more than three years in China, I found the time has come that I share my carefully developed classification system of Chinese toilets with you. Talking about Chinese toilets can fill whole nights of foreigners in China and I am sure, you will make your own great experiences with them!!!
I asked my friends, colleagues and interns what they would have liked to know before they came to China and many answered me with: What toilets are like in China – it would have been nice to know beforehand what to expect!

There are many online-guides available with well-sounding names like “Mastering the Chinese Toilet” or “Toilets in China – a Survival Guide”.  Even a “Wikihow” about using squat toilets you can find in the world wide web. From the amount of user-friendly guides about using Chinese toilets, you already can guess the significance of this topic for foreigners staying in China!

InternChina - Do's and Don'ts at Chinese Toilets
InternChina – Do’s and Don’ts at Chinese Toilets

For me personally, toilets are part of the exotic experience in another country, and I got quickly used to always carrying my little “survival package” with me when I am in public, in case I need to use a toilet (more about that later).

For now, I want to share my little personal Chinese toilet classification system with you:

For Beginners: “Beginner” toilets don’t look very different from normal Western toilets. They are about the same clean, most likely offer toilet paper and you don’t find any footprints on the toilet seat from people trying to squat on them. A cleaning lady is taking care of the toilets on a regular base. Taps are working, sinks are clean, paper towels available.
Where can you find them? In most cafès, nicer shopping-centers,  international hostels, 3*+  hotels and airports. Our shared apartments and homestays offer Western toilets!

InternChina - Good Advise!
InternChina – Good Advice!

Intermediary:  Generally, the squat toilet is predominant in China, so even in places with Western toilets they might have “squatters” available as well. I don’t understand what people don’t like about them, they are practical and hygienic if well-taken care of. I classify toilets in China as “intermediary”, when  paper towels might be available, sinks are more or less clean and most taps are working.
Where can you find them? Clean squatters you can usually find in shopping centers, fancier restaurants, some night clubs and at the airport. Most Chinese apartments still have squatters.

Advanced: After getting used to the standard squat toilet, the first toilet that I classified as “advanced” for myself was a public toilet: I was lucky for bringing my Survival package with tissues and hand-sanitizer as unfortunately, no toilet-paper was available and the taps on the sinks didn’t work. The cleaning lady was not in sight.
Where can you find them? The average Public Chinese toilet is on this standard. I later found out, that the “advanced” toilet also can be found in many other places such as little street food places or supermarkets.

InternChina - Visiting toilets in China is always an experience
InternChina – Visiting toilets in China is always an experience

Expert: I found three toilets so far, which I classified as toilets for China “experts”:  The first one was in a train station and was basically just a water channel with walls every now and then (actually nice because that way, the flushing will be ensured). The second one was in a rural area at a gas station (on the way to the Great Wall, so there was not much choice): basically just three holes in the ground, no walls in between. And the third one was in an overnight train: A squatter in a tiny little room, moving of course! How is one supposed to squat in a moving train without stepping into the toilet!? You definitely can become a China expert by trying one of these interesting places!
Where can you find them? Mainly in rural or remote areas. Temples, tea-houses or sights often just have very simple facilities.

Now, you know more about the variety of Chinese toilets – but what should you consider when using a Chinese toilet?  

General tips for using a toilet in China:

  • Bring some tissues and hand-sanitizer with you! You never know when you need them! (I always carry them in my little “Survival package”!)
  • The good thing is, that you find toilets everywhere in China, just keep your eyes open for the signs:
    • 卫生间(Wei sheng jian, washroom)
    • 洗手间 (Xishoujian, washroom)
    • 厕所(ce suo, toilet)
    • 女(nü, female)/ 男(nan, male)
    • Please follow the advising signs at most toilets to not throw anything into the toilets – they easily can get blocked.
    • Chinese seem to have a very casual relationship to toilets, please don’t expect the same hygienic standards as in your home-country.
    • Be patient:  It happens quite often, that you can hear Chinese talking on the phone for a long time (on the toilet!) or realize that they are smoking cigarettes on the toilet.
    • Bring a good portion of humor along with you: You can see the craziest things in Chinese toilets… 🙂

 

InternChina - toilet stories
InternChina – toilet stories

I hope, that you enjoyed reading my little toilet advisor and of course you are welcome to comment, share and like it on Social Media!

When you are interested in a China experience, why not start with an internship and a homestay in Qingdao, Zhuhai or Chengdu? Our experiences InternChina staff will advise you which programme is suitable for your needs and interests! Apply now online or send us an e-mail if you have questions! We are looking forward to welcoming you to China soon!

* Source Picture “InternChina – do’s and dont’s at Chinese toilets”: http://humorofchina.com/funny%20pics/toilet1.png

Cultural, Travel

Differences between Chinese and South Korean Culture

During my recent trip to Seoul, South Korea, I was introduced to the Korean part of Asian culture. Although I never expected it, South Korea feels like a totally different world compared to China.
The first thing I noticed when I jumped off my plane is that Korean citizens look a lot more like westerners than the Chinese do. They have a higher nose, lots of them have bigger eyes and unusually western looking chins.  This might be due to the fact that South Korea has the world’s highest rate of cosmetic plastic surgery and this is no secret as it is advertised everywhere in metro and subway stations.

korean plastic surgery
Adverts for Beauty Surgery http://images.gmanews.tv/interactive/korea-dashboard/Seoul%20Metro/images/06.jpg

The second thing I realized was that Korean streets seem to be boringly civilized. After 3 months in China, I am no longer used to cars that stop because I want to cross the road and people watching me weirdly when I try to make eye contact with the drivers or when I start my zig-zag run through the cars to get to the other side of the street.

And believe it or not, Korean people actually stand in line to wait for the bus! If the bus driver feels that the bus will become over crowded, the bus driver will kindly request the other passengers to wait for the next one. In Korea no one would push you or push in to get onto the bus, it was never became full that no one was able to breathe.

korean snow
InternChina – Koreans waiting in line! http://media.oregonlive.com/oregonian/photo/2011/03/9394416-essay.jpg

The third thing is that Korean phrases seem to be endlessly long. Hello, in Chinese “Ni hao”, is “annyeong-hasimnikka” and thank you, in Chinese  “Xie xie” is “kamsahamnida”. You will realize that there are other dialects that exist and make you feel even more confused when they start talking to you.

After this trip, I am really glad to be surrounded by Chinese all the time. In comparison to the length of the phrases, the Korean characters seem to be quite simple and look more like letters of a comic to me. Chinese signs are an art itself with the incredible amount of lines and dots in each character. Since these characters have surrounded me for more than three months now, I think the Korean lettering actually look a little blunt. But nonetheless I guess it is much easier to learn Korean as it uses an alphabet (Hangul) that only consists of 24 consonants and vowels.

 Korean writing
InternChina – Korean writing

Seoul is a great spot for vacation during your time in Qingdao. You can either travel by plane which takes about 1 hour or by ferry, both are amazingly cheap. Here is a cool site which gives you some tips on where to stay in Seoul: https://triphappy.com/seoul/where-to-stay/84746.

The Korean culture was quite easy for me to adapt to. The fact that the people actually love to follow our known rules of behaviour, actually made this trip feel like vacation at home. But after a little while, I realized that I am ready and looking forward to going back to Qingdao. I want a real adventure and I guess this is where China really excels.

Want to find out what kind of adventures China has in store for you? Then Apply Now and see for yourself!

Before your stay

Stereotype & Prejudice – Part 3



Chinese get drunk easily

True or false?
True. Most Chinese can’t really drink a lot without getting drunk, BUT they still like to go out! So if you are (male and) going out with Chinese for dinner, they will make you drink a lot for sure! It is not very polite to refuse a drink offered by your host and Chinese love to ganbei (干杯 – dry cup). But of course you can say that you already had too much, just blame your poor foreign stomach. 😉
For women it is not that bad. Chinese girls normally don’t like to drink, because they get drunk so fast and it’s not ‘appropriate’ for them to be or get drunk.

KTV: Chinese love it!
True or false?
True. Not everybody likes karaoke singing though and going out for KTV is a serious thing in China. And it is also not true that Chinese only worship this Japanese invention and don’t do anything else in the evening. There are quite a lot of bars and clubs in Chinese towns (at least in the bigger ones) and especially young people like to go out for a drink and dance.

Chinese food: The real deal is disgusting
True or false?
False! Chinese food is amazing! There is some stuff you will not be used to eat and if you are not vegetarian like me, you will be surprised to find out that Chinese don’t value meat without bone in it, but in general the Chinese food is a lot better than the “Chinese food” you get in Europe. I also talked to a lot of people who were afraid of using chopsticks. Don’t worry, first: It’s easier than you might think, second: you can get spoons in most restaurants and third: Chinese will be happy to teach you! 😉

by Hanna

Come to China to see if your prejudices about Chinese are true or false! Send an email to info@internchina.com or apply through our website www.internchina.com