By Rosa Spence
On the 28th March, myself and four other representatives from the NGO I am interning with, CDNGO06, organised and accompanied farmers from Yunqiao village on an overnight visit to Mao Xian. A district 5 hours north-west of Chengdu and only 40km away from Wuchuan (the place where the earthquake hit in 2008!).
The aim of this visit was to introduce the local farmers from Yunqiao to local Sichuanese Pepper farmers in Mao Xian. These farmers have previously worked closely with WWF to increase sustainable farming of Sichuan pepper. As a result of this collaboration, their Sichuan pepper crops have become organically certified. The farming community has become a co-operative, having received support from Sichuan Rural Credit Union – an initiative established by the People’s Bank of China to provide credit to rural areas in China.
This, in turn, has led to better access to national and global markets. The NGO hopes that the farmers from Yunqiao will be able to learn and adapt some of the techniques, used by Mao Xian farmers, and apply them to their Luo Bo crops (the main crop of Yunqiao) with the aim of increasing quality and production rates.
We left the sleeping city of Chengdu at six o’clock in the morning and traveled in a minibus to Yunqiao village. Two hours north of the City, to pick up the farmers who were coming with us. As we drove for another three hours from Yunqiao to Mao Xian, I was not prepared for the scenery that I was about to witness.
The concrete jungle of Chengdu disappeared and the skyline was replaced with towering mountains, so tall that the peaks were dusted in snow. The cloudiness of Chengdu’s city sphere also dissipated and we basked in bright sunshine and crystal clear blue sky. I think it’s the first time that I have seen cloudless skies and unobstructed sun since I arrived!
Arrival at Mao Xian
On arrival at Mao Xian, the farmers and NGO Staff were taken on a tour and shown how the pepper was produced. The first station was the warehouse, where the pepper granules were stored; next, we were taken to the building where the raw pepper granules were ground down into refined powder and packaged to be sold in the national market. They weren’t kidding when they said it had a kick to it, I tasted a single granule and my tongue went numb for the next 20 minutes!
This farming co-operative has won numerous awards for their work, all of which were displayed proudly on the wall in the meeting room. The meeting between the two communities lasted for over 2 hours, with the NGO workers and the farmers from Yunqiao taking notes about how the Mao Xian farmers’ model worked. My role as the NGO’s photographer was to document the event. The host farming community were really accommodating, with tea being provided throughout and the meeting came to a close in good spirits and a formal photograph was taken.
After the formalities were completed, there was a chance to explore Mao Xian. We were taken to see some beautiful blossom trees, their delicate petals floating in the warm breeze. I got told that these trees and most of the surrounding area had been rebuilt after the area was flattened by the 2008 earthquake. The experience was also very culturally enriching, as the next day we were given the opportunity to observe a Qiang ceremony –an ethnic minority group, with a population of approximately 200,000, located in North Western Sichuan Province.
The ceremony was enchanting, consisting of singing, chanting, dancing, drumming and role play. We were then given a guided tour around an ethnographic museum, where we were told about Qiang history and also got to observe people going about their daily routines – these people still live very traditional lifestyles, making their own clothes and tools. We were fortunate enough to witness two Qiang men forging an iron blade, using two hammers and an anvil, the precision of the technique was mesmerising – clearly, a skill which has been refined over generations!
It has been a fantastic experience, I feel very fortunate to be so included in the work that the NGO is doing for local communities, they are truly committed to helping to create change at a local scale.
Inspired by Rosa’s Experience? Apply Now!
My name is Zachary Black and I am from York in the North of England. Although I pride myself on being Yorkshire born and bred, I have been very fortunate to travel a lot. Having frequently visited South-East Asia as a child, it is safe to say that I have always had an affinity with this part of the world.
My passion for Asian culture led me to my study of Mandarin at Newcastle University along with Spanish, Catalan and Business. As part of my BA at Newcastle, our year abroad was spent at a partner university in China in order to improve our language skills. This proved to be a life-changing 12 months for myself and has in fact led me to being here at InternChina today. Living in Shanghai ignited my passion for the way of life in China and was the driving force behind me studying mandarin for a further year after completing my BA.
After returning home in the summer of 2017, I found myself itching to get back to the middle kingdom and was fortunate enough to secure this fantastic opportunity with InternChina which is only just beginning. Although Chengdu is completely different to Shanghai, there have been a few elements that have pleasantly surprised me – Not just the Pandas !. For example, there is an unparalleled emphasis on the slow-paced rhythm of life here with people just seemingly going with the flow and taking a more ‘laid-back’ approach to life. This is definitely a welcomed release from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, and even the UK sometimes.
My First Impressions
I have been overwhelmed by how friendly people have been here which has helped me settle in my short time here. One further aspect of life here so far which I am enjoying is the food, Chengdu has definitely justified being selected as a global gastronomic site by UNESCO. The juxtaposition of 火锅-‘hotpot’ and 串儿 – ‘anything possible on a stick’ is complimented wonderfully by an array of western restaurants for that occasional change of cusine .
My time in Chengdu has already pushed me out of my comfort zone, yet I am more than committed to welcoming the InternChina participants here to China. I feel lucky to be experiencing life in a fantastic part of the world whilst further improving my mandarin. I can’t wait to see what the next few months hold, so all that is left to say is “加油”－Let’s go !
Interested in Changing your life ? – Apply now !
What is KTV?
KTV/卡拉OK (KalaOK) is a staple of Chinese nightlife. Your Chinese friends and work colleagues may invite you out to what is basically a nightclub to Karaoke. You’ll pay for a room usually for at least a few hours and then you get to sing, drink and dance the night away!
My first KTV
I first went to KTV almost 4 years ago. I had just arrived in Nanjing and was still getting used to the culture shock of living in China, when before I knew what was happening a bunch of us were heading out to a KTV. The experience was intense, it started off with our two Chinese friends each singing a Chinese pop ballad extremely well, which would make most people feel nervous.
Luckily for me this was also my first time trying 白酒 (baijiu) – Chinese rice wine, which took the edge off! Soon we were all mumbling along to the pop songs we knew most of the words to and by the end we were singing full belt to Queen. We left at 5 am, after close to 6 hours of singing. It was one of my fondest memories of my first time in China and since then has become one of my favourite pastimes.
Some people’s Marmite
Love it or hate it KTV, can certainly make or break friendships. Often the first-time can be nerve-racking, and whether you need some liquid courage or just the support of friends, it’s important that everyone feels relaxed and not judged, as at the end of the day 90% of people don’t have golden pipes! You’ll probably discover who is accepting of other people’s music taste and who presses the skip button when they don’t like something. Most importantly you’re not auditioning for The Voice, so the emphasis is on fun!
What to expect
There is a plethora of choice when it comes to KTV. Sometimes it will be a palatial structure full of mirrors and disco lights, or sometimes it is just a simple affair with a cosier feel. Based on how much you are willing to pay you can book a small room or a huge auditorium with a balcony. You pay for the room, so the more of you there are, the cheaper it will be!
They may provide you with drinks and even food for free. There may be instruments such as tambourines and maracas in the room and even a bar and toilet. KTVs will have Western songs, however the choice may vary from just famous pop songs all the way through to a vast collection of classics!
KTVs in Zhuhai
Usually it is helpful to get a Chinese friend to help you book a KTV in advance, so that you don’t get there and find it is fully booked!
Below is a list of some of the best KTVs to visit in Zhuhai:
- GTWO 量贩KTV
- 音乐匣子（Yinyuexiazi）- Music Box
Whether you give a heart rending rendition of your favourite ballad or scream into a microphone as you attempt to make up for your lack of pitch, either way it’s going to be a laugh!
This weekend in Chengdu our interns took a visit to the famous Wenshu Monastery. Upon arrival, the beauty of the buildings stunned us. From the towering peace pagoda to the stunning halls, the architecture amazed us all.
Upon entering the monastery, you notice its layout in the traditional Chinese style. Wenshu is made of 5 south facing halls in a row leading up to the stunning main hall at the far end from the entrance. In classic Chinese style there was maintenance underway including this man precariously perched atop scaffolding on wheels using a jet wash to clean the beams.
Having toured the grounds of the monastery we headed outside to an antiques market. Here we found old communist memorabilia, including the famous little red book, and Mao-ist propaganda amongst other treasures. One vendor was sat outside his shop playing his guitar as his dog kept an eye on the passers by.
After looking around the monastery and the antiques market we headed back towards the temple grounds in search of some food.
The surrounding area to the monastery is home to some of the most famous food in Sichuan. Not ones to miss the opportunity to eat, we jumped in the line of a famous restaurant. The restaurant was packed full with no space to sit. Upon ordering our TianShuiMian (this restaurants famous dish) we managed to find a spot to sit and dug into to this amazing delicacy. Our interns loved the sweet and spicy contrast to these amazing hand made noodles!
After sampling this delight we wanted more and headed to another famous spot near the metro station. As is the case with all well-known eateries in China, this place also had a queue out the front. This time we were queuing for Guo Kui. The menu offered Beef, Pork, Pig’s Snout, Pigs Ear, Noodles and other delights to fill this delightful pastry pocket. I personally chose the pig’s snout, which didn’t disappoint.
Having filled our stomachs with great food and our eyes with fantastic scenery we all headed off. On the way back we stopped by Tianfu Square, right in the middle of the city to snap some pictures and take in our surroundings. All in all a great day out!
Interested in visiting Wenshu Monastery and trying some Sichuan cuisine? Apply now!
Arriving in a totally different country can be confusing more many people, both culturally and professionally. Some difficulties will be there, but after 3 months in China I can say that the first 2 weeks were the richest weeks of discovery and experience!
The difficulties encountered during this period not only allow us to develop our problem-solving skills but also make the experience even more exciting!
Before You Arrive
Of course, to avoid some problems on your arrival, it’s sensible to take some steps before your departure:
- Check the dates of your visa to buy your plane tickets. You must always return to your country at least 2 days before the end of the visa.
- Tell your bank about your departure dates and your destination so that your card does not get blocked once in China, which could be very inconvenient! In addition, do not forget to consult your bank regarding withdrawal limits and payment fees. In China you do not pay with your credit card everywhere, you often have to withdraw. Note: with a Visa card, you can’t withdraw from all bank ATMs China.
- Purchase a VPN. Without this, many Western sites will no longer be accessible and it is difficult to download a VPN in China (without access to Google & Google play!)
- Download Baidu, Baidu Maps and Baidu Translate.
- Check the weather in your chosen city to know what to pack, to avoid suffering from cold/ heat and having to buy clothes once you arrive!
- Tip! If you want to control your expenses, do not hesitate to download a currency converter on your phone.
Your First Two Weeks in China
Remember that any problems or difficulties you encounter in China will always have a solution!
I will now quote some of the “classic” difficulties that you will encounter during your first 2 weeks in China, and explain how to overcome these in a simple way!
Lost on the way to your internship?
- On your first trip to work with one of the InternChina members, take pictures of the bus stop / buildings as a landmark.
- Plan the trip on BaiduMaps. You can find a quick tutorial here!
- Contact InternChina if you are really lost or unsure about your orientation. We are here to help you!
Not sure what to do in the office? Very busy colleagues?
- Do some research on the market, the competition and make a list of the new vocabulary you encounter.
- You can then impress your colleagues and managers with your knowledge and show that you are thirsty to learn and be involved!
- Ask what is expected of you and the tasks you will need perform – the Chinese appreciate and encourage proactivity among their employees
Having problems with the language barrier?
- Explain that you are a little “rusty” in the morning (no coffee yet!).
- Ask them to clearly write their request so that you do not forget.
Do not worry, over time you will learn to understand the different accents of your colleagues!
If English isn’t your first language, are you shy because you are not confident?
- Don’t underestimate your English skills and don’t be discouraged. Your English will gradually improve over time and you will become confident very quickly!
- Remember, youu will not be the only non native-English speaker on the spot!
- Feel free to express your lack of confidence if you want to be reassured.
- Nobody will judge you, on the contrary! People are aware that it is not easy for you to start and that you need time to adapt.
Do you have trouble making yourself understood by taxi drivers?
- Take BaiduMaps (tutorial!) and ask your colleagues a few well-known places in the city.
- Add these places to your BaiduMaps favorites and learn to pronounce them in Chinese!
Believe me, this is a good workout! After 2 or 3 tries, the driver will understand you and you will be on your way to independence!
You do not know where to exchange your foreign currency for RMB?
- Simplest option: do this directly upon your arrival in China (at the airport or port). Currency exchange counters will be present.
- If not, ask one of the members of InternChina, they will know how to answer you for sure.
Some counters offer cheap exchange rates, it is sometimes better to compare before making a choice. For advice, contact our team!
Want to meet new people?
- Whether you live in an apartment or a homestay, don’t hesitate to join our dinners on Thursday evening and our activities or trips on weekends. Find out more about our services in Zhuhai here and Qingdao here.
- The other interns also want to make new friends, so don’t be shy! Add the other IC members on WeChat (Wechat tutorial) and get to know them!
- The outings between trainees are numerous, you’ll have many opportunities!
What to eat at the restaurant?
Going to a restaurant can be intimidating when the local language is unknown to us and we can not read or speak it! Fortunately, there are some useful tips:
- If the menu is written exclusively in Chinese and you can not read it, refer to the images to choose your dish.
- If you want to know what you are eating and are ready to learn some basics, here is a very useful blog on how to read a Chinese menu!
I hope these few tips will help you get a glimpse of what awaits you in China and have reassured you about your potential! With some effort, it’s quite possible to overcome any difficulties you may encounter during your first 2 weeks in China. You will come out of this experience bigger and more independent than ever! And don’t forget, our team is available 24 hours a day to answer any problem!
Ready to embark on the InternChina adventure? Click here!
This weekend our interns got the chance to attend a basketball game here in Chengdu, and experience the CBA firsthand! The Sichuan Blue Whales took on the Tianjin Gold Lions in what ended up a close fought game. In the end, the local Sichuan Blue Whales emerged victorious.
In China, basketball is some what of a religion with hundreds of thousands of fans rushing to any event that an NBA star will attend. This hasn’t gone unnoticed in the US, with teams including multiple stops in China during their pre-season schedule.
About the CBA
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) comprises of 20 teams from all over mainland China. From Xinjiang in the far North West, to Shenzhen in the South East. Each team is allowed a maximum of 2 non-Asian players in their squad, unless they finished in the bottom 5 the previous season, in which case they are allowed a third.
To add further confusion to the rules regarding non- Asian players, teams are only allowed to play non- Asian players for a total of 6 quarters, and only one non- Asian player at a time in the 4th quarter. This means that if a player checks in at all in a quarter that counts as 1 quarter of playing time. Whilst these rules can get confusing, it means that the Chinese players are not crowded out of the league!
Some notable players in the CBA at the minute include BYU sensation and super hot shooter Jimmer Fredette who plays for the Shanghai Sharks. Former Milwaukee Bucks point guard, Brandon Jennings who plays for Shanxi. Argentinian big man, Luis Scola who also plays for Shanxi. Stephon Marbury who has become somewhat of a star here in China, playing for Beijing Ducks. Marbury has even received the keys to the city in Beijing and is the only foreigner to hold a green card.
There is no shortage of talent here in China! When looking at the contracts these players have signed its clear to see why. The minimum salary for a rookie in the NBA is $582,180 and in the CBA is $815,615. Therefore, it may be a sensible choice for lower pick draft players to make the leap to China to work on their craft.
The CBA is growing in popularity here in China. Games tend to attract crowds of 5,000 fans with much more attending the 7 game finals series. Furthermore all games are streamed live online on Tencent attracting a national audience on a nightly basis. Overall the influx of foreign talent alongside the developing national talent makes for a great spectacle. If you get the chance whilst in China be sure to take in a game!
Inspired to come to China? Apply for one of our fantastic internships now!
Written by Sylvia Liu
It’s been a bit over a month now since I first began my internship experience in Chengdu with InternChina, and I can easily say that this experience is definitely one that will be remembered!
Having travelled to many other Chinese cities before, Chengdu is a breath of fresh air; not literally however, but rather in the sense of its pace of life.
Chengdu meanders peacefully through each day; while other cities rush and are filled with spontaneity. That’s not to say Chengdu is less developed economically, quite the contrary! Just as its numerous shopping centres, nightlife and still expanding public transport systems like to prove.
Personally I have found the pace of life charming. I have enjoyed spending my Sundays temple-seeing, sipping tea at monasteries, and nibbling on sunflower seeds while listening to the indistinct chatter of Sichuanese.
Food has also held a prominent role in my time here! You will be hard pressed to find a restaurant who won’t serve at least a bowl of chilli with the famous Sichuan Peppercorns along with your meal.
The old streets of Chengdu, the majority located in the inner South West of the city, are a delight to walk through. There is plenty of opportunity to snack on the delicious street food, while being surrounded by traditional architecture permeating with historical significance.
I believe that there is knowledge that can only be learned from doing an internship in China. In particular cultural proficiency, which is always a handy skill to have even if one does not pursue a career in international business.
Some of the more interesting tasks I’ve done at the company have included researching the potential of incorporating blockchain technology with gaming, as well as game testing for current beta projects.
The employees at the company are all very inclusive, and it is interesting to gain insight into general Chinese organisational culture. The food options available at lunch are an additional highlight of the workday. The local 7-Eleven is frequented often for its lunchtime pick-and-mix boxes!
The people I have met in Chengdu have been the best part of my internship yet. Being able to meet people from all over the world through my internship in Chengdu is something I’m grateful for. I always look forward to spending time with the other interns or going to events organised by InternChina, such as Thursday Dinner, or even weekend activities outside the city.
I can say with no doubt that it is the people I have met here that make this trip the enjoyable experience it has been!
Interested in seeing everything that Sylvia has during her time in Chengdu? Then apply now!
– 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!