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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, China Business Blogs

Internship Experience – From Perth to Chengdu

Written by Claire Sadler 

From the most isolated city in the world to one of the largest cities in China

Coming from the remote city of Perth, Australia I thought interning in Chengdu would be the perfect opportunity to experience a different lifestyle.

Although when I first arrived, the difference between my coastal life and bustling Chengdu definitely gave me culture shock, this soon subsided with the excitement of being exposed to such an amazing place.

I have only been here for a month but in that time I have already made enough friends to freeload on almost every continent, eaten my weight in Sichuan cuisine and explored many parts of this beautiful city!

Experiening Chinese culture in Chengdu

Exploring Chengdu

In an attempt to explore as much as possible during my stay, I have seen so much of what Chengdu has to offer. Some of the highlights have been the infamous pandas, Dongmen Bridge, the Leshan Giant Buddha and People’s Park.

Exploring the parks in Chengdu

One funny experience of my trip though was how excited the locals at Sanxingdui Museum were when they saw Dominique and I. A crowd of at least 20 people asked for pictures because they had never seen a foreigner there before! All I could think about was how they would have shown everyone the pictures of us.

Seeing pandas at the Chengdu panda research base

My Internship

During my stay in Chengdu I’m situated in Gaoshengqiao, known for the Tibetan culture. It is crazy how even doing day to day tasks I am exposed to this culture, as I even see monks shopping in Walmart!

In terms of my placement I am completing a marketing internship with Inspiration Tech. It has been an amazing opportunity to learn new marketing skills, specifically how to effectively promote a product and create advertisements. I have also gotten the opportunity to write articles and conduct interviews, which has boosted my experience in journalism.

Internship activities with Inspiration Tech

The whole trip has been eye opening, inspiring and rewarding in so many ways. Interning in Chengdu was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget!

Do you want to experience Chengdu for yourself? Then 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!

How-to Guides

Adding an International Bank Card to WeChat Wallet

I’m sure you’ve all heard of WeChat and have managed to set up your account, however for many of you it may have ended there. Finally, after years of feeling left out of the loop, us Wai Guo Ren can saunter up to a till point and nonchalantly wave our phones at the cashier. Has anything been more thrilling than this?!
Tencent announced today that it will be accepting international bank cards as payment through WeChat wallet, meaning you no longer have to go through the hassle of opening a Chinese Bank account. This guide will help you to achieve your dreams of scanning and paying!

A Step By Step Guide

Step 1

Select the “Me” icon from the bottom menu in WeChat and then select the “Wallet” option.

WeChat Wallet Step 1

Step 2

Select “Cards” from the top menu.

WeChat Wallet Step 2

Step 3

This screen may be different for some of you but essentially you want to select “Add a new card.”

WeChat Wallet Step 3

Step 4

With this being China, you can either snap a quick pic of your card or manually enter your card number.

WeChat Wallet Step 4

Step 5

After this select your bank card. If your bank doesn’t appear go ahead and select Visa or Mastercard (whichever one is applicable) and then credit card (even if it’s a debit.)

WeChat Wallet Step 5

Step 6

You will then be asked to enter all you personal details in the following menu.

WeChat Wallet Step 6

If your region is not shown, enter your closest city, and for your phone number it’s up to you whether you use your international or Chinese number!

After entering these details your card should be connected to your WeChat!

In some cases this doesn’t allow you to transfer money from your bank account to WeChat or pay with you bank card. However it does allow you to receive money from others, so I’m sure you can ask your Chinese friends to help out if you give them some cash! Then they can transfer you the equivalent value so it’s available for you to use on WeChat!

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can see on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here.

Be sure to follow our social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

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.

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.

Charity, Cultural, Understanding Chinese culture, Zhuhai Blogs

CPAZ – Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai

Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai

We are delighted to be partnered with an organisation that is passionate about what they do. The Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai, also known as CPAZ,  work with vulnerable sectors of the community by promoting social activism and public welfare. This is seen across many different projects they operate, including the annual Come Together fundraiser.

InternChina visits CPaz

CPAZ is an official civil society organisation, and they are currently working on providing sponsorship for students in the local area. This sponsorship helps to provide students who have lost their parents and are struggling to stay in education, with tuition fees, books, and uniforms- all the necessary equipment required for basic education.

CPaz logo

The organisation was established in 2005 and legalised as a registered charity in 2010. The charity has both a local and global vision for the future, and now has over 2000 registered volunteers, 250 members, and over 20 member units. With each project, they envision better development of public and social welfare throughout China, which includes assisting the establishment of social equality in Zhuhai.

What InternChina Do

Every year, InternChina help raise money for CPAZ by hosting a bar at the annual Come Together festival. We are partners in the CTC community, and the ultimate goal is to bring people together from all cultures and walks of life to celebrate music! We raise money for great charities with 100% transparency, and we are very proud to be involved with such a brilliant cause!

 

InternChina at CTC