At the time of writing this blog, I have been in Chengdu for just five days. This is my third day as an intern in the InternChina office but I am already getting into the swing of life here. Having spent my year abroad as part of my degree studying at a university in Taiwan, I was eager to get a taste of living and working in mainland China. Chengdu appealed to me as it is a more manageable size and less international than the huge metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai, but still with lots to explore within the city and surrounding areas!
I chose to start my time in Chengdu staying in a homestay with a family and their seven-year-old son. While living in Taiwan and briefly travelling in China certainly broadened my understanding of certain aspects of Chinese culture and life, I had not developed an insight into Chinese family and home life. My family have been extremely hospitable and gone out of their way to help me get accustomed to life in Chengdu. Even in this short time, I have got an insight into their daily routine, met their family and colleagues, and tried a huge variety of delicious home-cooked meals. In Taiwan, I found that it was easy to learn what you liked on the menu and then stick with what you knew to avoid translating the menu every time. However staying with a family has led me to try new dishes, fruits and vegetables almost every meal, including foods that I would not usually have ordered myself, such as 美蛙鱼头火锅 (frog and fish head hotpot)!
Difference and Similarities to the UK
Whilst there are many similarities between family life in the UK and China, there are also some striking differences, most noticeably the pressure on young children to study. However, what particularly surprised me on my arrival, is that my family also have an 18-month-old son who is being raised by his grandparents almost 3000km away from Chengdu until he is old enough to attend kindergarten. While I had read about the phenomenon of parents living in urban areas sending their children back to their hometown to be raised by other family members, I had not grasped how common this was among Chinese families. Only seeing your parents once or twice during your first few years of life seems almost incomprehensible to me, and 3000km away from my hometown of London would mean crossing multiple countries ending up in Turkey, for example. However, the pressures of Chinese working life and the lack of affordable childcare options in urban areas, mean that this is a necessity for millions of Chinese parents who have to instead make do with video calling their child.
Communicating in Chengdu
Although I have been studying Mandarin for over four years, the language barrier with my family can still be a challenge. While I generally understand what is being said on a one-to-one basis, group conversations at mealtimes are definitely more difficult, especially with my host dad often switching into Sichuan dialect! However, I am definitely becoming more confident to say to the family when I don’t understand, and, with the help of Pleco (a Chinese dictionary app), I am learning lots of new words and phrases so, as is said in Chinese, 慢慢来 (it will come slowly)!
By now, you’ve almost certainly heard that InternChina have started offering yearlong internship placements in Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei. You might have even started the application process already! In either case, before you set off on your adventure to this East Asian hub of culture, business and trade, it’s vital to get the answers to a few important questions: is Taipei expensive? What are my average living costs? Will I be able to afford a penthouse in Taipei 101? (Spoiler – probably not!)
The good news for you is, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you budget for living in Taipei, along with some need-to-know money saving tips.
It’s important to bear in mind that Taiwan’s currency is not the same as in Mainland China, and that prices aren’t the same either. Interns can expect to eat out at an inexpensive restaurant in Taipei for around 100-120 NTD per meal, and around 200-350 NTD when they really want to splurge! Like in many capital cities, going out for drinks at a bar can be quite expensive, with a bottle of imported beer or glass of wine costing around 150-200 NTD, and cocktails generally starting at 250 NTD.
Getting confused by all these numbers? The current exchange rates for the NTD (National Taiwan Dollar) are as follows:
£1 GBP = 40 NTD
€1 EURO = 35 NTD
$ 1 CAD = 23 NTD
*Exchange rates as of 01/09/2018. To follow any changes, click here.
How much can I expect to spend per week/month?
Not everyone will have the same budget or spending habits. Some of you may be living on a shoestring, others more willing to spend money on home comforts, while some of you may simply find that once you land in Taipei, you just cannot resist going on weekly trips to Beitou Hot Springs or a cup of bubble tea every morning. Read on to see which budget is right for you!
Low Budget for those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new things:
Middle Budget for those who treat themselves to weekly nights out, often come on trips and perhaps buy more western foods:
High Budget for those who aren’t afraid to spend more on cocktail bars, frequent taxis and other luxury items:
Bear in mind that the figures above are all estimates, and the amount each intern spends will vary depending on their personal requirements. It might be reassuring to know, however, that medical care in Taiwan is incredibly cheap – with an ARC (Alien Resident Card), you can see a doctor or dentist for just 150 NTD!
Money Saving Tips !
Maybe you’re saving up for that trip to Taroko National Park, making sure you can afford the flight home, or maybe you just need to cut back after one too many trips to the spa. Whatever the case, it can be useful to know where you can draw in the expenditures and save a few extra pennies:
1. Buy a bicycle! For interns living and working in a city as flat and compact as Taipei, the value of having a bike cannot be overstated enough. When you could spend upwards of 1400 NTD per month on metro and bus rides, buying a bicycle early on (used ones can be bought for just 1000 NTD) is a solid investment that will save you loads in the long run.
2. Alternatively, if you don’t want to commit to buying your own bike, or simply don’t have the space to store it, Taipei’s YouBike rental bicycles cost just 10 NTD for every 30 minutes. With a sprawling network of bicycle parking stations spread across the city and close to all the major tourist sites and metro stops, YouBikes are a great, low-cost way to get around.
3. Become acquainted with the 便當 biàndāng (literally ‘lunchbox’)! Don’t let its simplicity fool you, this meal of rice, four vegetables and one portion of meat or fish of your choice is served up canteen-style and is great for filling up at a reasonable price! Classic vegetable options include fried aubergine (茄子 qiézi), dried tofu (豆乾 dòugān) and egg-fried tomato (番茄炒蛋 fānqié chǎodàn), and you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of 60 to 80 NTD. For an extra discount, bring your own reusable lunchbox and the cooks typically give you another portion for free (Plus, you can earn some environmental points at the same time)!
Well, we hope this guide has proved useful! Taipei is a fast-paced, dynamic and multicultural city that rewards those who choose to settle down longer than the average traveller. A new culinary delight can be discovered daily on Taipei’s street corners and there are enough creative, trendy boutiques to satisfy any seasoned shopper, but with any luck, using the guidelines we’ve laid out here, you won’t go breaking the bank just yet.
To discover more about InternChina’s exciting new programme in Taipei, click here.
For more information about life in Taiwan’s bustling capital city, click here.
On May 8th 2018 more than 30 representatives from CPAZ, CTC & InternChina visited the Pingsha Experimental Primary School to distribute funds raised at the Come Together Charity Music Festival 2017 and provide care packs to a total of 50 disadvantaged students.
The bursary money totalled 82,500 RMB, meaning over 1500 RMB was raised for each child in need!
This is CPAZ’s 12th year in a row working with families to support the education of those in need in Pingsha, and the 5th year that the CTC – Come Together Charity Music Festival has raised money for CPAZ’s mission. The day started when representatives of CTC and CPAZ distributed a total of 82,500 RMB to 50 local children in need.
The bursary for each child was 1,500 RMB, along with a care package which including a backpack and school supplies. Afterwards, representatives split into groups to visit some of the families who receive the bursary.
Come Together Community
Come Together Community (CTC) is made up of a collection of like-minded fellows who care about the community, helping out, and making a difference. The founders of CTC have collectively lived in Zhuhai and China for over 40 years, and consider Zhuhai home.
InternChina is a proud sponsor of CTC, and also one of the official organisers of CTC’s annual charity music festival each year, Come Together. The aim of the NGO is to help people in Zhuhai by uniting the expat and local communities to fundraise for charitable causes and local philanthropies.
Come Together Music Festival
In November 2017, the 6th annual Come Together Charity Music Festival was held. It was an extremely successful event, with a total of 900+ people attending and raising a total of 255,000 RMB. The event has volunteers, bands and sponsor work alongside food and beverage vendors, the schools, the venue and more local groups to raise money for local children in need.
As CTC firmly believes transparency is of utmost importance, you can view all the income and expenses of the Come Together Music Festival 2017 here to see how they got the total amount of 255,000 RMB.
The Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai (CPAZ) is a registered CSO (Civil Society Organisation) in China. They work to promote social activism and public welfare with the aim of providing compassionate assistance to vulnerable sectors of society. They operate a range of projects with the aim of helping financially destitute, disadvantaged people and particularly young students living as orphans or with single parents.
Want to experience charity events like these yourself? APPLY NOW!
When I was asked by one of our NGO partner companies here in Chengdu to join them on a company trip to Yunqiao village accompanying one of our participants, I became very excited. This NGO are a non-profit Community Service Organisation approved by the Chengdu Civil Affairs. Their mission is to “improve ecosystems by working directly with communities to achieve sustainable development and the construction of an ecological civilization” – the organisation offer internship opportunity CDNGO06.
I was accompanying InternChina participant Rosa on the trip to Yunqiao Village, during the entirety of the trip I was discussing with Rosa about her stay in China and her internship with the NGO. Rosa has been here for about 6 weeks and is half way through her programme; her official role at the company is Ecological Marketing Associate.
Rosa is in charge of writing promotional material and placing volunteer activities on record but she has been involved with a lot more than this, she has actually managed entire visits to Yunqiao. Rosa has also been responsible for applying for grant schemes which has included the creation of projects and allocating budget.
I was happy to hear how much she enjoys her internship, before coming to China she didn’t expect to be as involved in the day to day projects. She has been very impressed with her colleagues’ passion, especially with the Yunqiao Project that she also tries to put her heart and soul into it.
On the day of the company trip I was very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect as well as being a representative for InternChina. Little did I know, how important this day was for the company itself.
My day started around 6 am wondering what the trip would be like, obviously it wasn’t a normal workday. I was informed that 50 students from Baruch College in New York would be joining us, so I was getting prepared to meet the students and talk to them about InternChina and its work as well as gathering my business cards to go.
With my breakfast in hand I headed out to meet Rosa at the hotel where the students were staying. There I met Alina, the students’ coordinator and two of Rosa’s Chinese colleagues at the NGO. After making final arrangements and assisting all the students into the buses, we headed out towards the North West of the city at around 8:15 am.
Two hours later we arrived at a small village named Yunqiao (云桥) in the Pidu District. After arriving we met the Project Manager and he informed us about their work, especially in the area. One of the companies projects is the rehabilitation and protection of Chengdu’s Yunqiao Wetlands Water Resource Protected Area.
But what is so special about this area? Yunqiao is located between the confluence of two of Chengdu’s most important rivers: the Botiao and Xuyan rivers. Botiao is one of the four “mother rivers” of Chengdu city. Along with Xuyan river, they both are the major source of drinking water for the city.
The “Magical Earth” project is an initiative to protect native plants and animal habitats in the Yuanqiao Wetlands. One of the major problems in the area is the alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) which is a non-native species; alligator weed is considered a major threat to ecosystems because of its negative effects to both aquatic and terrestrial environments.
Through the joint efforts of government departments, community organisations, scientific research institutions and entrepreneurs, the recovery and management of Yunqiao wetlands has been gradually and successfully implemented.
Even though the initiative is very important for the village itself, unfortunately only a few villagers volunteer. But several international companies not only provide volunteers, they also provide donations.
What We Saw
This day was a day to celebrate. After the Project Manager explained to us the importance of the wetlands, we witnessed the signing of an agreement between Rosa’s Internship Host Company, the local government and the head of the village. This agreement recognizes Yunqiao village as a natural protectorate, which gives the area an official status of a natural reserve.
We were able to see the wetlands ourselves and get our hands dirty by pulling out some alligator weed. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in our favor. This made it difficult for us to stay longer and for me to explore the area a little more.
The overall experience was very rewarding. Sometimes we take for granted what nature can give us and this trip has been a eye-opening experience. Therefore, I am happy I was able to meet very passionate people within the company who are willing to give that extra push for the environment.
Especial thanks to our partner company and Rosa for providing us the diagrams of the area.
I am a bachelor student in International Business Management at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics. I have been in China for 4 years now and I am very familiar with its language and culture. Since August 2014, I had so many great experiences in this country. I have only lived in Dalian though I visited many other cities.
Living in Dalian for 4 Years
I’ve had tough times in the beginning because I come from a very different culture than China’s. But for the most part, it has been an absolutely wonderful experience. I mean China is great and so is Dalian. This city is full of surprises, activities, great food, nice places and amazing people. I got to love this city and I would definitely stay for a masters degree.
Experience with InternChina
This year is my last and I am going to graduate in June, so I decided to use my classroom knowledge into the real world; that’s how I got in touch with InternChina. The team found an internship for me at Felpa Group, a Pakistani trading company in downtown Dalian as a marketing intern. I learned a lot and developed research, creativity and communication skills. That was the first internship I had outside of my country so I was a bit overwhelmed but with the constant help and support from Colin and InternChina, I got through my fears.
After that great experience, I wanted more, so now I am on my second internship at the InternChina Dalian office and I’m loving it. It’s a really great experience and I recommend everyone to join us! Thanks IC <3.
Since the first day I arrived in Chengdu I have loved every moment. From my first ride on an ofo to my last. From sweating through my first hotpot to a little brow mop at my last. Chengdu has shown me a completely new way of life, laid back, relaxed, slow paced. When you think of China you think of the crazy hustle and bustle of giant cities. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Chengdu despite being the biggest city I’ve ever been to is also the most relaxed.
My initial fears of relentless spice and unbearable huajiao, have ended in me wondering if I’ll ever find a comparable flavour back home. The range of delicious food that can be found here in Chengdu will be one of the things I miss the most.
Alongside getting to know this fantastic city I have also made some fantastic friends! The InternChina family welcomed me with open arms. The office environment is nothing but great fun on a daily basis with great team spirit. As well, all the interns I’ve met in my 3 months have been fantastic in both helping me get to know the city and sharing great stories and experiences together.
My internship has allowed me to pass on the great experience I had previously on my internship in 2015 with the interns I’ve met here in Chengdu. Organising great activities and some extracurricular events have helped me form truly great friendships.
The skills I’ve learnt during my internship are so varied and extensive there is no doubt that I will be able to use them later on in life. From the daily tasks I’ve completed to meetings and marketing, I’ve gained a wide range of transferable skills.
InternChina has given me a platform from which I can only excel. This has truly been an unforgettable experience that I’m sure I will tell stories about for the rest of my life!
What an unforgettable life-changing experience? Apply now!
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 !
大家好！ Hello everyone, my name is Subin and I am from South Korea. I’ve begun my internship at the fabulous InternChina Chengdu office and I would like to share my story with you!
Having an ambitious and brave mom, I had to travel with her around the world, experience the cultural differences and learn different languages since I was a kid. I left my home country when I was 10.
Among the countries I have visited, China was the country I missed the most. The fantastic landscape, the delicious food and beautiful memories I had with my local friends brought me back to China.
The China in my memory and the China that I am living in now
I was pleasantly surprised by the changes in China: it has developed so fast in the few years I’ve been away! The life here has become so much easier with applications like Wechat and Zhifubao (Mobile Payment App). But the food is still extremely delicious and the local people are as welcoming as before.
Taobao is the best invention ever. We can buy everything on this application at the most unbelievable prices. If you come to China, try to not get addicted to it, because I already am!
The decision to come back to China was a turning point for me: from the timid daughter who followed and listened to her mom to the grown-up who makes decision by her own and is responsible for them. Therefore, nowadays my life is full of adventures and I love it!