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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 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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Wangfujing Snack Street

It’s been about a month since I’ve been in China and I can confidently say that China has one of the most diverse food landscapes in the world.

From spicy Sichuan street food to extravagant Beijing duck, the phrase “Chinese food’ doesn’t even begin to cover the vastness of what you can find here. 

Backtrack to three weeks ago, when my roommates and I decided to embrace our inner tourists and go to Wangfujing. I remember once watching Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods on the Travel Chanel and watching him eat Thousand Year Old Eggs, stinky tofu, and scorpions on a stick. “What an incredibly brave man. I’ll probably never do that in my life!” Little did I know that I would one day find myself in Beijing doing just that. 

Of course, the first thing we see when we enter the incredibly narrow and aromatic snack street was squirming scorpions on a stick, right next to the starfish, silk worms, and deep fried lizards. The scorpions were literally squirming to show how fresh they were. “NO WAY. I’M NOT ANDREW ZIMMERN.” I thought. However, one stick had three scorpions and my two roommates had already taken a scorpion for themselves, leaving the last one for me. After seeing their somehow complacent faces upon finishing their grub, I gave in. “What the heck.” I thought. “I’m in Beijing and it’s now or never.” To my relief, the scorpion tasted like very salty potato chips. I had to close my eyes, though. Would I eat it again?  Probably. Would I willingly order it? Probably not. But at least I have a cool story to tell. 

Although I forgot to take a picture that monumental moment of culinary exploration, I did manage to take a picture of myself happily scarfing down some stinky tofu. Stinky tofu was another must-try food Andrew Zimmern had the pleasure of tasting. Like durian fruit (which is one of very few foods I detest), it smelled of death and old feet but instead tasted quite savory and enjoyable. Topped with cilantro, peppers, and peanuts, the tofu was rather tasty. Immediately afterwards I downed two water bottles and five breath mints. The “stinky” part of stinky tofu is no joke. 

It seems that you can never go hungry here. There is food EVERYWHERE. If you’re hungry, the nearest restaurant is probably less than half a block away.

If you’re not in the mood for a sit-down meal, there are always smaller restaurants peddling their snack-sized wraps and kabobs. And for the truly adventurous you can try out the street food.

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Exploration and pushing your limits

Although our days are filled with work and learning new skills that we may apply to our careers or future businesses, the learning does not only take place at work. What I enjoy most about my internship abroad is the fact that every day and everything we do is a new learning experience.

This weekend, John, Ann, and I went to explore one of the markets called Wanfujing. Our mission was to eat scorpions and whatever else we could get our hands on! Walking up through a more modern style outdoor mall and eating area, we turn the corner and its like time traveling. I really enjoy the sensory experiences of traveling because it most definitely opens up your mind by forcing the brain into uncomfortable and unfamiliar experiences: sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. When we arrived at the market we began a feeding frenzy! I purposely didn't eat lunch so that I could make the most of the experience.

First thing I found was the Chinese version of a burrito! Definitely not the same but it made me feel good haha. Man I miss burritos! Next we found an egg French fry masterpiece that I really can't describe but I can tell you that you could make a small fortune in America selling them. Finally we found the scorpions, but for some reason what caught my eye was the tarantula's. After a battle for the price, 80 Kuai, which is way too much for any food I simply walked away after giving him 60. It's quite funny how as westerners we all gather around to watch someone eat a food but of course everyone was taking video of me eating it. Even a couple random guys from the Middle East had to join in the fun haha. Before anyone saw I was already nibbling on the crispy legs and then when they were ready I bit in. To be honest, it was not bad, I was quite disappointed though because it was deep-fried I don't feel like I got much nutrition from it. I finished my crispy critter and moved on to some other dishes. Ann and John ate scorpion and then we called it a night.

Remember, pushing your limits mentally and physically is the only way to grow.  I know you can learn a tremendous amount at any internship but going abroad provides a constant learning environment. Push it to the limit! And then break the limit!

By Justin Ancheta

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Zoo Market for Shopping

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Zoo Market for Shopping

Jonathan's Favorite Stickers  

Jonathan's Favorite Stickers  

One of the Busy Aisles

One of the Busy Aisles

If Gucci, Chanel, LV is beyond your reach; Zara, H&M, Mango has bored you out, where else can you go if you wanna do some shopping and have some fun on the weekend? Wholesale market! There are many wholesale markets in Beijing featuring costumes and shoes, commodities, or electronic & digital products. Wholesale market is one of the most popular shopping places in Beijing among locals. The market is huge in size and it offers you commodities with decent quality and very cheap price. 

Store of Belts

Store of Belts

  If you ask me what is the most popular wholesale market for costumes and shoes, I will tell you for sure that it's the Zoo Market. To be honest, I had never been to the Zoo Market until this past weekend! I was always freaked out by the idea or the misunderstanding of shopping in wholesale market. I used to think shopping there is just like fighting the store owners over a few bucks and getting yelled at if you bargain too much, but not anymore.

 

Cute Contact Lenses Cases

Cute Contact Lenses Cases

It's called Zoo Market because the market is near the Beijing Zoo. The market is massive with many tall buildings lined up on streets and underground stores for you to explore. We went to the underground market where there are clothes with better qualities and more reasonable prices.

Shoes Shoes Shoes

Shoes Shoes Shoes

Jonathan, the only boy in the group, was definitely the biggest winner of the day! Although there are way more girlie stuff than things for guys he still picked a good number of items from his favorite brand Supreme such as stickers, Iphone case, and some baseball cups.

It was a bummer that we got there when they were almost closing so we didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted. But since now I know shopping there is far from bargaining on top of my voice and getting yelled at by greedy store owners I will definitely go back again.

 

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Back to Basix: Healthy Lifestyle in Your Backyard

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It’s always been a dream of mine to own a little garden and eat only what I grow myself. Yesterday I met with many likeminded people, and learned that it’s actually quite possible to take care of my own food.

On Sunday we had Back to Basix’s first class, in which we talked about six plants that are commonly used in everyday life: Basil, Garlic, Ginger, Green Onions, Mint, and Rosemary. We explored their health effects of these herbs, and introduced a simple recipe for each plant.

The eager home gardeners wanted to know all the details about planting their favorite herbs. We discussed proper planting procedures for each herb, as well as little things one needs to pay attention during the process. 

We made mint lemonade and vegetables dipped in pesto for the event. Yummy! They are easy to make, and good for your health too.

 

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Back to Rain

Well, while my good friends here at MCO went on their little camping trip, I stayed in dear old Beijing and boiled under the sun. That is, until Monday, when ominous clouds and gray skies rolled in, foretelling the downpour that continued for two days straight.  

On Tuesday, when the rains first set in, I, like thousands of other like-minded tourists, headed to the National Museum of China. 

Thankfully, the queue moved quickly due to the fact that there admission fee came out to a total of zero RMB. All one needed was their passport or Chinese ID to enter into the gargantuan building. 

Tourists resting on the steps after exploring the museum.

The bottom floor was a journey through ancient Chinese artifacts, ending with a life-sized model of Chinese cavemen. The upper floors had jade, money, and buddha collections, as well as a two large rooms filled with African masks and statues. Unfortunately the Africa-centric rooms only had descriptions in Chinese, so I am still unsure of how or why The National Museum had acquired such items.

I finished off my tourism with a trip to Wangfujing Snack Street, which was busy even when puddles lined the alleyway. I ate some Baozi's and grilled corn on the cob, avoiding the scorpions and slimy sea creatures on a stick only so I could perhaps share that experience with a friend. 

 - Percia Verlin

Rainy snack street go-ers.

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Summer Palace & A new website

I was going to make a really cool Summer Palace blog post but one of my lovely cohorts beat me to it. So I’ll just give my 5 cents.

It’s not really much of a palace, more of a large hill and a big lake.

The best part was the group trying to get a boat with a motor and a boat where you bike to go the same way at the same speed. We mostly just gave up and had a picnic in the middle of the lake consisting of bread, Nutella, peanut butter, and jelly.

Boats on the Summer Palace Lake

Boats on the Summer Palace Lake

Blond people actually do get asked for pictures apparently.

Heidi Klum is getting a little sick of the paparazzi

Heidi Klum is getting a little sick of the paparazzi

Religious studies can actually be useful in real life.

 

Justin showing us the correct way to meditate

Justin showing us the correct way to meditate

So this week @ WUHAO I’m helping the big boss finally create an actual website where things can be bought and products explored and all that good stuff that we take for granted in this age of technology.

Just because we work in a 16th century Chinese garden doesn’t mean we should adhere to 16th century Chinese practices. Anyway, building a fancy website takes fancy technology and a whole lot of pictures and information to put together, so I’m gonna go get started.

Here is a picture of the cats that live at WUHAO.

 

Only WUHAO cats take naps on Innovo chairs

Only WUHAO cats take naps on Innovo chairs

- Percia Verlin

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A Warm Welcome…Or a Hot One, Really

So the urban legend goes like this: if your Chinese friends have hot pot gatherings without you, you probably need to reconsider your friendship…

Okay, I may have exaggerated a bit. But what’s a better way to welcome MCO’s new summer interns to China than a cozy night with hot pot?

This past Saturday we had a welcome dinner for the new interns at Hai Di Lao, a wildly popular hot pot chain famous for its five star service, unlimited free snacks, and Kung-Fu-style “noodle dance”.

Chris asked a waitress to show us around the kitchen. Apparently this was something you could just ask for here at Hai Di Lao.

Isn’t it reassuring to know what your dishes look like when you are ordering?

Isn’t it reassuring to know what your dishes look like when you are ordering?

It was a great challenge for the new arrivals to put meat and vegetables that they couldn’t even name into their bowls; luckily, our interns are an adventurous group.

Everyone is excited to cook for themselves…except for Percia who’s probably wondering what kind of food she’s been tricked into eating

Everyone is excited to cook for themselves…except for Percia who’s probably wondering what kind of food she’s been tricked into eating

Meatballs and mushrooms in tomato soup

Meatballs and mushrooms in tomato soup

Happy faces!

Happy faces!

- Kaixin Bao

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Day Trip to the Summer Palace with MCO

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Day Trip to the Summer Palace with MCO

If you ask me what excites me more than fancy parties and shopping for new shoes, the answer is—day trip with besties! This past Sunday My China Opportunity took our interns and their friends out on a day trip to the Summer Palace.

Jonathan (left) and Justin (right) outside the gate at the Summer Palace

Jonathan (left) and Justin (right) outside the gate at the Summer Palace

Finally got into the park. Journey starts here!

Finally got into the park. Journey starts here!

To three of our interns, Justin, Jonathan, and Ann, this is their very first outing in China since they just arrived last Friday. Immersing themselves in Chinese culture and experiencing as much as they can is the purpose of this trip.

Houses from the old days

Houses from the old days

First group photo. Everyone is happy and pumped

First group photo. Everyone is happy and pumped

Long before the trip started Jonathan and Ann got themselves “in trouble.” As two newbies in town, not knowing much about the city, Jonathan and Ann hopped on the wrong train coming from their place to the park! Instead of taking the short path on the subway line, which is a circle, they went all the way to the other direction and stayed on the train for almost 30 stops. Hands up if you need to learn Chinese, Jonathan & Ann!

Beautiful scene at the park

Beautiful scene at the park

Interns hiking in the park   

Interns hiking in the park

 

The Summer Palace is always packed, especially Sundays; even the ticket box was surrounded by hundreds of people trying to get the tickets! However, Chris, our group leader who has been living in Beijing for almost four years, “strategically“ got the tickets for all of us with no waiting in lin. How so? He cut the line, just like any other tourist there, of course.

 

Greens that you don’t see in the city

Greens that you don’t see in the city

A cute corner we found in the park

A cute corner we found in the park

Even as a so-called Beijinger my memory about the Summer Palace is so vague and blurry. I’m so glad that after so many years away from home I got a chance to revisit this beautiful park once again.

Fun group photo along the bridge

Fun group photo along the bridge

Waiting to get on the boat!

Waiting to get on the boat!

Everything is fun when you do it with the right people. Our lovely interns made the hiking in the park a fun thing to do although the sun was not so friendly to us. It was interesting to see how our interns were amazed by little things happened around them. 90-year-old man training Kongfu in the park, the Buddha in the temple, trying the Chinese corn dog, “kidnaped “by Chinese tourists to take pictures with them, all of these things made the trip a memorable one to all of us, but the best part of the day has not come yet.

Interns on the boat

Interns on the boat

Good view of the park from the center of the lake

Good view of the park from the center of the lake

I bet you will never guess out the answer that where we spent the last hour in the park—on the boat! Yes, we rented two boats and got everyone on board to have a unique experience on one of the most famous lakes in China. As the captain of my boat, yea I was the driver of a boat though I don’t even hold a driver’s license, I was having lots of fun navigating with my “crew.”

 

Nora the Captain

Nora the Captain

Feet in the water

Feet in the water

The sun was still high when we left the park. Besides all the excitements and laughter we had on this trip everybody got a nice tan that was from the beautiful summer sunshine.

- Nora Zhou

The bridge

The bridge

Buddha

Buddha

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Internship Beijing Style

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I haven’t quite stopped waking up at 6 every morning. Whether from lingering jetlag or the light from my window, I’m usually up in time to talk to some friends before they eat dinner or go to bed. My small shared apartment has a kitchen so I make myself breakfast with food bought from any of the surrounding food markets and stands. I’m trying to hold off from succumbing to the foreigner supermarkets that carry things like cereal and cheese and instead eat eggs, vegetable and fruit.

My internship starts at 10 or 11 in the morning. Today will be my third day there. My internship is at a company called Wuhao. The idea is a bit hard to explain but they call themselves a curated shop or concept store. They work with designers of clothing and various home items and accessories to create events and shows and also have general displays. It’s all very artsy, and though I’m not sure I could be part of the creative process, the fact that their clientele is almost entirely international is central to my interest.

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I’ve been navigating the great city of Beijing via bicycle, a mode of transport which is not for the inexperienced. I actually enjoy the lawlessness (which really isn’t that bad, you just have to realize the cars who are turning don’t yield for pedestrians crossing the street). The area that I am living in is already one of my favorites. It has lots of restaurants and little shops as well as some really popular Hutongs (smaller streets or alleyways). I haven’t really noticed Beijings famous pollution but the dust and free-floating pollen wisps are irritating. Luckily the weather has yet to become unbearably hot.

- Percia Verlin

 

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Forbidden City

- Caitlin Davis

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Big Black Scorpion

Last week, I was dared by some of my fellow co-workers into eating a scorpion. Only did I not know, it was going to be the size of my palm, and there were three of them. We made our way from Dongzhimen on scooters to the busy street of Wangfujing where you can eat all kinds of crazy Chinese delicacies, including varying insects, organs, and stuff we do not want to know what it was. It was probably one of the most interesting food culture experiences I’ve ever encountered. Don’t try this at home. Literally, after eating two, I felt like I was going to spew. No one wanted the last scorpion and the poor thing had to go in the trash. However, the other decent looking food was cheap and sweet. The street also sold many Chinese souvenirs, a perfect place to go if you’re just touring Beijing.

 - Ryan Huerter

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Taking the Subway to Work!

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Taking the Subway to Work!

Being from the states it is not very common for people to say that they regularly ride the subway to work; with the exception of people in New York City. However in Beijing it is seen as one of the most popular and effective way to get around. In this blog post I will give some basic instructions on how to ride the subway:

1) Go to window booth located in the entrance of the subway station. This is where you can purchase a rechargeable subway card for 20 RMB (which you will then have to load money on to) or a one time non-rechargeable card for 2 RMB;  this 2 RMB is the price for 1 trip.

2) Once you have successfully acquired your subway card it is time to go through the entrance gates. Simply scan your card and the gates will open automatically.

3) Next look at a map to make sure you are on the correct side of the platform. (this is very important you don’t want to spend your whole day going the wrong direction!)

4) When you get off the subway you will noticed that you must scan your card again in order to exit the station.

side note: The subway is very crowded during the AM rush hour as well as the PM

- Christopher Cheung

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How to Bargain in China?

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How to Bargain in China?

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Bargaining is super important for anyone who is foreign to Chinese culture. Deciding not to bargain with the locals can really put a dent in your wallet if you’re not careful. Hopefully, by following the bargaining tips below you will be able to walk into a shop and strike an awesome deal. Just remember that bargaining in China is an art. Practice makes perfect!

Bargaining in China Tip#1:

When trying to bargain with Chinese people make sure you stay calm and not look to excited about the item that you wish to buy. Although you might be super stoked about the item your about to buy, don’t show it to the seller. By showing that you’re excited about a particular item will entice the seller not to give you any discount. By acting cool and showing that you’re not too thrilled about the item makes the seller want to lower the price. The seller will continue to lower the price until its not worth selling it anymore. Many items that I’ve purchased in China received discounts of about  50-85%.

Bargaining in China Tip#2:

When trying to strike a deal with a Chinese person always start bargaining at a super low price and then work your way up. For example, a pair of shorts may initially cost around 300 yuan. Offer the seller 30 yuan. If he doesn’t agree start working your way up, but slowly. Look at the material for a while, inspect the stitching, look for any flaws, etc. After you start investing time into an item, start offering a little bit more each time the seller & you go back in forth in terms of the price. Bargaining takes patience! If you’re not patient, learn to be.

Bargaining in China Tip#3:

When bargaining with the seller you need to justify why you won’t/can’t pay a high price for whatever you’re buying. Tell them that you’re a student and don’t have a job. Tell them that the item is cheaper at another store. Basically, tell them whatever you think is a good justification for lowering the price.

Bargaining in China Tip#4:

Don’t take things too personal. Always smile and have direct eye contact. Remember that bargaining is just a game.

Bargaining in China Tip#5:

Build relationships with particular sellers that you’ve purchased stuff from before. This will show the seller that you like him/her. By building a strong relationship with a seller, you usually receive the best prices without having to bargain too much. I usually have a particular shop that I go to buy suits, home furnishings, fruit/veggies, etc. Learning the art of Guanxi is super important if you want to save money in China.

- Christopher Cheung

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