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Work Experience + Meeting New Friends

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What did you do at work, did your work experience help you confirm your career path?

I worked as a research intern, so I was involved in a collaborative research paper looking at why Cambodian high school students don’t want to study STEM subjects at university. I really enjoyed the work I did, I felt like it was meaningful and would be used to make change here in Cambodia and actually I really enjoyed working in research. In terms of career path, I think I learnt a lot, gained so many new skills but I have realized I can’t do a desk job for the rest of my life. I feel so inactive and I think it would be good to be involved with work on the ground level with hands on experience. Whereas working from a desk gives you more of a general overview of a situation.

 

Was it easy or hard to meet other people in Phnom Penh? Were your friends local or expats? What did you take away culturally from the experience?

It was easier than I expected to talk to locals here but most of my friends were western. I knew a boy from my uni was coming to work here and I became really close with Bea (another intern). I think it was quite easy to meet new people here because we are all in the same boat. We are all coming from abroad and working here trying to learn and embrace the culture, so we all have that in common. Everyone is super friendly and just start conversations with you too. Culturally I took away the food and the lifestyle here of getting up earlier to get more things done

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Living in Cambodia - Food, culture shock, travel

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1. What is a typical day in Phnom Penh?

A typical day for me would be to wake up, go to work from 8am-5pm, come back to the apartment and get changed. Usually I do an evening activity with friends such as going to the cinema, bowling, walking to riverside, grabbing drinks at one of the many sky bars. On occasion I’ll not go out and do a bit of food shopping and watch a movie in the apartment or read before going to bed.

2. What do I normally do for dinner?

Sometimes I cook food in my apartment, but street food is so cheap and tasty here. Luckily for me I live directly opposite a little market so there is always so many food options around me. Normally at home in England, I don’t eat meat that often at all but in Cambodia it is quite hard to avoid. At first, I was a bit wary about the street food, worrying if it was safe to eat etc. but once you push these preconceptions and worries aside, you find some really delicious food. One of my favorites has been the Cambodian porridge “borbor” which is a rice dish with chicken in it (nothing like English porridge I am used to) but actually it’s so good and only costs $1 a bowl.

3. How many places have I visited, what was my favorite trip and why?

I’ve been incredibly lucky with how much of Cambodia I have been able to see in such a short amount of time. I’ve visited both Kep and Kampot twice, once with friends and once as part of a work retreat. I’ve also been to Siem Reap, Mondulkiri, Siahnoukville, and Kampong Speu. At the end of my time here I will also be visiting Vietnam for a few days before returning back to Phnom Penh to fly back to England.

All of these places were beautiful in their own way but I think Mondulkiri was my favorite trip. Our homestay had no power, no showers, just a bucket and freezing cold water, no proper toilets, we had a huge ant infestation throughout the night, we all ran out of clean clothes and had about 4 hours sleep for the whole weekend. But it was so nice to escape the city and see green for miles on end and to explore the jungle. We were able to see a wild elephant up close and feed her bananas, and clean her in the river. We also helped to make bamboo soup with ingredients from the forest. The friends I went with made the trip so worth it, we just laughed through everything the entire time.

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Elephant In The Wild

4. What is the biggest culture shock? How did I overcome a culture shock and transition?

For me the biggest culture shock was how much meat is consumed in Cambodia, it’s served with every meal and usually there are little to no vegetarian options. I really started to miss vegetarian food because at home I only eat meat once or twice a week so that has been hard for me to adjust to. Similarly, the amount of plastic used in Cambodia really shocked me, every food stall sells their food in polystyrene containers, in a plastic bag but everything comes individually wrapped in plastic. All the fruit and veg in supermarkets comes wrapped in plastic and on the polystyrene trays. Even all the drinks sold in plastic cups come with plastic straws are then put into a little plastic bag to carry it. I found just the amount of plastic use and waste very shocking and a lot of it rather unnecessary. But I think Europe must have been the same a few years ago so maybe attitudes here will start to change soon or alternatives to plastic packaging will come around.

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Evan's First Week In Cambodia

I’ve just completed my first week in Cambodia and I have to say it’s not what I expected. Having visited China in the past, I had this preconceived idea that Cambodia would be very similar but perhaps a little poorer with less infrastructure. In some ways this is true with similar restaurants, shops and amazing scenery but it is also very different.

 Trying new snacks

Trying new snacks

Having lived here for a week, especially not in a touristy location, I’ve had a very different experience to the one I had in China. People here are much friendlier and much more willing to forgive my terrible attempts at Khmer.

My flat is small but quaint with all the basic amenities, but in fairness I wouldn’t ask for much else because I don’t spend much time there. There are so many amazing things to see and do outside, so I prefer to spend my time away from home. One of the best experiences so far is the food, whether it’s from a small cart on the side of the road or a nice restaurant, all the food here has been incredible and I’ve made it my sole mission to try It all; and with prices usually so low eating out really doesn’t have to be a once a week treat.

Living in Cambodia though has brought up some challenges as well though; for example I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the strange money system, the seeming obsession of using rice at every meal or the crazy weather. I’m not sure I could name one time since being here where I haven’t been sweating or it being on the cusp of a torrential downpour which makes getting around – interesting.

So far I have loved living here and look forward to experiencing much more of the local culture in Phnom Penh.

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7 Must Have Skills to Be Guaranteed a Job After Graduation

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7 Must Have Skills to Be Guaranteed a Job After Graduation

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Once considered a path for the intellectual, enrollments to universities and colleges around the world are at all-time highs. This, of course, means that a record number of graduating students are finishing their degrees and searching for relevant jobs. Competition for such positions has never been so fierce. While obtaining such a sought-after position may be a little more difficult in the modern day, that doesn’t mean the opportunity is off limits to you.

With the right skills, you can drastically improve your chances. We’ve put together 7 must-have skills as viewed by management and recruiters across a range of industries.

 

Cultural Agility

In the modern day, the majority of businesses are often operating in a global environment. Whether through clientele, outsourcing projects or ordering supplies from abroad, it’s likely you’ll encounter foreign cultures in some respect. To succeed in such an environment, it’s necessary to have an understanding of cultural norms and to be culturally sensitive. Business practices invariably change from one culture to another. The understanding of these differences could mean the difference between obtaining or losing prospective business.

 

Communication Skills

Communication can take many forms and is viewed as one of the key attributes an employee must have by recruiters. The spread of ideas, the sharing of information and the resolving of conflicts are all part of communication that can take place both internally and outside an organization. This can also include the aforementioned cultural knowledge and communication across a range of cultures and business environments.

 Teamwork

Perhaps the most important of all attributes for prospective employees to possess is the ability to work as part of a team. This means co-operating on projects and addressing issues as they arise, ensuring small problems don’t escalate. It also means managing conflicts. Not only conflicts with the work itself but clashes between personalities and personal agendas.

 

Leadership

Perhaps a graduate fresh out of college wouldn’t expect leadership to be a trait they are judged on. They’d be wrong. Leadership can take various forms and isn’t solely reserved for upper management or ownership. The ability and confidence to make decisions is one aspect of leadership, as is encouraging and motivating fellow employees. This doesn’t have to take a verbal form, but can be demonstrated through commitment and dedication to the task. Delegation of tasks is another essential component of effective leadership, something new employees should already be looking at executing.

Organization

The ability to plan and prioritize work leads to efficiency in the workplace (a major corporate buzzword) and ensures the most important tasks are delivered first. Deadlines have to be met and how you demonstrate your ability to meet them will be taken into account. While organization comes naturally to some, there’s no doubt it’s a learnable/teachable skill. If you can demonstrate this effectively, starting with your resume, you’ll get a considerable jump-start on the competition.

 

Specific Technical Skills/Knowledge

Gone are the days where it paid to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. In our current day and age, corporations look for highly skilled individuals, with expertise in 1 or 2 specific areas. Obviously, it pays to build this expertise for the position you wish to apply for.

School specific training isn’t necessarily adequate to demonstrate this, practical and extra-curricular coursework/training is viewed favorably.

 

Ability to Analyze Data

The need to understand analytics is essential to most industries. Whether you are working in a field such as marketing, law or human resources, part of your position will involve data analysis in some aspect. Whether it be analyzing the performance of a marketing budget or understanding demographics of your target customers, numbers allow a more effective service or product to be delivered.

It is essential to give yourself an evaluation of the 7 areas listed above and determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Perhaps with the help of a trusted source who knows you well. In the areas you lack, it’s a good idea to take a course or study relevant material that will allow you to improve. While it’s better to excel in a few select skills rather than be average or above average at all of them, it’s also important not to forego competence in any.

By focusing on the 7 skills highlighted above, you’re drastically improving the chances of landing the job you’ve spent such a long time studying for.

Are there any other skills you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Join our China Internship Program and Take the time to develop your professional skill sets. Contact Miranda for more information at mm@mychinaopportunity.com or find more information here

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Fashion Design Internship in China

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Fashion Design Internship in China

1.What is the difference between working in China vs U.S?

The main difference would be the mentality towards work and stress on the job. People work very hard but, are more patient. In the states it feels like it there is more pressure because there is less time in an overall work day to finish what needs to be done.

As workdays on average run 10-12 hours (with 1-2 hour lunch), most people are able to complete what they need to rather than rushing like how they do in the states (where there it is usually 7-8 hours for most jobs with a 30 mins-1hr lunch break).

2.How has your internship affected your perspective about your major?

As I am 3 months into my 6 months co-op my perspective about my major has not really changed. No matter where you go, any work that requires research, drafting, samples,  patterning, construction, scaling (grading patterns to different sizes ex: s, m, l, custom), and marketing will be very time-consuming.

My perspective has not changed, but I am now able to accept that it is a demanding career, even for people who are more experienced. However, it is still something I wish to pursue in the long run.

3. What is the typical work day like?

As a design intern, my duties are rarely the same on a day to day basis so I cannot really say. My boss creates assignments for me based on incoming orders or her new projects. But some assignments will be repeated every 2 weeks (when the materials I have prepped have run out).

4. What do you do at work?

At my internship I  make patterns by hand, make copies of patterns, making patterns on adobe illustrator, do retail analysis, cut pieces for assembly, design/make sleeping masks, take photos for my boss’ presentations, create reference catalogs (by taking measurements from her samples and from the finished patterns), and help her with anything else in the office in order to increase production.

5. New skills/ what I have learned at the studio?

At the studio, I have gotten some hands-on experience prepping and working with silk. As it is a new material I haven’t really worked with, getting a “fabric hand” for it is an asset.

As of right now I can loop turn the bias straps I have been cutting (as her straps are couture quality and a normal loop turner will not fit inside, I have to use a needle to do this). I have also learned a few shortcuts on adobe illustrator on scaling.

6. What product would you recommend to others?

At work, we use Chalko liners by Clover with a wheel dispenser. I feel as if it is easier to use and easier to take off from the fabric compared to chalk pencils. I have used chalk paper before which is very useful for pinwheel tracers but depending what color you use, it can be very difficult to remove the marks.

Need Help Finding Your Own Fashion Internship in China? Contact Us at info@mychinaopportunity.com or Apply

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10 ways to connect with the local culture when interning, traveling, or living abroad

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10 ways to connect with the local culture when interning, traveling, or living abroad

To the travelers of the world, rather than the tourists, a cultural experience means something a little different.

Rather than visiting the famous landmarks, museums and renowned historical sights of a region and then moving on, travelers prefer to immerse themselves in a new environment to gain a deeper understanding as to how others live around the world. Here are 10 ways you can go about connecting with a local culture on your next trip abroad;

Volunteer: The popularity of volunteering abroad has sky-rocketed in recent years, and for good reason.

Firstly, you’re doing something genuinely positive for individuals trapped in a situation likely far worse than your own. Secondly, it’s a fantastic way to experience the way of life in a foreign environment. If you’re hotel hopping in the major cities of a nation, you’re missing out on experiencing the way the majority of a population lives. Volunteering can offer that insight while being a rewarding experience in its own right. One that couldn’t be recommended highly enough.

Festivals/Events: Nothing says ‘culture’ like local festivals and displays of the local customs and traditions.

These can be religious, historical or simply localized rituals that truly capture the imagination. These usually allow artistic expression of the cultures presence in a society. Get involved and immerse yourself in the experience. You’ll connect with the local culture in a way you could never do through any other means.

Living/Accommodation: Couchsurfing has seen its popularity grow rapidly as travelers are catching on to the benefits of this amazing system.

It’s often viewed simply as a place to score free accommodation, though there’s so much more to the opportunity. When Couchsurfing, you’re likely to be staying with a local host. What better way to understand how local lives than to actually love with one? Most hosts are open to meeting and interaction with travelers; otherwise, they would never volunteer to host in the first place. You’ll get the opportunity to experience activities and places only a local would know about.

Drinking: What better way to rapidly befriend someone than by sharing a few brews?

Alcohol tends to get the conversation flowing freely and the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages is rather prevalent across the globe. Spend some time in spots that are popular with locals, whether that be local bars or other random watering holes. It’s a great way to shed the initial apprehension and conversational restraints that may inhibit other interactions. Just don’t go overboard!

 

Public Transport /Hitch-hiking: Rather than taking taxis or driving everywhere, try catching a local bus or train (stay in 3rd class rather than isolating yourself in 1st).

Another alternative is to hitch-hike. This can be a little risky and is not necessarily advised everywhere. Ensure you are reasonably comfortable in your surroundings and have some kind of safety measure in place if you choose the latter option.

Language Learning: It can be difficult to truly connect with a local culture if a language barrier exists.

One way to overcome this obstacle and gain a greater understanding is to take language lessons at a local school or with a local tutor. Not only will this improve your language skills, you’ll likely meet like-minded individuals to practice with and perhaps get involved in other activities. On the other side of the coin, perhaps teaching your native tongue abroad could provide similar opportunities.

Stay Put: Immerse yourself

Don’t continuously move around. It can be difficult to truly get a feel for the way of life in a different part of the world if you’re continually jumping around from town to town. Slow it down. You’ll get a greater appreciation and a deeper connection when staying in 1 spot.

Walk Around: You will learn more about a place in 2 hours of walking than you will in 2 days of driving or catching taxis.

Walking slows you down, forcing you to interact on at least the most basic of levels with your surroundings. You’re much more likely to strike up a conversation or stumble across something that catches your eye. It’s a great way to explore new territory and much better for your health!

Be Open to New Possibilities: You can put all the above advice to use, however, if you’re not open to new experiences, none of it will matter.

They say travel broadens the mind. Well, I’d suggest that is only the case for those who are willing to allow their minds to be shaped by their experiences. Embrace the unknown and your cultural experience will be so much the richer for it.

Cuisine: Love of food is a universal trait and a great way to get acquainted with the local culture.

Some travelers even rate culinary experiences as the key reason they travel! If you’re not eating the local produce, you’re simply missing out on a key part of the journey.

Not only do you gain an appreciation for the local way of life (how one eats says a lot about them), sharing food offers a great chance to bond with the locals. Stay away from the large restaurants and food chains. Instead, eat at local markets and hole-in-the-wall joints that offer authenticity and a genuine sampling of what the locals eat. If you stick to places that are busy, with a high turnover rate, you should avoid any food related illnesses that put many travelers off this activity.

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Reason To Visit China: Increased Environmental-Friendly Awareness Through Fashion

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Reason To Visit China: Increased Environmental-Friendly Awareness Through Fashion

Joan Suh Interview with Pawnstar

In China, reducing our carbon footprint through environmental initiatives are paramount.

As a center of production, businesses are pushing the envelope in terms of providing sustainably resourced goods and services. These are seen through the influx and recent interest in marketing up-cycled goods and green initiatives. According to the compilation of data from the projected trends for 2017 from The State of Fashion 2017,consumers are becoming more tech-savvy. Therefore, they are more aware of how their products are sourced. It is with the introduction of a shrewder customer clientele that an environmentally friendly take towards fashion becomes more accepted.

In the recent years, consignment shops have been gaining more popularity in China. To be able to reuse a previously owned garment not only extends its use, it creates less waste.

Pawnstar, proprietor of consigned goods is a premier example of progressive businesses providing Eco-friendly alternative without compromising quality or style.

As their brick-and-mortar headquarters is located in Shanghai, when they come for conventions in Beijing, it is a real treat. As they have their online store on Taobao and Wechat featuring men's, women's, and accessories (bags, jewelry, belts, etc.), they are experiencing much success in Beijing as well.

In this piece, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jane the owner/operator of the vintage paradise that is Pawnstar. 

What inspired you/shaped your initial decision to up-cycle /go into green initiatives? Was it difficult starting out?

 I've always been bothered by waste, whether it is of food, electricity, or clothing.  The proliferation of cheap products in people's homes and in their wardrobes from toys to fast fashion have concerned me for quite a while.

When living in a place as polluted and crowded as China, it is not difficult to make the connection between environmental degradation and unnecessary production and consumption.  I wanted to do something that would make a small contribution to solving some of these problems but that also could be a viable, portable, business.  

I think it's still quite challenging as any business tends to be at most points in its development.  Of course getting things started always does take a special kind of a drive but the difficulties of scaling up can be even greater

What goes through your mind when selecting your materials that you use to create your end product ( material sourcing/items that can be up-cycled)?

First of all, I'm not the designer but the business owner and operator.

Pawnstar works with a talented designer named Nisa who creates the up-cycled items that we sell. In general, I believe that she tries to find materials that are higher quality and that have an interesting style that can be incorporated into a larger whole.  At the same time, we don't want to take apart an item that can still be sold and worn so we also look for items that have some kind of flaw that makes it difficult to use in its existing form.

Where do you source your materials?

Before being an up-cycling business, we are a consignment shop.  We get all of the items that we sell directly from our users who bring their old items to us.

 Who are your target customers?

I would say that in the medium to long term, our customers are all fashion consumers (men and women) in China.  We carry a complete range of fashion items and believe that just about anyone can find styles that are to their taste at Pawnstar.  At present, most of our customers are mostly ladies in their 20s and 30s and 40s living in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities throughout China.

Obviously, they have to be open to shopping secondhand, which was not traditionally deemed acceptable by Chinese customers. But, I believe that our customers tend to have a comparatively evolved sense of style and taste than most people. 

This group of customers is ever expanding as more and more people travel and also start to experience the feeling of having way too much in their wardrobe.  Many people also do not want to repeat the same outfits and this leads them to consign their old items with us and buy new ones.

How does your business affect your customers? ( do you think they are now more aware of their carbon footprint and the effects of making healthy life choices?  Is it a long or slow process?

We try not to make reducing the carbon footprint or sustainability too big a part of our marketing. We believe that, in the end, most people respond best to feeling they got a good deal, finding styles they want to wear and having a good time shopping.  While we would like to build up more Eco-awareness, we believe that emphasizing that side of things does not necessarily work as a marketing strategy.  Of course, this might change over time, but we believe that people will shop because they want good value and to look good.

Has your work created any extra insights or changed your perspective at work?

I find new inspiration every day from the day from the work I do and my perspectives on managing people, marketing and developing a business are always evolving.  Among other things, I've learned the value of creating a vibrant and happy team in which everyone feels involved and positive.  

Does your choice to up-cycle/promote green initiatives stay as only a work mission or does it integrate into your everyday life? (Ex: social circles, places you go to in your free time, your lifestyle)

 On a day to day basis, I try to re-use packaging and use air conditioning and heating sparingly. Overall, I try to be an Eco-friendly as I possibly can without sacrificing too much comfort or efficiency. For example, I try to live in locations where it is possible to bike or walk on most days so I don't need to take taxis or own a car. I also don't travel by plane unless it really can't be avoided. I take the train if possible. As I'm sure you are aware, the carbon emissions from air travel are at times (depending on conditions) even worse than driving.

I believe we can get just as much inspiration from our daily lives, work and meeting new people as we can from traveling to far-off places so I travel often.

Is there anything that you would like to say?  Would you like to provide a statement?

I believe China is in a moment where there are countless opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to create something that has an Eco-dimension to it, and I hope more and more people, young and old, go in this direction rather than simply accepting the way things are being done and only seek profit or creation of new content simply for its own sake without it having social value.

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How to Cope with Culture Shock During Your First Visit to Chinas

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How to Cope with Culture Shock During Your First Visit to Chinas

Whether you are a visitor going to China, a recent grad pursuing an internship in China, or studying abroad in China, you will get a nice dose of culture shock as soon as you land.

Long viewed by the West as a vast land of mystery, with intriguing and unique customs, China still captures our imaginations. Beginning as one of the world’s earliest civilizations, China has become the most heavily populated nation on Earth and has rapidly ascended to its position as a modern economic powerhouse. As in its earlier history, the nation remains a popular destination for game travelers.

For those unacquainted with the traditions and lifestyle in the Far East, the initial visit can provide somewhat of a culture shock, particular if making the journey from a Western nation. We’ve put together a few relevant issues to consider in preparing yourself for the experience. Here are a few examples of what to expect during a visit to China

Food in China is a nice surprise. At first glance, questionable. The first bite, addicted. 

Those Chinese restaurants you frequent on a Friday night back at home? You won’t find those in China. The food in China is going to be different to what you’ll be used to in the West. Various spices, flavor combinations and even ingredients can be unique and perhaps a little daunting to the uninitiated. The best thing to do? Dive in and try everything!

People, People Everywhere

Think you know what a traffic jam is? You may be in for a wake-up call after a visit to China. I think we all know there are a few people in China; it is after all, the world’s most populous nation. Still, you may be in for a shock. Cars are EVERYWHERE and the roads can appear to be in a state of complete chaos. Despite first appearances, it is at least organized chaos and it's best to relax and go with the flow. The drivers know what they’re doing.

Be prepared for the fact that you will stand out and because of that, you’ll receive a lot of attention, wanted or not. It’s simple curiosity, not anything to be concerned about. Enjoy the momentary slice of fame!

Pollution

The problem with all that traffic is the havoc it plays on the air quality. The quality of the air around the major Chinese cities was brought to the world’s attention during the Beijing Olympics and the problem hasn’t gone away. The pollution problem is more prevalent in the winter as people still depend on burning coal for heat. Blue skies are endless in the summer! It may be advisable to travel with a face-mask around the major cities to avoid any respiratory problems the smog could create in the winter.

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Cultural Norms. What is really normal?

Personal space is an unknown concept within the borders of China. If you’re planning on taking public transport, be prepared to have people push, shove and jam you into the tiniest of spaces as they make room for themselves. If you may feel uncomfortable in such a situation, perhaps it’s wise to avoid traveling during rush hour.

Coughing up phlegm and then spitting it out in a rather noisy display can be a common occurrence among (predominantly) the older male crowd. While it may be a little disturbing at first, just ignore it as best you can and soon you won’t even notice (perhaps even taking up the habit yourself?)

Western toilets are out, squat toilets are in. No, you won’t likely be able to find a porcelain throne to sit on; you’ll have to do as the locals do and well…squat. Toilet paper may also be amiss in many places so if you find it a necessity, you may want to stock up and carry some around with you.

Communication- Adventures in Sign Language, giggles, with a sprinkle of confusion!

As you can imagine, English is not a language spoken worldwide. China is no exception. Although the levels of English spoken in the nation are on the rise, you may still encounter many individuals who speak solely in their native tongue. This is particularly relevant as you venture away from the main cities and tourist hubs. You may find yourself relying on a little sign language to get your point across! Fear not, non-verbal communication is still generally effective enough to ensure you are understood on at least the most basic of levels.

Note: Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese are ‘tonal’ languages, meaning the same word means a completely different thing based on the tone that is used. This can take some getting used to. The volume of communication can also typically be much louder than many Western Nations are used to. Don’t worry; they’re not angry, just communicating normally! 

Haven't been to Asia? Come to China to start building your cultural agility! Contact Miranda for more information at mm@mychinaopportunity.com

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8 Ways Travel Changes How You Think

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8 Ways Travel Changes How You Think

For many, home becomes comfortable. The same faces, places, and things to do. Leaving your childhood bubble for an overseas adventure can be a great way to break free!An opportunity to see new cultures, food, and entertainment that the world offers.

How can travel change the way you think?

I can tell you! I am an international student in the US studying finance that has left a tight knit community to travel abroad.

1. We now live in a global village:

Traveling teaches that cultures everywhere are beginning to get very intertwined. Not only is there a stroke of foreign influence in your hometown, but it is everywhere else that you may travel! You will hear music from your home country being mixed into music where you are traveling, food blended for local pallets that originated halfway across the world, and languages using colloquiums that you may have thought were your own. And with mom and dad only a free Skype call away, you won’t feel thousands of miles from home. The world is getting smaller, and traveling helps you to understand that.

 Travel or Intern in China to experience a fusion of culture

Travel or Intern in China to experience a fusion of culture

2. There is more to this extraordinary world than the bubble you grew up in:

As we can all agree, home is comfortable. We know everyone, our family is there, our high school crush is there, and we know exactly where to go for a late-night bite.  But staying in your bubble also severely limits your worldview and ideas for what is possible with your life and career.

Traveling abroad and seeing new cultures, the people, and the industry helps you to realize that there is a world of opportunity awaiting you. When you start to see some of the architectural, engineering, artistic and infrastructural wonders that the world has to offer, your mind can’t help but begin to dream of big things. Get out of your little bubble, unleash your mind and allow it to dream!

3. It is OK to try new things:

We will start slowly with this one, just try the food! In every traveling experience the food is usually the first and most obvious separator of cultures. Seeing the variety of spices, meats, vegetables, and fruits can be an awe-inspiring experience for some (let’s hear it for our fellow foodies!) and a nerve-racking challenge for others.

For those of us that prefer the tastes of home,  food can be a good first step into understanding the cultures that are available. You’re going to have to eat eventually on that trip, right? But don’t get trapped into buying the generic international fast food that is available at most places in this global village, try the local offerings, learn that other people have different cultures and tastes, and who knows? It may even make you an international friend or two!

 4. You can handle being independent!

Traveling while you’re a student allows you a special variety of independence. Your free to make your own dining decisions, explore wherever you want, and practically do anything your little heart desires. While traveling, you can blend into the local culture as much as you please, unencumbered by the societal norms of your hometown. You can mix and learn from new cultures and people that may not have been available before. You will quickly learn that for some, everyday life is drastically different than what you are used to. Celebrations are different, customs are different and even acceptable personal space is different! Learning to accept new cultures and norms grows your independence and personality. It helps you become confident in who you are separate from peer groups and family. Travel helps you be comfortable with you because you will see that everyone is different!

 5. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone can be freeing:

Only on international trips do you get to parade around the city in costume, run with the bulls, participate in a huge tomato fight, or dress up as a gorilla without worrying about what others think of you. Traveling allows you to act in ways you never thought normal. Without old friends and relatives around, you can test the limits of your comfort zone, learning that change is not as scary as people make it out to be! It may even inspire you to try that new class, sport, or partner for a date when you get back to school!

6. Travel teaches you to cope with stress:

Being away from your comfort zone, on your own in a foreign country can sometimes be extraordinarily stressful! Missing flights, loosing travel documents and language barriers can sometimes be huge stressors! Being able to handle these situations, and enjoy the new experiences at the same time teaches you how to cope with stress in everyday situations. Loosing that passport and having to spend a few extra days in a hostel may sound like a horror story, but if you can handle that you can certainly handle those exams. If you can enjoy your experiences abroad despite seemingly monumental challenges, getting through stressors at home will be far less of a challenge!

7. Traveling makes you more accepting:

Seeing different parts of the world, trying new foods, learning new cultures, and embracing differences in new countries teaches us that everyone is unique. It teaches to be accepting of those at home and school that we formally marginalized because of their differences. Often, travel puts us in positions where we are the minority in another country; linguistically, racially, and culturally. Learning to embrace our own differences while traveling makes accepting and welcoming different people far easier when we get back home.

8. Traveling makes you more interesting:

Traveling gives you new insights into the world around you, it gives you new things to talk about and new experiences to share. We all get tired of hearing the same old gossip from our school and hometown and traveling opens whole new conversations and opportunities for relationships when you return. Being able to relate to others who are from the country you have traveled to and being able to relate to those who have had similar experiences makes branching out to new social groups far easier. That cute guy or girl in your class may even be from the country that you just visited, and with your new experience, that ice breaker is going to be allot easier! 

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What Chinese visa do you need to intern?

 Chinese Visa- How to

Chinese Visa- How to

Visas are a tricky situation, especially since regulations change so quickly.

To legally work and receive a salary in China you need to be on a work visa (Z). To obtain a work visa is a long process and a host company issuing the visa has to have a certain amount of registered capital and they have a limitation on the quantity of Z visas they are able to issue. To be eligible for this visa:

- You must have 2 years of work experience after completing university

- Go through a criminal background check in your home country

- Pass a health exam

As the process is arduous, company's are not quick to issue unless they see the employee is going to be committed. China is doing an overhaul of their visa infrastructure, so hopefully the process will be smooth and swift in the coming years.

The main question is, if you are coming to China to intern, what are your options?

The best visas to be on is a M (business) or F visa (exchange). Being on a tourist visa or student visa (unless you have permission from your uni) is not ideal. Technically, as an intern your are learning but in a professional environment and not a salaried employee. Sometimes with bigger, multinational companies the PSB will do visa checks. If you are a foreigner on a tourist visa and in a office environment you have no reason to be there and will be quickly fined and possibly deported. With a F or M visa, there is the legitimacy of being in a professional environment.

To receive a M or F visa, you need sponsorship from a host company in China.

An invitation letter will be issued, which you will take to your local consultant along with your passport, visa application, and photo. Once you arrive in China, be sure to register a temporary residence permit with your local police station. Always keep this on you along with a photocopy of your passport and visa. Every once in awhile, they will ask foreigners in the subway or public areas to see their temporary residence permit. As long as you have it on you, you should receive no hassle. 

Need help planning your internship adventure in China? Apply here!

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8 Things I Have Learned About Living in China my First Month & Advice

 Intern in China to Adventure to new places 

Intern in China to Adventure to new places 

1. Most Useful Apps For Getting Around- We found that the most useful Apps to have are Wechat (Weixin), Pleco,and Youdao on your smartphone.

Wechat - Is useful because everyone in Beijing has one, and will add you on there as a contact instead of giving a phone number. It acts as a platform for free calling, text, and video-calling internationally. You can also send someone your location with the app which is helpful since google maps does not work here without VPN(without a VPN, you cannot access many sites blocked in China like Google, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and some other sites, mainly social media platforms are blocked).   

Pleco- is an app that is the best Chinese to English dictionary I have used. For $10 US, you can upgrade (which is very extremely helpful) to get the camera option and translate right at that moment.  

Youdao- Is great if you have long paragraphs of text to translate. (Also alongside this, the way that my roommate and I get around, is that we carry notebooks in our bags with some key terms and phrases we have collected over time. While we have memorized most of these phrases and know what to say for some situations, it is nice to have something to reference.)

2. The Bathroom Situation- In China and in many other countries in Asia, the toilets are squatting toilets.

This means that instead of a toilet to sit on, there is (for lack of better descriptions), a stall with a hole that you squat over. While many of the newer buildings do have western style toilets, the less modern ones have these available. Also public bathrooms in the hutongs (the small streets/ alleys in china) will have these squatting toilets.

Also sometimes there is not any toilet paper in the bathroom at all and you are expected to bring your own personal pack of disposable tissues/ toilet paper (which most people do, so it is very important to have on hand in case) to these stalls. Sometimes there is soap but, it is highly recommended that you pack your own hand sanitizer bottle and/ or hand wipes for public restrooms. 

 Parkview Green

Parkview Green

3. Language-  While I was told that I could take weekly language lessons during my co-op it is important that before you come you develop a basic understanding of Mandarin.

Not many people in Beijing speak English ( some young people can speak English, not so much the older generation). I have become comfortable with some basic questions and how to get around within a month with pinyin.

4. The People are Amazing- Within my short time here, I really have come to appreciate how kind, hardworking, and good-hearted everyone is here.

It is difficult when you first start out, without being able to express yourself to others because of the language barrier. It is sometimes a challenge to express your basic needs and wants at times, but most people in Beijing are very relaxed. They will work with you and listen when you ask for directions or have questions.

It is important stay calm when you get stuck, and if you make a mistake to take it easy on one’s self. Remain positive and take each experience as a learning experience, remember to smile and try to break down want to know in simpler terms in Mandarin. If you are corrected, simply take note of what vocabulary worked, and what didn’t prevent it from happening again.

5. Safety - If traveling through Beijing from 8am - 12pm you will be perfectly fine, it really depends where you are traveling( in my opinion).

It is fairly peaceful and not many pickpockets (especially compared to European countries I have visited). Just mind your belongings and don’t leave anything loose.

6. Cabs- Avoid black cabs (My coordinator warned me of this during orientation) because they might try to raise the price after you arrive at your destination. 

Personal Experience- About 2 weeks ago I encountered a black cab when I was trying to call a cab, the driver tried calling me over. He then show me a subway receipt in English, (he pointed to the word Taxation) and claimed it was his cab license..

 Beijing Sight Seeing During your Internship 

Beijing Sight Seeing During your Internship 

7. Shopping- Large malls are usually for luxury items and have foreign imports.

Besides supermarkets or these malls it is fine to bargain if the store is outside or if you are in a touristy area. The prices are usually inflated. The only time people try to take your money (most people will not try to steal from you)is usually through inflating the price. There are many lovely streets and fun finds in China, you can find some really great finds. My favorite place so far is Qianmen.

8. Air Quality - I already knew about this one, but it is a good one to know.

 Living in the same city you become aware of the effect of air pollution and the source of the pollution becomes more noticeable.

Main reasons for pollution:

-It is densely populated.   

-The surrounding provinces manufacture and the wind brings the pollution. A lot of heavy manufacturing has been pushed out of Beijing in recent years.

-Many places use charcoal and burn firewood as both a source of warmth and to cook (the air quality drops significantly in the summer time because of this).

However, the people in Beijing are taking progressive measures to increase both awareness and improve the health of their environment through initiatives, and events found throughout the city. If you are interested in coming Beijing, bring breathing masks(I recommend 3M brand) to combat the pollution, and since the air is very dry, to bring pack or purchase (when you arrive ) lots of moisturizers (ex: lip balm, body lotion, face lotion).

Blog Post by Joan Suh- Fashion Intern from Drexel University 

 

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Dragon Boat Festival… without the Dragon Boats

As much as I love my new internship, I always look forward to the weekend, and especially this weekend because it’s the Dragon Festival. I remember that back in Philadelphia, different cultural organizations would gather together at the Delaware River and race their boats as onlookers sipped coconut juices and ate all sorts of Asian snacks on the grass. The festival here, apparently, is no trivial matter. Special foods are made, boats are raced, and everyone takes off from work to join the festivities. While we didn’t catch any races or partake in the Color Run that was also this weekend, my friends and I decided to have a jam-packed day of obstacle courses, dinosaurs, and burritos.

I had been to Chaoyang Park a few times before, but this time was by far the most exhausting visit. I ziplined across the lake, teetered on suspended logs, and hoisted myself onto rope ladders. It took us two hours to finish the course and by the time we were done our hands were raw, our quads were sore, and we were in dire need of ice cream. After a quick stop at McDonalds, we made our way over to see the new Jurassic World movie (which I might add is worth the hype). And after a long walk, we finally made our way to a Tex-Mex restaurant I spied a week ago on my commute to work. What are the odds! A Tex-Mex restaurant in Beijing. Everything was pretty authentic too, from the beans and cheese to the tacky interior decoration.

While I didn’t spend the first day of the festival in the traditional sense, I still have two more days to go! Perhaps I’ll partake in those glutinous rice cake desserts I keep seeing on the street…  

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Halfway Point

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through my time here in Beijing. I feel like it was just last week that I landed here jetlagged and exhausted from my flight. I’ve definitely adjusted to the style of living here, and I feel like I’ve become somewhat hardened to things that would normally catch most Americans off guard, like spitting in the street, the squatting toilets, and the ridiculous crowds in the subways. I’ve come to accept it as the way things are, and it feels almost natural to me.

My life, I feel, is put on a sort of hiatus; I’m still working every day but I’m taking a breaking from my otherwise normal, American college student life: sewing clothes, biking to work, and enjoying a parmesan chicken every now and then. I’m in a city where I know no one and I’m surrounded by so much culture and diversity, and it feels like I left even planet Earth for a short time.

As a turn a new leaf in my internship and turn 22 this week, the fact that I will be leaving in three months has started to sink in. I will have to start shopping for the last souvenirs, visit all the tourist destinations, and say my goodbyes. Before I know it, I will be on a flight to San Francisco and then to Philly to finish school. But for now, I want to enjoy the rest of my time here to the fullest extent. There’s still so much to see and do…and I still have yet to have a legitimate conversation with the “white rice” guy. 

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Hong Kong Part 2

After an eventful (and exhausting) night of celebrating my roommate’s birthday in Lan Kwai Fong, we all spent a day recuperating at Repulse Bay and partaking in authentic Cantonese seafood cuisine. We would all need the rest because the next day we all took a cable car trip to Lantau Island to see the giant Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery.

While the day wasn’t the most ideal for crystal clear, sunny pictures, the fog and mist obscuring the tops of the trees and mountain peaks made the remote location seem eerie and almost mysterious. Ascending the stairs to see the Buddha was exhausting, but my rationale is that the journey to spiritual peace is not an easy one. After a few attempts at clear pictures, we descended the stairs, only to find the fog dissipate as soon as we were at the bottom. We then meandered through the monastery and hopped on a bus to the Tai O fishing village, where we ate more seafood and finally got to try authentic Hong Kong milk bubble tea. In the states, the bubble tea shops in Chinatown were favorite haunts of my friends and me, so drinking the bubble tea in Hong Kong made me feel somewhat at home.

We then took the subway to Mong Kok, where we perused the Ladies’ Market and scored some awesome bargains. We ended our trip at Tim Ho Wan dim sum restaurant, where the legendary barbecue pork buns proved more than worthy of the 30 minute walk to get there. The next morning, my roommates and I went to Tsui Wah, a popular Cantonese breakfast joint. I love Cantonese breakfasts. I had macaroni noodle soup with sliced Spam, fried eggs, a buttered roll, a pineapple bun, and Hong Kong milk tea. This beats the socks off brown sugar Quaker Oats any day.

Overall, my trip to Hong Kong was a very fulfilling one. I went to every place I wanted to go to. The food never disappointed, and everyone was friendly and willing to show you around. I could definitely see myself living here, or at least visiting again. However, I’m glad to be leaving on a good note. I don’t want to get tired of this island, and after all, I do have an internship to complete. See you later, Hong Kong, we’ll meet again. 

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