When I arrived in January, I wrote my first blog in French. It may have been easier to write my farewells in my mother tongue but I’m happily taking the risk to use my English skills to reach most of you.
The more I’m growing up, the more I find time hard to capture. I still remember the first day I entered the office, my first impressions, my first time using Mandarin or the first noodles I tasted, but I would have never imagined that I will be sitting here, trying to do a recap of the past 6 months I lived.
6 months is a long time but still, it passed in a blink of an eye. I have seen a lot of people leave, and now my turn has come!
To cut a long story short, my experience can be split with the seasons: Winter and Summer.
Winter in Chengdu was cold, with only a few interns in the city: a small group with big hearts, we all quickly became friends, fighting the coldness of the streets by getting to know each other in the warm and smoky bars of Chengdu. When they left, winter left with them, and was replaced by a fiery Spring/Summer, along with more than 50 interns. Now we are fighting the heat and humidity, and because there are so many people, it’s harder to develop true bounds, even though their hearts are as big.
Spending 6 months working for InternChina was a professional experience far more than enriching: I’ve learned how to adapt to so many different situations that I feel I’m able to move mountains if I want to. We like to call our company a family, and it is! Even though I haven’t met most of my colleagues (spread in China or in Europe), we’re all connected and we can all count on each other.
I was lucky enough to have such an amazing team in Chengdu (Paul, Cassie, Lucy, Tamara, Henry, Joe, Miya and Rainie), a hard-working team always happy to go beyond what is expected of them. I have learned a lot from their undying energy.
InternChina offers to every participant an incredible social network, composed of very different individuals who would probably have never known each other, even if some are from the same countries. A great cultural melting-pot of open-minded people trying to learn as much as they can from Chinese culture.
I have struggled myself, I’m still struggling when I try to use the little mandarin I know, and most of the time my mind is blown away by the contrasts of this country. I love how China can be such a huge mess that works so well. I love how I got to know my Chinese friends and other foreign friends better and how I could learn from their perspective, their vision. I love how I improved myself by getting so much from other people, and give back as much as I could.
I needed to go to China by hook or by crook to see with my own eyes how this great country is moving forward, I’m happy to say that I found more than what I was looking for.
It is still hard to believe that my time here is over, but there is no place for sadness or sorrow, as I’m moving forward with great memories and a lot of stories to tell and to remember. InternChina gave me the push I needed to feel more confident with my own strength: ‘move forward’, ‘get out of your comfort zone’, ‘challenge yourself’!
I truly hope it would be the same for you.
Start your adventure, apply now!
You’ve finally handed in that last piece of coursework, those end of term exams are fast approaching (if not already in full swing), and despite promising yourself for the whole year that you’d never do it, you’ve actually waited outside the university library at 7am for the doors to open so you can get the good seat. I’ve been there.
The light at the end of the tunnel might seem as far away as it’ll ever be right now, but before long, it’s all over and you’re left with three months of freedom, a headful of ambition but there’s a good chance you’re still asking yourself the question: What am I going to do with my summer, and how am I going to make it worthwhile? Join your parents for that walking tour of the Pennines? Finally sit down and read all that George Orwell and Emily Bronte that you’ve been meaning to read for the last two years? An internship abroad? (hint hint – it’s the last one!)
So here they are: the six killer reasons why a summer internship abroad is a great way to combine travel with training for the professional world! In short – a solid investment in your future and a fantastic opportunity to make lasting memories!
1 – Gain hands-on experience in the workplace
Joining a company as an intern is a great way to learn how businesses and organisations work in the real world, and not just on paper. This is especially the case for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses, where you get the chance to see first-hand how businesses grow and transition into larger and more mature entreprises. Far from fetching the coffee and making photocopies, interns play a vital role in keeping the cogs of a business turning and if they excel in their position, can have a real impact on the direction of their host company!
2 – Immerse yourself in another culture
More so than if you were simply passing through as a traveller, interns in a country like China have the time to truly immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about what it means to be a citizen of another society. Because you’ll be working alongside them and sharing your day-to-day life with them, you will learn to eat, drink, work and play like a local. There’s no better way to smash your stereotypes about a country than to go there in person and share a hearty cup of baijiu with your coworkers who have lived there their whole lives!
3 – Prepare yourself for a truly globalised world
Interning in a country like China can prepare you in so many ways for the world of the future – you will gain vital work experience, learn how business is conducted in a country that is rapidly becoming the main trade partner of every other country in the world, learn to adapt to quickly changing working environments and function as part of an international team. Moreover, the skills you acquire during your experience interning abroad will make you stand out among your peers and will boost your future employability to no end!
4 – Help to define your career path
You may find that undertaking a summer internship helps you to discover that hidden specialism you never realised you loved! The flexibility of many internships means that you get a chance to try out the various different areas of specialism in one field of work. For example, you could well find that social media marketing really isn’t your jam, but at the same time you discover that you secretly had a burning passion for events management that you would never have known of unless you tried it out during your internship! You will also make countless contacts in your field of internship that could later prove to be a lucrative entry-point into the career path of your dreams!
5 – Learn a new language
It might seem like an intimidating (or nearly impossible!) feat to accomplish in one short summer, but an internship abroad is completely packed with chances for you to learn the basics of the language of your host country! Aside from the option to attend language classes, your coworkers will no doubt be more than happy to teach you some useful phrases to help you get by (or at least the more useful insults), and the value of being able to communicate to colleagues and business partners in their mother tongue cannot be overstated enough!
6 – Come back with some great stories
Last, and certainly not least, completing a summer internship in a country such as China can be a challenging, bewildering, bemusing, enriching and mind-boggling experience all at the same time! You will be interning alongside people from all around the globe with different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives on the world, which makes for a pretty unique summer. You may have to tackle culture shock head-on, but you will no doubt board your plane home with a suitcase full to the brim with lasting memories, heartfelt friendships, and maybe even a cuddly panda keyring stuffed in the bottom.
So I’ve been roped into writing another blog. Last time I was writing about wacky shrimp-charmers and typical Chinese benevolence but I’m toning it all down a bit in an attempt to brandish my questionable cooking talent. However, do not fear these recipes, for they have earned critical acclaim from seasoned pundits such as my ex-flatmate and anosmic sausage-dog. What’s more is that I present an opportunity to make friends with your local veg-stall owner. Just visit every day and say ‘shēng yì xīng lóng’ after you’ve paid and you’ll be friends for life.
Perhaps I should stop flaunting my credentials get on with what you came here for.
Dish One – Egg Fried Rice
‘It sounds boring!’ I hear you cry. “It’s too easy!” you moan. Pfft. Don’t you remember the social sec from that questionable university rugby club telling you not to knock something until you’ve tried it?
- Egg, obviously. You’re going to need 2-5 of these, depending on how much you hit the gym.
- Rice. Try to scale this with the number of eggs you’ve used.
- Some kind of oil to grease your wok. I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
- Vegetables. Normally I go with a solitary carrot because I’m boring, but you should try adding broccoli, pak choi or cauliflower. If you’re feeling really adventurous then add all four.
- Soy sauce, obviously. This is China after all.
- Sesame oil. This is the secret ingredient that sets apart the Jamie Olivers from the normal Olivers.
Start by getting your rice cooker on the go. While she’s doing the hard work for you, chop up your vegetables into little chunks and crack open your eggs into a small bowl. Then, fry the veg in your wok on a medium/high heat in some oil.
Once those seedless fruits are looking nice and cooked turn down the heat to low/medium and throw in the eggs. Be sure to give them a good whacking with a wooden spoon. Beat them until it looks like that scene from Team America when the hero-guy comes out of the pub.
Now you need to add in the rice. Make sure that it isn’t all mushy with water then throw it into the wok. Pour some soy sauce over it and stir it in. Usually you’ll need about 10-20mL of soy sauce, but you’ll soon work out how strong you like your flavours. Finally, pour some sesame oil into the wok and mix that in too. About 3-5mL is all you need.
And voila! That took about 15 minutes.
Dish Two – Chicken Stir Fry
This is my signature dish in China. My old housemates back home in England know how proud I was of my first bhuna and others find my bolognese irresistible. However, China isn’t fond of curry and you’ll pay a lot of money to cook yourself a proper bolognese so I’ll try to keep on topic.
- Chicken. Cluck cluck.
- Rice or noodles. This is a great opportunity because you can disguise this single recipe as two by using either carbohydrate base.
- Carrots. Feel free to add other vegetables but the carrots are the best thing about this dish.
- Ginger. You’ll need about 5cm of this, maybe more. Who knows? You’ll find out how much you like soon enough.
- Garlic. While we’re on the subject, anyone reading who hasn’t been to China might be interested to know that the Chinese like to munch on whole garlic cloves. You’ll need about three for this dish.
- Soy sauce. You’ll work out how much you need.
- Oil. Again, I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
- Honey (not essential).
- Peanut butter (not essential).
- Peanuts (not essential).
Choose if you want rice or noodles. Prepare them but wait until later to cook.
Slice and dice your chicken and slap it into a moderately oiled wok. You don’t want to turn on the heat yet unless you like your chicken black. Wash your chopping board if you don’t have access to another and use it to chop your carrots. Slice them into 1cm thick batons, wash them and leave them aside. Turn on the chicken to a medium heat. Then start chopping up the ginger and garlic into tiny pieces. A big meaty cleaver helps with this. The smaller the better. You’ll see what I mean.
Somewhere in the middle of chopping up the ginger and garlic you’ll hear a mysterious voice whisper in your ear: ‘don’t forget to turn on the rice’. This will only occur if you chose to cook rice. Obey the voice.
When the chicken is almost cooked, which is usually when you’ve just peeled the garlic and ginger, put your carrots in the wok. If you’re cooking noodles, boil the water now.
When you feel like you can’t be bothered to chop ginger and garlic anymore, put them in the wok and turn the flame up high. I try to make some room in the middle of the wok and put them there, adding the soy sauce at the same time. I find that the flavours come out better when it’s been blasted with heat. Leave it for about 15 seconds and then stir it all in. After a few minutes I like to pick the wok up and toss the ingredients up into the air and catch them again in the wok. (I actually do this with the lid on but it’s still good practice). Finally, add a squirty of honey and a spoony of peanut butter. Stir it like that rumour you spread about Tom and Lucy back in ‘08.
If your choice was noodles, start cooking them now. They need about one or two minutes. If you chose rice, it should be cooked by now. Put it in a bowl and add a little bit of soy sauce. I like to add the noodles to the wok and stir fry them with some extra soy sauce.
About now everything should be ready. Just serve it up. Garnish with peanuts to add extra protein and a new crunchy texture.
And that’s it! Another just-satisfactory blog that has slipped through the editor’s occasionally slippery net.
Type ‘China’ into any search engine and a bewildering mishmash of skyscrapers, shopping centres and super-sized monuments flood the screen. From photos, at a casual glance, one city can look quite similar to another. But in a country that spans 9,600,000KM² and what should be 5 different time zones, there’s a wider variety of cultural differences than first meets the eye. So what sort of local culture can you expect to encounter doing an internship in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai?
Lucky for me, I’ve had the opportunity to visit or live in all three cities now. From my internship in the central western metropolis of Chengdu, to living and working in Qingdao out on a peninsula on the east coast of China, and finally visiting Zhuhai for business in the far south coast bordering Macau. I’m starting to develop a real sense of the local flavours in terms of food, culture and general attitudes to life. Let me see if I can summarise it for you:
The Food (in my opinion the best way to get a feel for any Chinese city)
Far east Qingdao meal times are all about, yes you’ve guessed it, the famous local brew Tsingtao Beer. Whether the Qingdaonese are eating out in the late evening at the street BBQ round the corner or cooking at home, there’s a jug of Tsingtao on the table. Interns here over the summer months often see people winding their way home with a few plastics bags full of beer swinging from the handle bars of their E-bike or scooter. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a plateful of sautéed clams or BBQ chicken wings.
Out west in Chengdu is renowned for its tongue numbing SPICE. Moving here most interns learn to develop and iron lining to the inner stomach pretty quickly, but the flavours make it absolutely worth it. The locals don’t just leave the restaurants to the visitors either, the Sichuanese love a regular family night out. They can spend hours around a pot of Ganguo (Dry Pot) or Huoguo (Hot Pot) chatting noisily, chilling and drinking copious amounts of beer to quell the numbing thirst.
Down south in Zhuhai the flavours are much more delicate but just as mouthwatering. Meals here usually start off with the careful observed tradition of rinsing your cups, bowls with the hot water provided. It quickly becomes a habit that you miss when visiting other cities. The best thing about Zhuhai though is the breakfasts! Arrays of Dim sum (variety of small stacks mostly consisting of steamed shrimp and meat dumplings) accompanied by a warm bowl of rice porridge that sets you up nicely for the day to come.
I always think the elderly are of the best indicators of local culture. China’s ageing population are noticeable wherever you go. The Chinese love spending most of their morning practising Taiqi and their days with their grand kids, but all three InternChina cities have their fair share of elderly Chinese Chess (Xiang Qi) players and card sharks too.
In Qingdao you’re more likely to find these groups in the peaceful parts of Old Town, congregated under the shade of big trees planted in the German colonial period. With the grand-kids running around them the scene looks pretty idyllic but I’m fairly sure at least some games of Baohuang (Protect the Emperor!) and Gouji (High Level) end badly for at least some of the players involved! Both are local card games invented in Shandong province.
Over in Chengdu it’s the tea houses that draw in the Sichuanese senior citizens. A fellow intern once told me of a disastrous time they bet against the grandmother of her host family in a game of Mahjong. Trust me, they won’t go easy on you, the only way is to learn their tactics the hard way! It might be hard on your self-esteem but it’s not a bad way to practice your local Sichuanese accent outside of the language classroom.
Down in Zhuhai, it’s a fair bet that they take no prisoners either when betting on card games like Tuolaji (Tractor) and Doudizhu (Fight the Landlord). With such close proximity to the world’s largest gambling centre Macau just over the border, it’s no wonder the gambling spirit has permeated Zhuhai’s local population too. At any rate, when their not at the cards you’re likely to find most of Zhuhai’s pensioners wandering along Jida Beach and Lover’s Walk.
People from Shandong Province where Qingdao is based are renowned for having a hospitable nature. However there’s also a strict and disciplined streak in there. Qingdao-ren get things done! That’s why Qingdao’s port is one of the busiest in the world. Weekends are often spent fishing from the shoals or relaxing in a tent on the beach make up for the bustle of the city centre.
Chengdu people can have a bit of a spicy temperament, just like their food. But in day to day life the locals are extremely easy-going. They like to take things slow which is a direct contrast to the booming development of the city growing up around them. For the younger generation, resident foreigners and visiting students though, Chengdu is fast becoming a party capital for China.
Zhuhai-ren is also incredibly laid back. They also have a reputation for pragmatism, a pinch of ambition but also a warm dose of hospitality. The truth is that very few Zhuhai people are originally from Zhuhai, due to its location bang in the middle of Hongkong, Macau, Shenzhen and Guangzhou it’s attracted people from all over the country as well as many a foreign face. This also makes Zhuhai a hot-spot for big corporations from Hong kong breaking into the Chinese mainland market.
The first cities that usually come to mind for people in search of a competitive work environment, where you can learn new skills in China are usually Beijing or Shanghai. But if you’re really up for a new encounter, and a chance to get immersed in a different culture whilst discovering what makes China’s economy tick, then find out more about some of the internships on offer in Qingdao, Chengdu and Zhuhai. Apply now!
Last week I introduced you to some really good places for a night out in Chengdu. But aside from American-style parties, western clubs and rooftop bars, in Chengdu you can also experience some crazy Chinese clubs, chilled pubs and amazing riverside bars.
Lan Kwai Fong (兰桂坊)
Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu, named after the infamous party street in Hong Kong, is a purpose-built entertainment complex in the heart of the Waitan area on the riverbank. It’s the place where you can find a Latino-American bar like Rumba bar alonside a Chinese club next door. It offers some restaurants, cafes and shops, but even more clubs and bars for the keen party goers ! Lan Kwai Fong attracts an international crowd with its numerous establishments. Every club has differents things and atmospheres to offer : MIU bar for free alcohol, Venus for it’s crazy atmosphere and its original dancefloor.
Jiu Yan Qiao (九眼桥)
Close to Sichuan University campus, there are various bars and clubs in this area. The surrounding street BBQ places, known as Shaokao, are always good for a midnight snack after long night out.
- ONLY : If you ever wanted to experience a Chinese club, then Only is the place to be. If you go you might be the only foreigners on the dancefloor, but the Chinese will be very welcoming, perhaps a little too much !
- Underground bar : A British bar located in the heart of Chengdu where you can find over 50 different beers and tasty homemade food. Nice place to chill with your friends after a long workday.
- MUSE : You can find a Muse in almost every major city in China and the concept is always the same: stylish interior, pumping sounds and the occasional dance show on the stage. Good for a fun evening and a couple of whiskeys mixed with green tea.
The Riverside in Chengdu offers quite a few bars to hang out at different locations. There are bars along the river near Jiuyanqiao and west of Ren Min Nan Lu. One of the best ones is probably the reggae themed ‘Jahbar’. There are regular free jam sessions and cheap Tsingdao beer in a nice setting. What more can you ask for ?!
Yu lin (玉林)
- Machu picchu (马丘比丘): A small and chilled bar hidden in a side street off Yu Lin Nan Lu (玉林南路) with live music on the weekends. You can go there during the week and pleay video games on a gigantic screen while drinking beers !
- New little bar : The original Little Bar served for years as the capital of Chengdu’s burgeoning rock music scene but after years of building their audience, the original location wasn’t big enough to house the events that were taking place there. New Little Bar has now a capacity of about 80 patrons and features a stage and sound system that’s a dramatic upgrade from their previous offering.
I hope I could give you an insight into Chengdu’s nightlife. If you also would like to do an internship here, check out our page.
See you soon for another blog!
Party Guide #1
Chengdu is a young, vibrant and dynamic city where you can experience the fast growing economy while being deeply imbeded in the Chinese culture, this city can offer the best of both worlds. Apart from that, there is also a really diverse nightlife that caters for all different tastes of music, beer and atmosphere.
Being here for more than 2 months now, has allowed me to discover more about the different clubs and bars in this crazy city. So I decided to make a list of the best places by areas.
A must go place when living in Chengdu as an expat is the Poly Center ( 保利中心) On the daylight, this huge complex comprises commercial and residential buildings. But when the moon shows up, Poly Center is becoming Chengdu’s top nightlife destination, gathering more than 12 clubs and bars up to the top floors !
- Tag bar & Here we go : 2 clubs located on the 21st floor, allow to a great view on the city while listening to electronic music with Chengdu’s best DJs, coming from all around the world.
- Helens : a proper definition for Helens would be « perfect place for predrinks », with free drinks from 9 to 10 and really cheap amercian style food. Helens also have an other venue in Dong Men Jiao, which offers the view on the river side.
WangFuJing Rooftop : One of the best places I’ve been since I’m here. In the summer the most amazing rooftop parties take place here. Hard place to find as you have to go through a deserted shopping mall by night, (quite scary at some point) but as soon as you get there, electro music, garden, deckchairs and cocktails are awaiting!
Tong Zi Lin (桐梓林)
Tong Zi Lin is the place where most foreigners live in Chengdu, hence has a bit more westernized bar and club scene.
- Jellyfish: Very popular with foreigners (males) and Chinese (girls) alike, this is the place to work on your international relations. Often the place you go when all the clubs around are closing when the sun rises !
- Beernest: A bit more expensive than Helens, the Beernest offers a wide range of beers and crazy good burgers and fries. Nice place for predrinks and to chill by playing pool. Interesting place to go during one of their monthly networking event.
- Tongzilin swimming pool: interesting as you may have noticed, it is not even a club or a bar. But every Sunday after a long partying weekend, it becomes the place to be for every expat, creating a ‘springbreak’ atmosphere.
- Shamrock: This sports bar is popular which shows a lot live matches (rugby, AFL, NFL, etc.) and is also the home base of the local Western-Chinese rugby team. Ladies night on Fridays
Flower Town (三圣乡)
- Dojo: If you come to Chengdu for the first time, the first word you may hear when you ask for party is this definitely Dojo. This is the venue for the infamous Flower Town House-Parties. Dojo is an American style party that takes place every two months.The music on the three floors ranges from Hip Hop to Funk and Minimal to Dub Step Chengdu’s top DJs like Luna or Marco. Additionally, there is lot of other entertainment, like Beer Pong, fire shows, live visuals and a bouncy castle. The bar offers all sorts of drinks and snacks like homemade pizza and baijiu watermelon. It is really hard to get there, but then it’s definitley worth it !
Morning Bar(早上好): The Flower Town branch of the Morning Bar has a mix of open air and indoor areas to chill out. There are some live performances and even occasionally small music festival here.
To be continued…
Hi guys, this is Stephan from InternChina. As this is my last week in China before heading back to Germany for Christmas, this will be my last blog for you. In this one I will explain to you how to make dumplings on your own at home.
Last Saturday we met in our apartment with a group of friends to have a farewell dinner along with some home-made dumplings. As Leo and Amber are masters in the art of making dumplings, they were the ones teaching us. And it turned out to be a real fun night.
The Chinese name for dumplings is Jiǎo Zi. In China making and eating dumplings together is an important, traditional activity. Dumplings are made with a wrapper and a filling. The wrapper is made from flour and water, the fillings on the other hand can vary a lot.
We created 3 different fillings, one consisting of eggs and vegetables and the other two being a mixture of pork and various vegetables. So let me break down for you on how to make dumplings step by step.
Step 1: Get the wrappers. You can choose to either make them on your own or you buy some that are already prepared. We decided to get prepared wrappers and focus on the fillings.
Step 2: Prepare the fillings. Clean the meat and vegetables and cut them into small pieces. Prepare different bowls for the different fillings. If you do an egg filling, cook the eggs in advance. Then start mixing things up the way you want it to be.
Step 3: Add things like cooking wine, soy sauce, ginger, onions, salt and different spices to get the typical Chinese taste of dumplings. Don’t be shy with adding a lot of these ingredients!
Here comes the fun part. Now it is time to get the filling in the wrapper. There are various techniques to do it.
Step 4 Beginners: Put the filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold and pinch the wrapper in the middle first and then work the right and left side. At the beginning you might find it hard to do but with each one you will get better.
Step 4 Advanced: If the usual way of putting dumplings together gets boring, you can live out your whole creativity and find new forms to make some nice Jiǎo Zi.
Step 5: The final step is to get your prepared dumplings ready and cook them for around 7 minutes in boiling water. After this, get together with your friends to enjoy your hard work.
Personal Tip: Snicker-Dumplings – this is by no way a traditional Chinese dumpling, but you should still do it. Buy some snickers, cut it into pieces and get it into the wrappers. Then cook it the usual way and enjoy it as a dessert.
If you would like to do an internship with us and learn how to cook some traditional Chinese food, apply now!
Historically, Halloween is an American tradition, however it has now spread all over the world. People everywhere are dressed up as scary monsters and bloody bodies. Of course the amount of people that dress up depends on the country they live in. Here in China they don’t have a national holiday for Halloween, so when people celebrate it, they do so on the weekend and usually near places where a lot of westerners are.
In Zhuhai you could only find two places where they celebrated Halloween. One was a western bar, called London Lounge and the other was at the bar street here in Zhuhai. Nearly all InternChina Interns went to the London Lounge. Arriving at the London Lounge, a lot of people were dressed up – but mostly western people. Afterwards we headed to the second Halloween location – the bar street. All trees in the Street were full of bright pumpkins. Walking down the street of clubs, some of the Chinese people were surprised by our look. Two night clubs were decked out in scary decorations.
Some international schools in Zhuhai had Halloween parties as well, but just during the day and with a lot of small children. Not scary enough for real Halloween experts.
Preparation for Halloween wasn’t that easy in Zhuhai. The underground market seemed to have ignored Halloween and offered the same stuff as usual. Only in the western supermarket Carrefour, there was a small section of Halloween costumes and decorations. If you are well prepared – so think about what you want to wear well in advance – you could order some costumes on the internet. However face paint could be found everywhere and, together with a lot of creativity, we made up our own last-minute-Halloween costumes. The ghost was pretty much the easiest 🙂
At least we had a lot of fun, celebrating Halloween here in Zhuhai.