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How to budget for living in Taipei

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.

 

taipei skyline

Getting Started

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.

Images via YouBike and GuideToTaipei

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)!

mixed cooked vegetables in red lunchbox
Taiwan’s version of the ‘Bento Box’. Image via Formosa

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.

Chengdu Blogs, Chengdu InternChina events, Eating Out in Chengdu

Weekend Trip to Wenshu Monastery

Wenshu Monastery

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.

Wenshu Gardens

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.

Maintenance worker at Wenshu Temple

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.

Antiques Vendor and his watch dog

After looking around the monastery and the antiques market we headed back towards the temple grounds in search of some food.

The 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!

TianShuiMian

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.

GuoKui in Chengdu

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!

Dalian Blogs

Dalian Welcomes Anna

Hello! My name is Anna, and I am from Poland. Last week I started my internship with the InternChina Dalian office, as part of the Bookings and Marketing Team.

About Me

I am currently in my third year of Business Management and Chinese at University of Central Lancashire. This year is my year abroad, so I decided to spend it half on studying, half on getting work experience.

My first semester was a Chinese language course at Beijing International Studies University. It was my second time in China, and my second time at BISU! Last year I visited that university for a two weeks long summer language course, and I liked it so much I chose BISU again!

For the work experience part in China, I chose to do my internship with InternChina. As I wanted to put the theory I have learned during my two years of studying into practice, and this internship covers all subjects of my studies, it was the perfect choice!

InternChina - At the Great Wall
InternChina – At the Great Wall

Dalian vs. Beijing

When I was sure that I want to do my internship with InternChina, I found it difficult to decide on which office I should choose!

I chose Dalian because of its location – at the peninsula with a lot of beaches, places for hiking and greenery, and because of its history. Dalian is definitely a very beautiful city with many cultures mixed up, which can be seen in the architecture and food.

Because of Russian and Japanese occupations, Dalian has many buildings and public places in the style of those countries. Beijing is much more homogeneous in style, thus it has more developed areas with new Western-style buildings along with suburban areas with old, grey and boring blocks.

Food in Dalian is very influenced by Korean, Japanese and Russian cuisine. I really love that variety. But the main cooking style is Shandong cuisine, with the influence of North-Eastern Chinese cuisine. This means there is a huge choice of seafood from casual fish and prawns to more sophisticated (at least for Westerners!) dishes like sea cucumber or sea urchins.

What I really like in Dalian is that it is a much less busy and crowded city than Beijing. On the streets there are much fewer people and cars, and the queues in shops are shorter.

Differences in Beijing and Dalian

One big difference between Beijing and Dalian is the subway link. I am used to travelling everywhere by Beijing subway as it is the most convenient and foreigner-friendly means of transport. On the train, you can see a board with stations in Chinese characters and Pinyin, and which station the train is approaching as well as hearing the announcement in both Chinese and English.

The Dalian subway is not that well-developed, and my apartment is not located near any metro station. But do I have a bus stop very close to my house with busses leaving every couple of minutes. The announcements are all in Chinese, so I have an opportunity to perfect my Chinese listening skills!

I have already fallen in love with the winter scenery of Dalian, with snow and all the colourful lights on buildings at night. However, I am really looking forward to warm days to explore Dalian’s most beautiful places and learn more about culture and history of that city!

If you want to be a part of the InternChina story, why not apply now!

Chengdu Blogs, Chengdu Business, Chengdu InternChina events, Eating Out in Chengdu

Internship Experience – Sylvia in Chengdu

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!

The City

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.

Chengdu Panda Research Panda Base

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.

Internship experience and exploring Chengdu

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.

The Internship

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!

Intern activities

The People

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.

InternChina Chengdu Thursday dinner

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!

Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China, Things To Do in Zhuhai, Zhuhai Blogs

PMSA New Zealand – Zhuhai Cultural Programme

by Nick Goldstein  

Two Week PMSA Language and Culture Programme

PMSA zhuahi

I’m not a very good writer, but when asked to write a piece on my first two weeks in Zhuhai as part of the PMSA Programme I volunteered. Not only because I want to get better, but because coming here under InternChina’s culture and internship program taught me the value of doing things you are scared of. That’s why I ended up here writing about InternChina’s program, having already wasted the first 60 words.

The first two weeks were packed! My personal highlights were tea making, calligraphy and Tai Chi classes. Although lots of fun, I also learned a lot. Much like learning about the history of your country helps you understand it today, learning about the details of Chinese culture helped me understand the big picture (it’s a really big picture!)

During this time, we visited two companies operating in the free trade zone. In the same way as our cultural activities, learning about the companies taught me not only about the company itself, its processes and operations, but also the way western firms interact with Chinese. I saw two models, although on the surface very similar, in practice very different, and I felt the difference. If I were to set up an operation in China, I know what I would do differently.

Language Classes

Part of the program was two weeks of intensive language classes. 3 hours a day in a room with other kiwis trying to learn Chinese was invaluable, and although my Chinese is not comprehensive, it is enough to make a contribution to the language gap. In China, at least where I am, the effort is more appreciated than required.

Homestay Experience

The third part of the program was the homestay experience. Make no mistake this was an experience, living with my own family was difficult enough, someone else’s is downright terrifying. Despite this, however, the most valuable aspect of the course was the homestay. Visiting companies and learning about culture is useful, but you only learn so much by teaching. Living in a homestay opened me up to the culture, exposing me to the intricacies.

Examples of what I have learnt are 1. That, at least in my family, no matter how loud your child’s friend is screaming, you don’t tell them off and 2. People really don’t like it when you wear shoes in the house, like REALLY don’t like it!

homestay

What I’ve Learnt

Jokes aside, I learned about the details of the culture, and I have made friends that I will take back to New Zealand. Reflecting on the past fortnight I think the most valuable thing I have learnt are soft skills. Cultural appreciation, empathy, an understanding of the Chinese approach, and an ability to work in Chinese culture, as well as, I believe, an improved ability to work with any culture. I think the friends, contacts and memories I have made are all important. Overwhelmingly, however, participating in this program has been mostly beneficial to my appreciation of different cultures, expanding my mindset.

All You Need to Know, Discover Chinese culture, Events in Qingdao, Learn about China, Qingdao Blogs, Qingdao InternChina Events, Things To Do in Qingdao, Weekend Trips

More Than Just an Internship – What We Do in Qingdao!

InternChina – More than just an internship!

But what does this really mean in Qingdao? It means weekly dinners, activities and 24/7 support!

I’ve been an office intern for about 3 months now, so I hope I can explain this for you!

During your programme, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to do an internship in China, but that’s not the only think you’ll experience during your time in Qingdao! The InternChina team will organise lots of dinners and activities for you. This is so we can get to know you better, make you feel comfortable in this new country, and give you a chance to meet amazing people! And if you love travelling, there are plenty of great destinations we can help you visit that aren’t too far from Qingdao!

As a Qingdao office intern, I have the opportunity to organise the dinners and trips for our participants. I’ll tell you more about it, so you’ll have an idea of the amazing things you may get the chance to do, and you can discover more about Qingdao.

If you have anything you want to do around Qingdao, just let a member of InternChina know and we can try our best to organise this for you!

Food

Every week we organise one of our famous “Thursday Dinners.”

This is a social event, to share a group meal, discover new Asian cuisine and talk about our week! We understand that you are students, so don’t worry- we try to make these dinners affordable! Usually, we try to avoid expensive restaurants, but they are always tasty. We usually stick to a budget of 50RMB per person, and sometimes this is even less.

How do we organise these dinners? Usually we make a post on our official Qingdao InternChina WeChat account, or we post in our IC Qingdao group chat.

We’ll give you some more details about the restaurant, the cuisine, the food, the time and the location of the dinner. If you’re interested in coming along, then simply join the dinner group by scanning the QR code we’ll provide! This helps us know how many people want to come along, so we can book a table. During the summer, we can have more than 30 people for dinner!

But it’s our job to organise this- all you need to do is scan the QR code and join! How easy is that?

Activities

After a week of working hard during your internship, we’re sure you’ll look forward to exploring Qingdao at the weekend! There is so much to do and discover in Qingdao, and we understand that you want to get out there, so we organise lots of activities and trips for you!

We try to organise a new activity every weekend, and just like the dinners, we try to make sure these activities are all affordable so you can take part in as much as you can.

What can Qingdao offer you? There are lots of fun tourist activities,such as the Tsingtao Beer Museum, the TV Tower, the zoo, the aquarium, the Huadong Vineyard. However, we also want to make sure you see the natural beauty in Qingdao! Outdoor activities such as hiking Fushan or Laoshan with our guide Green Tea, bouldering, archery, go karting are always popular, especially during the summer.

We also want you to learn about the Chinese culture while you are here, so we organise cultural activities such as calligraphy classes, Chinese cooking lessons, tea ceremonies, or even Kung Fu lessons!

There are different things to do during different seasons, so you may also get to attend the German Christmas Market, or some opening ceremonies!

You will definitely never be bored, with plenty of activities available for you to explore the city, have fun, and network!

Trips

We also try to organise some weekend trips for you to discover other cities in China.

Recently, we organised a weekend trip to Beijing- after all, it would be a shame to come to China and not visit the Great Wall! In the past we have also organised trips to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Qufu… the possibilities are endless!

For any weekend trips we organise, we will provide you with a detailed schedule so you can make the most of your time in each city! We will also let you know how much each trip will cost, and this will include your transport, accommodation and activities for the weekend. It will cost more than a regular Saturday Event, but it is definitely worth going and exploring more of China!

 

Support

The InternChina team offer you 24/7 support while you are on place, and we are also here for you before and after your time in China!

When you arrive, we will pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your accommodation, whether is an apartment or a homestay. We’ll also give you an orientation to help you understand Chinese culture, and give you some advice about living in Qingdao.

You will receive a welcome pack, which includes a SIM card, travel card, map of the city, and address card and some InternChina goodies!

We are here for you whenever you need us!

Moreover, our team on place is also always here to support you! When you arrive we will give you an orientation, in order to make you understand Chinese culture, and give you lots of advice! If you feel sick, we will come with you to the hospital! If you have any other issues, we are here to help if we can!

InternChina’s Favourite Places 

When you are new to Qingdao, and don’t know where to go or what to see, we’re here to tell you where to go! Below is a list of my favourite places- you can even impress your colleagues with your Qingdao knowledge and invite them along!

Magic Eggplant – or the best Chinese restaurant ever! 美达尔大尧三路店 – Dayao San Road

ChunChuan Iron Plate – best Korean restaurant! 青岛市崂山区苗岭路  瑞纳花园内 Miao Ling Road

Huadong Winery – a beautiful vineyard, where you can visit the museum,the caves and try some wine at the end! 南龙口崂山Nanlong Kou, Lao Shan

ZhongShan Park – an amazing park where you can easily walk around for hours! The zoo is right next to it if you want to see a panda! 市南区文登路28号 Wen Deng Road

I hope these details and pictures convinced you that InternChina has so much more than just an internship to offer you! You’ll never feel alone, and this experience will be unforgettable!

The easiest way to join us is to apply now!

 

Travel, Weekend Trips, Zhuhai Blogs

Rural Tangkou Community Project – A Kiwi Trip to the Country

by Kim Whitwell
For the first weekend in December, 19 InternChina staff and interns travelled overland to the rural area of Kaiping, China to experience the rural offerings of historic diaolou country.

tangkou trip

Setting off from Zhuhai, we all made our introductions and settled into getting to know each other. It was the first group trip the PMSA Kiwi students were involved in since landing a week earlier, so friendships were formed pretty early on.

Tangkou Community Project

Met by our tour guide Peter, and newly opened hostel owner Rocky in Tangkou, the group arrived just in time for a cooked lunch made with local produce from the area. Bellies full, and smiles on our faces for the blue skies and green scenery Kaiping was providing for us, we jumped on our bikes and followed Peter for the first of our diaolou tours.

hostel stay

Diaolous are fortified watchtowers built by the overseas Chinese in order to protect their rural home towns. To ensure their families were safe during mass emigration in the 20th century, overseas Chinese sent money back from afar to build them.

Displayed to the public, the presence of dialous are a marker of Chinese history and heritage. It reflects the rich culture and influences from both immigration (styles of décor in the diaolous show western influence) and emigration.

dialou

We wove in and out of rice fields all at the many different stages of cropping. Peter provided the knowledge and the various rural communities provided the photo opportunities. We all soaked in the authentic appearance and operations of the locals who went about their daily business with little more than a “ni hao!” in response to ours. We saw drying bok choy, rice husking, traditional instrument playing and oxen all within an hour.

On return to the hostel, we settled into the night on the roof top area watching the last of the sunlight fade. The hostel kitchen provided another extremely delicious meal, which some interns helped prepare. After, Peter captivated us with more of his extensive and passionate knowledge of diaolou country.

More chat, more beers and more laughter followed well into the night with a great time had by all . The immaculate hostel providing the most comfortable place to lay our heads for the night.

Day Two

Day two arose with breakfast (a personal highlight) of both Chinese and Western cuisine (peanut butter on toast)! Then onto the bus we hopped to travel to some unique UNESCO sites in the local areas.

Bamboo forests and a local wedding greeted us at our first stop. Peter continued his extensive commentary on the history and significance of diaolous, mansions and operations in the local villages. Stop number two provided the Instagram opportunities! Lunch back at the hostel concluded our weekend in Kaiping. Bellies full once more, smiles a plenty and memories made, we filed back onto the bus and travelled a fairly sleepy and quiet journey home.

The Area

Kaiping is an authentic display of Chinese rural life that draws you into a time machine back 30 years. The attractions aren’t crowded or over commercialised so the experiences you have are very much genuine. Peter’s knowledge of the area and history behind it was captivating. He helped bring to life a part of the world not well known or considered in the tourism industry. Rocky has created an accommodation space that also feels genuine and homely. Utilising the infrastructure provided by history within the area the place is quirky and unique. If you are looking for a relaxing, yet interesting, time out from city life, this trip is for you.

Uncategorised

Calligraphy from the sight of a lefty

Qingdaos proud Calligrapy Show Participants
Gathered with their writings all the participants of the Qingdao calligraphy show

One of my most impregnable memories

Nearly everyone has seen Chinese calligraphy in their lifetime. One of these framed “paintings” that are hanging from the walls of living rooms of this world. Mostly in flats of people that have some connection with Asia. However, most people don’t know what the beautiful looking characters stand for or their meaning. But this doesn’t really matter, does it? In fact, some of the drawings may not have any meaning at all, or are not the real deal. Like these Chinese tattoos that mean something like “big pig” or “annoying western dude that payed only 50 bucks for this tattoo”.

Being belittled

But nevertheless, at Qingdao University they provide classes in Chinese calligraphy. As I am interested in arts and drawing, I could not help but register. The first class was chastening, completely in chinese, everyone equipped with a complete set. Containing at least one calligraphy brush, ink, a felt-mat, a small cup for the ink and special paper. I did not have any of the mentioned tools. Also for your information, every child in china that went to school had at least one class in calligraphy. The teacher took this as a reason to politely ask me if I not better want to attend kid’s classes. Translation: “What the heck are you doing here? Get out of this class!”

Motivation

If someone tells me I can’t do something, it will motivate me to do it! Outright I went out to get the full set of equipment. Some always smiling old lady sold me what i needed. The total package cost about 160 RMB, not too much. Brush and ink are the “expensive” parts, but for your knowledge: you can spend quite a fortune on brushes, depending on the material. Most commonly sheep hair is used, but also fox, badger or Miniver. Depending on the style of the calligraphy different types exist. The ink plays also an important role, it should be of a certain consistency depending on the paper. You can make the ink thinner or thicker by adding water by yourself. Experience is the only teacher to let you master this.

Brush-rag with a variety of different brushes from thick to thin
Different types of calligraphy brushes in a typical brush rag

Drawing with my brush

You must follow the order of strokes. The brushwork must always to be according to the regulations. Depending on how you turn your brush your character will have a certain shape. Also depending on the different style of calligraphy you either must draw a character in one go, or the lines should have a certain look. Every single stroke also has a different Name, which I really could not manage to learn. I was happy to be able to properly hold the brush. It is not at all as I thought in the beginning. I thought you just ink your brush and start drawing and that’s it. It needs skill! Slowly I started to understand why it is a highly reputable art in China. People will gather around calligraphy masters and watch them writing. This can be highly satisfying and relaxing.

Apreciation begins

People will pay a high price to be able to claim one of the calligraphy pieces their own. People honour a 书法家 shū jiā (Calligraphy master) like a celebrity. In the beginning I smiled at this but the more I got to know about the whole topic the quieter I got. There is a reason why there are museums all over China containing calligraphy from over the centuries. It really is a form of art which takes many years of practice to master. I won’t talk about the whole art and history as well as the different styles that exist, because if I would do so, I would need pages and still not be near to  finish this blog.

 

writing characters with my left hand, sometimes rewarding, sometimes chalenging
writing characters with my left hand, sometimes rewarding, sometimes chalenging

Being lefthanded

For traditional calligraphy in China one rule applies: You should not use your left hand to write. But as a lefthanded person I cannot obey this guideline. You might think now being lefthanded would be a disadvantage but it is not. Because some of the strokes are easier for lefthanded because of the stroke direction. The teacher seemed impressed by some of the characters. I had a good time, people would continue to comment on which hand I use for writing. It is the same when people see a colour blind or somoeone wearing glasses, and the come over being like: “what colour does this have to you?” or “how can you read without glasses?” In my case: “wow…you use the left hand to write?” “Wow your gift of observation is impressive!” On one hand annoying yes, on the other hand  earned me a trip to a calligraphy exhibition and competition.

 

The proud foreign calligraphy aprentices, the difference of the quality of painting should be noticable
The proud foreign calligraphy aprentices, the difference of the quality of painting should be noticable

Taking part in a “Competition”

The exhibition and competition was one of my early adventures in China. With a few other foreigners we were “shipped” to an elite school outside Qingdao. We gathered in a huge gym. With us hundreds of kids and students and tables with equipment. The National Anthem played then the kids performed dances and choreography. We had to sit in the front and write a short (practiced in advance) sentence to present our skills. With us some other foreign students from another University arrived. They never had a lesson in calligraphy and first time in their life a brush in their hand. Their purpose was to let the competition appear more international. We had to make “snapshot”-pictures with some of the invited calligraphy masters. All of us had to show our great interest in what the calligrapy masters showed us. Some guys even tried to interview me on camera.

The well renowend honourful calligraphy master whose name i forgott, teaching us foreigners
The well renowened honourful calligraphy master whose name I happened to  forget, teaching us foreigners

Memory

Photographers, shouting, a flashlight thunderstorm.People looking at me while I was writing characters with a shivering hand. Standing there and listening to the chinese national Anthem. Going inside this elite school, with fence and guards. And the best part, the journey was about 3  hours, the activity was not even 1. All in all it was kind of akward, but also very cool and a glimpse of the things that would await me in China. I also recieved a nice personal signature stamp, out of marble and with my name engraved. Now I can personally sign my left-hand-writings. And will try to improve my calligraphy skills further, although it is time-consuming. However it will forever stay a remarcable memory for me.

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