After almost three months in Xiamen, my fellow Dutch students and me are halfway our internship in faraway China. What a great experience it has been so far! I learned a lot and made many fine memories and friends. I want to devote this blog to tell you, perhaps a future CHECK-IT student, some useful information before you start your internship in China. Hopefully this helps you to prepare for a long and amazing trip far from home.
The first thing I want to inform you about is that most Chinese people, especially the older Chinese, don’t speak any English. So if you find importance in communicating with locals, you should learn some basic Chinese. There are plenty of tutorials online. At the bottom of this blog you can find a couple of links to get started.
Secondly I would like to point out Chinese food. Believe me, it’s really tasty, but it will take some time to get used to and to find nice places to eat. Funnily enough, in china the worst looking places, often serve the best and tasteful food. Don’t hesitate to give them a try.
Some people get sick due the food. Unfortunately so did I. The best advice is to bring some medicines, especially for stomachache and diarrhea. But don’t worry, after a while your body will have adapted to the Chinese cuisine.
Xiamen has a subtropical climate – most of the time it is warm and somewhat humid. This climate comes with rain seasons; during such a season, make sure to carry an umbrella. From January to March you might even want to wear a coat. During these months, the temperate drops considerably.
Note that not all websites are accessible within China. Sites like Facebook, Google and YouTube, for example, are blocked. I recommend you to install a VPN before you go.
You will meet a lot of people with other cultural backgrounds, people from all over the world come to Xiamen to study or make a living. I learned a lot about other cultures and habits and in the process improved my English. Meeting these people has broadened my horizon, and I can strongly recommend you to be open to the people around you. It will add to the quality of your stay.
While collaborating with Chinese students you will experience they are not as straight-forward as Dutch people tend to be. It is by all means a very enriching full-on cultural confrontation. Chinese students may have a different perception about tasks that are clear and logical to us Dutch students. Therefore, I would advice you to be patient and flexible. Try to understand the differences in communication and culture.
Like the great Bruce Lee once spoke: “Be water my friend”.
With that said, my main tip for you is: “Be open and flexible”. You will do fine as long you maintain an open attitude.
Jeroen Schuiling – CHECK-IT 14