If you’re lucky enough to be interning in Qingdao, and you have a multiple entry visa or are looking to renew your current visa, you can take a short vacay to South Korea and explore the incredible city of Seoul.
With the journey only lasting just over an hour and 16 flights every day at reasonable prices, there is no excuse not to visit! I marked the half waypoint of my internship by heading to the Land of the Morning Calm for a weekend of shopping, sightseeing and eating all the delicious Korean food in sight!
This blog post outlines some of the main attractions in Seoul, and also personal opinions from my visit to the city in July.
A wide variety of accommodation is available in Seoul, from quirky hostels to Gangnam style luxury hotels! Personally I always prefer to stay in hostels, especially when I am solo travelling, as it gives you a greater chance to meet new people to explore with. I checked into a clean and tidy 4-bed dorm in a cute little hostel in the university district of Hongdae. It cost less than $10 a night and was a great base to explore the city and experience Seoul’s crazy nightlife! Here is a cool site which gives you some tips on where to stay in Seoul: https://triphappy.com/seoul/where-to-stay/84746.
There are tonnes of sights to see in Seoul and the surrounding area, including Gyeongbok Palace, Insadong, Itaewon, War Memorial and the Blue Palace. For me, the key attraction was a tour to the DMZ; to see the border of North Korea with my own eyes, and hear the stories of war from local people.
My visit to the DMZ included visits to the Imjingak Park, where the Freedom Bridge to the North is located. It is hoped that one day the bridge will be opened and people will be able to travel freely between the North and South. It is quite a surreal environment, as you are constantly aware that the world’s last isolated nation is so close, yet it is also very commercialised with a range of shops, restaurants and fairground rides in the area. Other major sights include the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, where North Korean soldiers tried to invade the South by using explosives to create a direct route to Seoul. A number of these tunnels have been found, but the 3rd is the most popular one to visit, as it is the longest and deepest. The North have previously claimed that they are natural formations…
The tour concluded with a visit to the Dorasan Observatory, on a hilltop looking toward the North. There are a series of binoculars allowing you to view the nearest village in the North, Kijŏng-Dong or Peace Village. During my visit, it was quite surreal to see normal people in the street going about their daily business through the binoculars. Dorasan Station is nearby with the tracks already in place for trains to start travelling to Pyongyang.
You can do the DMZ tour comfortably in half a day (with an early start), so once you arrive back in Seoul you have the whole afternoon to explore the city. The sobering Korean War Memorial should be next on your to do list. More of an extensive museum than memorial, with huge military displays of tanks, planes and guns. Given the high tensions on the Korean peninsula, and that a peace agreement has never actually been signed, the Korean War Memorial is a very relevant attraction to visit.
The city is also to home to Gyeongbok Palace, which is probably the most famous in Korea. It’s located at the end of Sejongro, and is also nearby the Blue House (President’s residence) and Bukchon Village. The palace was built in the late 1300s, and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times since. It is a beautiful spot, and you can spend a few hours wandering around the grounds admiring the traditional Korean architecture.
No trip to Seoul would be complete without a spot of shopping. Three major department stores dominate the shopping scene: Lotte, Shingsegae and Hyundai. You can purchase a variety of goods within these stores, from clothing to make up to Korea’s beloved kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage). Wide, straight boulevards dominate the city, but a quick wander into the little laneways in their shadows and you will find plentiful quirky Korean stores, selling all kinds of merchandise. Aside from the department stores, expat-friendly Itaewon and Insadong are also very worthy of a visit to pick up more authentic Korean goods.
Seoul is frequently regarded as a world leader in cosmetics: it is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of skincare, due to the high tech ingredients and futuristic formulations. Therefore if cosmetics are on your to purchase list, your first stop should be Myeong-dong to explore the hundreds of beauty boutiques that occupy the narrow streets. Popular K-beauty brands like Innisfree, Face Shop and Etude House are in their abundance, with enthusiastic staff welcoming you in store with offers of free facemasks and samples galore.
One last of the last things I would recommend tourists do in the city is visit the four main animal cafes. You can go to dog, cat, sheep and raccoon cafés in Seoul! As a massive dog lover, I went to Bau Hause where you can cuddle over 20 different dogs ranging from Chihuahuas to Golden Retrievers. The café is divided in to small and large sections so you can spend time with whatever dogs you are most comfortable with, all whilst enjoying a coffee!
Finally, Seoul is an amazing city with plenty to do, tasty food and incredibly kind people. If you’re interning in Qingdao, with a multiple entry visa or looking to renew your current visa, and fancy a short break away you should definitely consider a visit to the city with soul!
It’s not a secret that among the Chinese elite there is a move towards emigration. Even though China is growing every year, it’s still not enough for some of the Chinese and they choose to relocate. Reasons include the ever-growing pollution problems in China, the relative freedom that some countries provide (USA), the higher standard of living and the access of better higher education and the ongoing anti-corruption campaign focused on China’s wealthy and powerful.
A survey made by Hurun (a research company that studies trends in China) concludes that almost two thirds of Chinese with more than 10 million Yuan in their bank accounts have emigrated or are thinking of emigrating. This idea is less popular among the super rich (with more than 100 million Yuan), with just a third admitting to having these ideas. But the growing economy in China has produced an increasing number of middle class and many of them feel like moving abroad for a better life.
For example there has been a dramatic increase in the special EB-5 Visa for the USA. The country’s officials are overwhelmed with applicants mainly from China. If a foreigner is able to commit $500,000 and creates 10 jobs in America, he can get this type of investor immigrant visa. Chinese nationals account for 80% of the visas issued, compared to 13% just a decade ago. That makes for 7000 visas issued for rich Chinese emigrants last year compared to just 16 visas granted in 2004. The program is potentially oversubscribed and could suffer the same fate as did the Canadian government for a similar program which was closed having been victim of its own success.
But the local tax man is closing in too. In China, under the rule of President Xi Jinping, the anti –corruption movement now targets wealthy Chinese who try to move their riches abroad. The Bank of China was accused of helping rich Chinese to conduct money laundering and skip controls of how much cash can be moved from the country. It is one of the first times that a state institution has been publicly accused of wrongdoing. The outflow of cash is taking place even though Beijing’s rule that limits money transfers of an individual out of china to $50,000 per year. Bank of China is not the only way the wealthy in China use to move their funds abroad. Many people purchase fine art or use Macau’s casinos which allegedly turn over seven times the amount of Las Vegas.
Interest in popular destinations like the USA is due to the lower investment amount and the access to high quality education and a cleaner environment.
Europe also represents a popular destination. Many countries are moving towards accepting more investment from abroad. Countries in Europe that were struggling from the global financial crisis are accepting easy money from foreign investors. Cyprus for example is offering a residency visa to anyone willing to commit 300,000 Euros. Portugal has a similar approach with 500,000 Euros. For Greece the permit is just $250,000 for five-year residency permit.
Another destination of choice is Australia. It has launched program similar to the other big countries but in this case the requirement for investment is much higher – $4.5 million. Since the scheme began in 2012, 91% of the applicants have been Chinese nationals.
Even though some of the Chinese elite are planning to move abroad – only a minority are actually giving up their Chinese nationality. They keep to their roots and hope for better times when they can return back to the homeland.
Hi, my name is Shona and I am a “qingdaoren”. I am still doing a master degree of biotechnology in Australia and having my summer vacation. But for the next two months I am an intern in InternChina’s Qingdao office.
When I first went to Australia, I was offered lots of help from my agency and host family. In the first few months, it was difficult, especially for the language, as English is not my mother tongue. My agency and homestay family members helped me with almost everything, from visa to housing and eating. With their help, I got used to the life there fast.
Before coming back, I decided to find an internship in Qingdao in these winter months. When I was searching for job vacancies, InternChina caught my attention. I am interested in this field and this is kind of a chance for me to return the favor. In this way, I can assist the interns to settle down in a new city, just in the same way as others helped me.
I applied for the position hoping to become a member of the team. Through the communication with Yifan, Leo and Jack, I thought this is the team that I was looking for. And after joining the team, I was impressed by their kindness and enthusiasm. They offered every single detail for the interns, from the SIM card for cell phone to the bus line traveling from their home to the host company.
I believe I can learn a lot from them and I am looking forward to having a great time and internship experience here.
Do you want to experience China with Shona and the rest of the InternChina Team? Then apply now!
I am Philippe Touzin and I am the newly appointed InternChina Office Manager in Zhuhai. So if you come over to Zhuhai we will definitely meet and get to know each other!
Currently I am in the UK, London, waiting to have my working Visa/permanent residence (Z Visa)-and i received it today thus ready to head back to China!
I would like to introduce briefly to you all the process for Interns such as yourselves on how to acquire the correct Visas, for more details, have a look here, http://internchina.org/en/info/included.
Once you have signed the contract with InternChina for an internship in a company of your choice, we will then send you an Invitation Letter.
This letter is the document you need to apply at your local Chinese embassy or Visa center, you will be applying for a F Visa. This is the appropriate Visa for an Internship as set by Chinese government.
So with our letter its simple to go, apply and then travel to China! You can chose in your application to have several entry or double or single entry Visa, apply for the one you wish, but i suggest a multi-entry visa, so that you enjoy the joys of Hong-Kong and Macao! However the Chinese embassy constantly change their regulations and they are the ones to have the last word in how many entries you receive…but don’t worry you’ll have a great time in any case. :D. Professionally and Socially.
I hope you all had great Festivities!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!