Interested in doing an international internship, but also worried about living abroad?
This October special blog will tackle common fears people have about doing an internship abroad in China.
A country like China can be intimidating even for seasoned travelers!
On Quora, you can see a myriad of questions regarding China.
As world's most populous country and one of the largest countries by land mass, China has a lot to offer for prospective visitors.
You can all enjoy your visit to this amazing country with a little help, whether you are there for travel, education, business or internship.
Here are some common fears about China explained or debunked:
Water and Food Safety in China
Naturally, food and water safety is a valid concern to have when traveling.
These spawn questions online like: Is Chinese tap water safe to drink? Can I eat the street food?
Thankfully, issues that you see in the media are a far and few in-between.
However, as long as you are cautious, you will find that the culinary experience you can have in China is amazing and enjoyable.
You absolutely can eat street food in China if you want to! Find the best eats by observing where the locals go and which stall is the most popular.
You can see if your food is freshly prepared in front of you as well.
As for water, drinking tap water in China is not advised, especially when bottled drinking water is easily available.
It is safe to drink the bottled water (no need for imported brands) and there are convenience stores located everywhere in the cities.
The Chinese government is also increasing food safety regulations, with changes slowly but surely happening across the country. Until then, play it safe with food and drink for the best experience.
So is it safe to eat Chinese food? Yes, the food is safe, especially if it's well cooked and freshly made. PS: drink bottled water.
Cleanliness in China
From the air quality to the public bathrooms, the cleanliness of the environment has an impact on our daily lives.
China is known for its poor air quality however, the government is quickly making strides to improve.
Currently, the air quality depends a lot on the weather and level of congestion, so it can vary depending on the day.
It is prudent to own a mask when in China, just in case you need one.
A reusable mask with a filter is the best and most cost-effective option for those who are planning to stay for longer periods of time. They can also be quite fashionable!
The progress and policies implemented so far are slowly improving air quality, so hopefully, masks will be the thing of the past.
Aside from the air, many people are also concerned with public restrooms.
Issues many people have with the toilets are cultural and not related to cleanliness. Many toilets in China, especially in rural areas, are squat toilets.
Men have it slightly easier, as urinals are consistently similar worldwide.
Squat toilets may seem weird, but it's actually a more natural way for humans to relieve themselves compared to sitting Western ones.
China has some Western toilets in major cities and hotels, and you can request accommodations with Western toilets.
Always carry your own sanitizing wipes and tissues if you are worried about toilet cleanliness (and remember to dispose of them responsibly, i.e. don’t flush them).
For the best experience, figure out where the best restrooms are in an area to avoid discomfort.
Language Barrier in China
For some people, the scariest thing about a foreign country is not being able to understand the local language, which in China is Mandarin.
Paula DiPerna describes her experience doing business in China as an English-speaker in a Forbes article:
In the U.S., we tend to over-communicate and have become addicted to what I call “process chat.” But in China, without speaking or understanding local speakers, one can leave all that behind. Not that there isn’t a time and place for chit-chat but it's best not to be obsessive about every word that’s said.
A foreign environment will give you challenges and experiences you can't find elsewhere.
Communication skills are important in the workplace, and this unique experience makes you stand out.
That said, you will definitely have people you can speak English with.
China is becoming increasingly globalized and there are plenty of expats who live in major cities.
There is also a new generation of Chinese who are learning English to become competitive in a rapidly shrinking world.
You can also embrace the local language, and pick up some new words!
With over 1 billion Chinese people in the world, conversational Chinese is an amazing skill to pick up in many industries.
As a plus, language classes are not only a great place to make friends, but you can directly apply what you've learned in the real world.
Let's not forget that thanks to technology, we also always have Google Translate at our disposal.
Shopping in China
You commonly see the "Made in China" label all around the world, demonstrating the global scale on which Chinese products are distributed.
So naturally shopping in China should be easy, right?
Between the language barrier and different culture, it may not be easy, but not necessarily too difficult either.
Bargaining is a big part of shopping in China, especially from vendors in the markets.
When a vendor offers a high price, they do it with the expectation that there is negotiation regarding the price.
Master the art of haggling, and you will find shopping much more enjoyable and affordable.
If you are new to bargaining, check out these 8 rules to help you bargain better in China!
Knock-offs and poor quality products are also prevalent in China.
For the most part, they are obvious and most people purchase them with the intent of buying a counterfeit item. Counterfeit items come with many risks, so it's best to avoid them if you can.
Purchase your Chanel and Cartier elsewhere, as designer goods are often more expensive in China.
If deals for a brand name item is too good to be true, there is probably a catch.
Original Chinese brands are also on the rise.
Technology and phone companies like Huawei and Xiaomi are beginning to provide competition for even the likes of Apple and Samsung.
More detailed information about shopping in China is available here.
Take a Leap and Try Out an Internship Abroad!
There will definitely many things different about China from your country of origin or study.
These differences definitely seem scary, but if you face your fears you will find there is also much to love!
In fact, showing your adaptability and ability to challenge yourself with an international internship is a quality that employers love.
Our internship applications are open all-year round, so apply now!
Got any other concerns about living abroad? We'd love to hear your thoughts, comment below!