Saturday 5th December was meant to be a big day. My first organised trip taking the InternChina interns out to do some fierce Dragon boat racing on Doumen lake. I had it all planned down to a tee.Meet at 11.30am at the bus stop; 12.30pm arrive at Doumen Lake; allocate exactly one hour for lunch; then get on the lake and play some team games.
There were whisperings of potential rain over the weekend but I ignored them. Being from England, it rains ALL THE TIME and a little bit of rain never hurt anybody. However it did have the potential to cancel our Dragon Boat Racing plans…
Half way through the journey, we received a call from the company saying that Dragon Boat Racing had been cancelled because there was torrential rain and it was too dangerous to go out on the lake. This was so unfair. In an effort to make the best of a soggy situation and still have our day out, we made a detour to the Jintai Buddhist Temple which was close by.
Located at the highest peak of Huangyang Mountain in Zhuhai, over looking Yamen seaport, this was everything you imagined a Buddhist temple to be. Surrounded by tranquil waters and picturesque scenery, all that missing was a Chinese Erhu playing in the background to our exploration.
Under reconstruction after being destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, Jintai Temple was slowly being restored to it’s former glory. Brightly coloured with intricately painted designs and spiritual figures, it was growing into a memorable piece of work.
For me, however, Jintai’s highlight was it’s unassuming restaurant located near the entrance. We wondered in, damp and hungry to be greeted by an old man with a beaming smile.
We asked him if there was a menu, he said “No”.
We asked him how much the food was he said “Any price that you want to pay”.
To say that we were confused, was an understatement. After 5 minutes of translation between us we realised that this was exactly how this restaurant operated.
There was no menu, only a vegetarian buffet available and we did only need to pay what we thought the meal was worth.
The food was homely and comforting and the staff were so friendly and helpful, despite our cluelessness. When it came to paying the bill, not being told how much to pay definitely made me more generous than I would be otherwise. This is a very good business idea.
While my initial plans for Dragon Boat Racing may have been swept away to sea, our trip to Jintai Temple was certainly a successful alternative.
Until next time for another InternChina Zhuhai adventure….. apply here to join us!
Hi, everyone, I am Shirley Yan, the new face in the IC Zhuhai office.
Born in the north part of China, I grew up and completed my secondary education in Shenyang. But I am always keen to experience what I have never experienced before and expect what is unexpected. Driven by my curiosity, I wanted to explore the world outside. So I left home alone and started my overseas education in Singapore at the age of 16. The adventure never ends. In my first year of university, I started to think of the big question: Who am I and what do I truly want to do in life?
Therefore, I spent a lot of time trying to discover my interests and strengths and found myself passionate on marketing and business development. Singaporeans like to call their country ‘a little red dot on the map’. It is a financial and trading center of North-east Asia but the market is tiny. On the contrary, China, as an arising economic entity, has a massive untapped market and a huge population with consuming potential. So I decided to choose China as my destination.
Why Zhuhai then?
There is an idiom “南商北工”, which well demonstrates the enterprise distribution in China. It means the northern region is strong in industries and manufacturing while the southern region is advantaged in business and trading. The difference in economic structures is associated with distinct geographical features in the north and south. The political center is located in the north so has number of government-owned industries such as electricity and oil industries. The south (Guangzhou) is close to harbours and has a number of trading, tech and startup companies. Interning in Zhuhai allows me to learn more about marketing and business development. Last but not least, it is ranked top as the most livable city in China.
Interning in IC
The working culture of InternChina is really impressive and completely different from that of Singapore. In Singapore, business is usually based on a rigid organizational structure where employees are taught to be obedient by the hierarchy. But InternChina team is like a family. I celebrated Christmas with 7 colleagues, one dog and one baby on my first day of arrival (haha) and received the best Christmas gift I have ever received in my life. Moreover, there are a lot of things I can learn from these amazing and enthusiastic people here.
Exploration and learning is the essence of life. If you are someone like me, come and join us. You will never regret it!!
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.
Ni hao, everyone. In this blog post, I’ll write a bit about how life’s going in Zhuhai.
I’ve been pretty busy since my last article, and it’s true what everyone’s been telling me – time really does fly, here. I can’t believe that it’s already been three weeks!
Last week, I said goodbye to my flatmate, Rob. It was great to get to know him and he’s a cool guy.
My internship’s been going well. I’m working in a small team for an American company. My colleagues are all nice and interesting people. I like the fact that most of my co-workers are Chinese. This way, I get to learn more about Chinese culture. They also know all the best places to eat!
On the weekend, I went to my Chinese friend’s dinner party. The food was delicious – Chinese hot pot with an assortment of veggies, seafood and meat, not to mention a generous helping of beverages. It was really fun and I was surrounded by excellent company.
The next day, I went on a Santa bar crawl. As a westerner, I already stuck out like a sore thumb. But as a Santa-Clause-dressed westerner, it’s fair to say that I turned more heads than usual. After the last bar, we went to a club called MiuMiu. I can now tick ‘stroll up in a club dressed as Santa’ off of my list of things to do before I die.
Sunday was a relaxing day out with my Chinese friends. We had some spicy Sichuan food for lunch, went to the park, walked along the coast and saw the famous Zhuhai Fisher Lady. After this, we had more tasty seafood for dinner.
It’s been a great experience so far. I realise that I’ve mainly talked about food in this article. Well, I make no apologies. It’s worth coming to China just for that!
I do miss loved ones back home, but thanks to technology, it’s easy to keep in touch. Making the effort to meet new people here has helped, and the friends I’ve made have been very good at making me feel at home.
If you’d like to meet Rob and enjoy the same experience, apply now!
Hi, all! My name is Robbie and I’m a new intern in Zhuhai. I’ve been here for just under two weeks, and I’ll be staying till late January. I’ll post regular updates on how I’m getting on in China. In this article, I’ll write a bit about myself, what brings me to China, and my experience so far.
First off, a little about myself. I’m from the UK, and I’ve been fortunate to grow up with an international background, having previously lived in the USA for several years and in France for a year. I graduated in the summer from the University of Leicester, where I studied Management Studies and Economics with a year abroad in Denmark. I had great time at university, and I hope to always be a student at heart. I’m a food-lover, and not to brag, but I can make the best blueberry pancakes in the world. I enjoy travelling, meeting new people, learning about different cultures, and staying fit.
I applied to the British Council Generation UK programme run by InternChina, because I wanted to do something different after I graduated, gain some more international experience, and I’ve always wanted to go to China. These three reasons combined made InternChina the perfect choice for me. On top of this, my internship is in the financial industry, which is an area that I am exploring as a future career path. This will provide me with a valuable ‘foot in the door’.
As for my experience so far, it’s been a pretty wild ride. For the most part, my journey over went smoothly, although I didn’t manage to get much sleep on the long-haul flight to Hong Kong thanks to the constant slamming of the lavatory doors, one of which only occasionally flung open so wide as to hit me in the arm. Not to mention the chorus of endless flushing. However, I did see the funny side – an attitude which has already served me well during my short stay, here.
After two flights and a short ferry ride, and a day of what felt like fading into and out of consciousness, I arrived in a hot and sunny Zhuhai – a pleasant change from wet and windy UK – where I was met by Janice from Intern China, who helped me with some of the basics and took me to my apartment, which I’m sharing with two other interns.
Never having been to Asia before, the culture shock is real. But it’s surprising how quickly I’ve gotten used to things that would seem strange back home, such as the chaotic traffic that amazes me how I haven’t witnessed or been involved in a horrific accident, yet, and the loud throat-clearing noises and spitting, as well as the lack of adherence to what is a sacred institution in Britain – queuing. However, I don’t want to paint a bad picture of China. In fact, I have met plenty of friendly and helpful people here, they have a beautiful culture, and the people are similar in many ways. Being here for such a short time has already made me more open-minded.
As well as the culture shock that I’ve mentioned, there are a number of simple things that I have found to be challenging, such as navigation, using public transportation and buying food. Most of the difficulty is down to the language barrier, where few people speak English. I started self-studying a little bit of Mandarin before I came, and my limited knowledge of a few words has been a big help in a number of situations.
Another challenge that comes from that food has been food poisoning, which hopefully won’t be a common occurrence. The Chinese do seem to have iron stomachs. This is one thing that may take me a while to develop!
I’m really enjoying myself so far. It’s been tough at times, but I’m aware that difficult experiences are valuable. And on a brighter note, it’s really easy to make friends here, probably because all of the international people realise the challenges that others face and understand that we’re all together in the same boat. I have also made friends with a number of Chinese people, who are very fun and outgoing. I’m having a great adventure in China – one that I won’t ever forget
If you’d like to get to know Robbie and experience the real China, apply now!
In the beginning of November our InternChina Zhuhai crew started another adventure. This time the destination was called: Yangshuo 阳朔 <<Yáng Shuò>> – a place with unique and truly stunning scenery.
But before I tell you about our trip, here is a little summary about Yangshuo:
Yangshuo County has a fairy-tale landscape with a lot of traditional Chinese, rural culture which has inspired many artists and poets in the past. Its history goes back to antiquity and was established in the Sui Dynasty in 590AD. The architecture and caves allow people to trace back the ancient history. Located in the Guangxi province close to Guilin, the area is a very popular tourist destination and a delightful escape from noise pollution in big cities.
On a Friday we started a 7 hour bus journey from Zhuhai together with about 10 Chinese tourists whom we didn’t know before. Needless to say we were all every excited.
Once we arrived, some of us went to find a midnight bite to eat. The hotel staff told us to be aware of the local “pirates”, which from that moment became the comedy theme of our trip. Nonetheless, we found very delicious BBQ lamb close by, got comfortable on miniature stools for a little while, and made it back safe and sound to the hotel without being made to walk the plank.
The next day we had an early start to finally explore the area and so we got on the bus and went to the world-famous Li River 漓 江 <<Lí Jiāng>>. There we took a boat to cruise along the river and witness the countryside imprinted on the 20CNY note. We also made the acquaintance of these lovely cormorants:
Next we went to XingPing old town aka XingPing fishing village 兴坪镇 <<Xīngpíng Zhèn>> – a street with many small shops and food stalls.
We were prepared for temperatures around 10-15 degrees, however, it turned out to be very sunny and warm that weekend and thus we were not equipped with the appropriate clothes. Speaking of clothes, this brings me to the next point on our budget list: Trying on traditional Chinese outfits at The Big Banyan Tree 大榕树 <<Dà Róng Shù>>. So on top of what were already warm clothes we put another layer of the finest Chinese materials.
We turned into the sight-seeing highlight for many of the Chinese people around us.
About 100 selfies and group pictures later we jumped back on the bus to see the Silver Cave 银 子岩 << Yínzi Yán>>. Luckily we weren’t there during the very busy season and thus had the chance to enjoy the colourfully lit rocks in only partially crowded areas.
But that was not it for the day. The moon-mountain as well as avery eventful dinner was up next.
And once again we turned out to be lucky: we met one of the ethnic minority groups “Zhuang” – really lovely ladies dressed in their traditional outfits – who ended up taking many pictures with us as well! Yangshuo is home to several ethnic minority groups and wearing traditional clothes in daily life still seems to be very common there.
Last but not least we went to see a very impressive, and the world’s largest natural theatre called Impression Liu Sanjie 印象刘三姐 <<Yìn Xiàng Liú Sān Jiĕ>>. Its stage are the waters and natural islands of the Li River and the twelve mist shrouded hills are its backdrop. The performance with 600+ actors is divided into seven chapters including the preface and epilogue which captured the entire audiences’ imagination.
To round off the day we enjoyed a cool breeze around bar street and celebrated the birthday of one of our crew members!
Like true pirates we woke up the next morning bright and early to continue our expedition. This time we took the bus to Yulong River 遇 龙河<< Yù lóng hé >> to go for a round of relaxed bamboo rafting. Even though the weather was drizzly that morning, we didn’t want to miss out on another great experience. The fog covering the mountain tops even gave the area a mysterious look and feel.
After a carefree float on the river we went for lunch close by before heading back to our beloved Zhuhai!
After living in Zhuhai for about 4 months, it seems about time to speak about the after-work possibilities. No matter if you just want to sip a cocktail, have a quiet wine or want to dance to wild electronic tunes, our beautiful city can offer you all of the above!
Location: South, Jida/Gongbei
Being a newbie in the city you cannot miss out on Zhuhai’s 300 meter long bar street 酒吧街 «Jiǔbājiē». As soon as it gets dark, bar street lights up. Here businessmen, yuppies and tourists rub shoulders to enjoy a drink or two, play dice or on occasion rock-paper-scissors at one of the more upscale clubs or dozen open-air bars. If you want to have a taste of the local beer, go for a Haizhu.
88 (Ba Ba)
- Being the first bar at the corner of bar street it is also the most popular bar in the city. Don’t be shy and join the locals to play a round of dice! The drinks are generally quite expensive there but don’t worry, we also have a solution for that: get yourself a can of beer at one of the shops across the street and enjoy it on one of the benches in front of the bar. 88 is open until 5am 7 days a week.
Cohiba (Xi Yang Hui)
- For a more quiet beer have a seat in the outdoor area of Cohiba or listen to the live singers inside the bar. It can also be a nice break from the electronic sounds of 88. A beer costs roughly ¥20-30.
La Bohemia (桂缘), 珠海市水湾路酒吧街
- La Bohemia is the first bar on bar street if coming from the North East. Its Latin dance parties on Friday nights are very popular. It is a great place to enjoy Portuguese or Mediterranean food and it also offers a large selection of cocktails and wines.
- This is also a nice place to go if you fancy a quiet wine and some fine dining.
- 1520 is one block down from 88 towards the ocean. This bar is similar to 88 but has karaoke/ KTV rooms upstairs.
Location: North of the City Centre, Lanpu
Midtown富华里«fu4 hua2 li3» is the place to go if you want a night out with a more western atmosphere. Here we recommend A-Club and specifically their outside beer-garden area.
Location: South-East, Huafa Century City
In this very new and modern district of Zhuhai live most of Zhuhai’s expats. Bars and clubs we recommend you to go to are: The Factory, M2 and MiuMiu.
Whilst they have live music every Friday, The Factory is still a good place to meet friends to chat and drink, with delicious western food, live music and a round of pool. If you prefer to dance to modern electric sounds like there’s no tomorrow then make the short trip from here to M2 or MiuMiu.
With a little bit of luck, you can also spot one or two fancy cars, and even a hello-kitty version of a Ferrari boasting both Zhuhai and Macau license plates:
Location: East Coast, Jida
When the weather is good, which in Zhuhai it often is, at the bars along Jida beach you can enjoy a perfect view over the ocean. The bars are reasonably priced considering their location and have a range of alcoholic beverages and juices on offer. For low-budget travellers we strongly recommend a few “beach beers” which you can get from one of the many small shops around.
Very close to Jida Beach you can find London Lounge, which is a very popular bar amongst expats. Their Chinese as well as Western staff are always ready to crack a joke and also the Open-Mic sessions every second Thursday are worth checking out!
If you also want to experience Zhuhai and get a tour around the city, apply now!
You always wanted to know what journalism in China is like?
Check out our Interview with Jean-Jacques Verdun (JJ) who established in 2008 the now very successful Media and PR agency Delta Bridges. The simpatico/ likable French Business man speaks about his background, his business philosophy “Long-term” as well as of the chances and challenges this working environment implies.
In addition to that he explains the importance of English and flexibility in China. His company provides a real internship opportunities with a lot of responsibility. An experience which one cannot take for granted. The so called “editors” have to evolve a new set of skills in China in order to do their research and to not cross a line in terms of media sensitivity in the country.
We are in the heart of Guangdong, we are in the Pearl River Delta, which is much more dynamic than the rest of the Guangdong province, which is also much more dynamic than the rest of China!
According to JJ, doing business in China is very rewarding and in 99% of his cases he has only had good experiences.
Have a look at this short Video to meet a man who also is known for his positive attitude and good sense of humour: “I might be wrong, but then I’m French, I’m allowed to exaggerate”. You can find the full interview below the video. Enjoy!
- Tell us a little about yourself and your company
I’m a French citizen. In fact half French, half American, because my mother is from America. But still, more French than American.
I came to China in 2001 as a French teacher. I was very quickly involved in social activities and we created the first expat club in Zhuhai in 2013. There were such few foreigners here that we really had to support each other.
China was of course not the country it is today. There were no bars, no bar street. It was thus very difficult to meet. And hence the need for such social activities and clubs for us to be able to connect with each other. The Chinese were not as easy to communicate with as today because their English level was not as good as today and also because they had travelled less abroad at that time. So you have to understand that 99% of the Chinese people we met in 2001-2003 never left China. Their parents never left China, their grandparents never left China… so the cultural gab was huge.
Then I created Delta Bridges in 2008 first as a Media Company based in Macau. We had a website providing useful information to the people living in the Pearl River Delta area. Hence the name Delta Bridges. It was hard to set up (the company) in the beginning. We launched (it) in October 2008, at the same time as the big financial crisis worldwide. So the first 2 years were pretty hard because of the financial crisis and no one wanted to pay for advertisement on a new media platform.
But since 2010, we’ve been growing step-by-step and in 2013 we realized that most of our customers were giving us money to buy advertisement on our media platform but they were also giving us money to PR related services such as events, marketing campaigns, business matchmaking, etc.
So last year, in 2014, we decided to officially open a PR agency that is working hand in hand with the media platform.
Some people said: “wow, you’re doing more and more.” So we had to make sure to tell people that we are staying focused while doing business in China. I believe we still keep that focus – I don’t forget that it is important. We just respond to the customer needs. If the customer wants PR services as well as advertisement on our media platform, we should be able to offer these customer services. And in fact, it goes hand-in-hand.
- What is your business philosophy?
Long-term! Step-by-step and long-term.
By the time I started my company I was not a teenager anymore, not even in my 20s. I was 35 so I knew a little bit what I want and what I don’t want. Also what I care about and what I don’t care about. Become incredibly rich and being hated by everyone was no option for me. Of course I want to make money and I want to be successful, I want my company to grow and I want to improve my lifestyle, but not at any cost. So step-by-step and long-term, meaning the relationship with the customers, the relationship with the employees at Delta Bridges.
I want to be able to smile every day when I come to my office. Obviously the working hours in China are longer than in France, and therefore work is a huge part of life here. In fact, there is no division for Chinese people between the working-life and the personal-life that we may have in Europe and especially in France. So it is important for me to enjoy my work, to be happy, to be in a good mood. If it takes 60-70% of my time, I don’t want it to be miserable.
That being said, of course we need to work hard, and sometimes we’re in a bad mood and sometimes we are angry, but overall we work in a happy environment. That matches with what we are doing as PR and Media company – it is about meeting people, about seducing people, about connecting people. So the happier our mood is, the more convincing we can be! So it again goes hand-in-hand.
- What’s the main language spoken at your company?
English is the main language spoken at our company. I’m glad you mention that because a few year ago when InternChina started they thought I wanted French speaking interns, and I don’t mind having French speaking interns, but they need to have an excellent English if they want to work with us as we produce English media. I like my fellow French citizens, I like people from Quebec, I like people from any French speaking country, but to do an internship at my company, they need to have a very good English level. In addition, for anyone who wants to do an internship in Asia, English is really a strong requirement. You need to master English pretty well.
- Tell us about your internship positions
The job title of position number one is “editor”.
We give a lot of responsibility to our interns. It’s a real internship, not a fake internship. They don’t have to brew the coffee or make photocopies – they will go out, meet real people and we expect them to write stories about bars, restaurants, hotels etc. in English. Obviously not in Chinese. That’s one part of the job.
The second part of the job is to prove-read the writings and reviews of their Chinese colleagues. Even though their English level is very high, it’s not high enough to publish their work directly in English. What the interns do is, they write in Chinese and hand over an English version, which sometimes is pretty accurate but it still needs to be prove-read.
The other position comes along with the first one. When we write a review about people and places, it’s not that we just go there and come back. We try to meet the decision-maker of the place. If it is a bar, we try to meet the bar-owner. If it’s a restaurant, we try to meet the General Manager, if not the GM, the director of marketing and sales etc. So there is a lot of PR involved in that job.
I don’t want the people to just go and come back because then the work could also be done in the office. So if you have to go somewhere, you have to build a relationship with the people. That’s important. Also, and that is for the entire team, everyone is expected to find one sales-lead a week. They must try, if they don’t, nothing bad happens to them, but they must try to pass on one lead for the sales people.
So I want my interns, even though they go and write a review about a bar, to keep their eyes open to see what is happening around them on the way to the bar, on the way back and in the bar itself. Bars are just an example here.
We write a review about the bar we don’t charge money for, but maybe these people are also interested to buy advertisement. If they ask questions about it I want my interns to be smart and pass that lead to the sales team. I don’t expect my interns to do sales directly because we are in China and it also depends on how long they are doing their internship. So it all depends on the specific case, whether they want to and how long they stay, for short internships rather not.
- What are the benefits for an intern coming to your company? What do you offer the interns?
Like I mentioned, it’s a real internship, so they are faced with real tasks and real duties. It’s not a puppet internship. If someone wants to come to party and relax, we are not the right company because I assign tasks and I expect the work to be done.
Here is another example: if I take someone young who hasn’t a lot of experience and this someone helps our company by producing some work, I make sure as a counterpart that the produced work is real. The people they meet are real decision-makers and I think that’s a great working experience here in China. We are probably one of the companies who expose their interns the most to the real working-life.
- What challenges does a journalist face in China?
First of all, we don’t call them journalist, we call them editors for the purpose that journalism and journalism media is so sensitive in China. And this applies for all companies: journalists are not referred to as journalists but editors. An editor is like a softer version of a journalist. Writing in a Chinese style for a westerner, someone with a journalism background for example, who comes to do an internship it is quite different. Here it is sensitive. The Chinese are cool, they are welcoming, but you have to be careful with what you expose to the public, that you don’t publish the wrong thing. So if someone publishes something on the website, on the blog or on WeChat, and it’s controversial, you may end up having problems. That’s something to pay attention to for someone with a journalism background. Here they are editors and they have to tone down a little bit with what they want to say.
Second challenge is the evolving in a new environment. Journalists are normally really good in discovering new things and doing research, but they have to set the skills back to nearly zero here. Most of the information is in Chinese, so you have to develop other skills to do your research, which is again a great experience.
- 3 Facts about Business Culture in China
Business culture is very varied. If I talk to my fellow business friends in Zhuhai, their experience and my experience is totally different. Some people still behave in an old-school way to do business, which means long meetings, drinking tea, and sometimes even drinking alcohol, having long dinners, etc. In our particular field, because of the customers we have in PR, we work a lot with faster hotels, local governments, and the kind of people I’d describe as the new China. There is less difference with the west. We talk, we have meetings, we exchange, we send proposals, counter proposals… we are pretty lucky in that sense. The old China can be very eccentric so it can be attractive for some, but I personally prefer the new way.
Fact 2, it’s very fast and dynamic. China has slowed down a little bit the last couple of years, the average economic growth of China is 7.2% this year. We are in the heart of Guangdong, we are in the Pearl River Delta, which is much more dynamic than the rest of the Guangdong province, which is also much more dynamic than the rest of China. My estimate here would be at least 20% economic growth, if the rest of China is 7.2%. I might be wrong, but then I’m French, I’m allowed to exaggerate. Especially European interns that come from a country with 1 or 2% economic growth will feel that difference. So you need to be flexible.
China achieves such an economic growth by working hard. I don’t ask interns to work on the weekend, but sometimes we have unexpected meetings on Saturday or Sunday and like I mentioned, I don’t ask interns to attend, but my regular staff and I go. This means we are pretty much on go 24 hours a day 7 days a week. As this can be tense, you have to find out how to resource yourself.
And now I’m going to say something that may be controversial to what people say in the media, even to business people in China: I find Chinese people are pretty good business people. You don’t reach such a growth if you’re not a correct, smart business person. There are prejudices such as that the Chinese cheat, are never on time, and sure their way of doing business is different than ours, and I’m not saying it is easy, it is tough, but in the end, if all of that was true, the Chinese being late, unreliable, even amongst themselves, they wouldn’t work. Business in china works. It’s the country where business has worked the best the last 30 years.
I also wish people would have a different perspective when they do business here. It might be hard and painful to adapt to it, but it works in their way. In 99% of my cases I’ve had a pretty good experience with businesses in China. It has never happened that someone didn’t pay me, as an example.
If you want to get to now JJ and experience the exciting life of an editor in China, apply now!