Chinese Superstitions

It’s time to throw out your lucky rabbit’s foot. Now that you’ve crossed into the East the polarities of fortune have changed and the normal good luck charms many longer be so charming but don’t worry, here is a list of the top 5 Chinese superstitions to keep you abreast of the whims of chance.

1. 4 is bad! 8 is good!

Lucky numbers seem to be everywhere but what drives me crazy is that they’re constantly changing. According to my last fortune cookie (which is almost non-existent in China) the numbers 4, 8, 13 and 24 were lucky which was a dead giveaway that fortune cookies aren’t Chinese! The number 4 in China is bad luck (I mean really bad, like black cat under a ladder made of broken mirrors bad). It is a homonym for the word ‘death’ and people actually pay extra money to have it removed from their phone numbers and license plates. Fortunately the number 8 is good luck. It is a homonym for the word ‘prosperity’ and people pay extra money to have it added to their phone numbers, license plates and even pay extra to live on the 8th floor.

2. Noodles should be eaten whole!

A lot of foreigners wonder why eating a bowl of noodles has to be such a noisy, slurpy business in China. What we don’t realize is the disastrous consequences of cutting a noodle in half. Imagine this; a noodle represents your life. Every inch is ten years. If we cut that line we are segmenting our lives and figuratively shortening them! Noodles must be eaten whole! I learned this lesson thanks to the good graces of a patron at my local noodlery. I had brought a plastic knife and fork with me (yeah, I was that guy) and was about to cut up my noodles into manageable pieces when a good Samaritan leaped over a table, bulldozed through some chairs and shoulder checked the cook right before tackling me through a plate glass window. As I regained consciousness and began picking shards of glass out of my forehead the man explained to me the importance of wholesale noodle consumption. God bless you sir!

3. Black Cats are your friends!

Witches can transform into any creature they want, this is a well known fact (just like how they are made of wood) which is why if a black cat crosses your path you better turn around and run! The problem is that it could be the infamous spirit of Li Shou who wards off evil at night as he roams the streets in his cute and cuddly black cat form. This one concerned me because witches travel (and fast) so I had to find a way to root out evil. My solution: carry salt with you everywhere. If you see a black cat take a handful and throw it at the cat’s super soft, cuddly face and see what happens. If it is a witch it will be reduced to ash, if not you may have blinded some random kitty (warning: Chinese people might think a foreigner throwing salt at cats is a bit strange but better safe than ambushed by witches).

4. Don’t trim your nails at night!

This is a weird one but don’t cut your fingernails at night. Apparently it attracts ghosts (I guess it’s like catnip). Ghosts aren’t inherently bad luck but they’re definitely bad news. They normally haven’t talked to anyone in a while so they will you chat you up to no end and prevent you from getting any sleep. To be fair I don’t know why you’re cutting your toenails at 2 in the morning anyway unless you like the sound of ghostly apparitions rattling chains and lulling you to sleep with their boring, undead anecdotes (it’s all in Chinese anyway so I always have a hard time understanding).

5. Dreams of teeth are dreams of death!

Ok, all sarcasm aside I’ve heard that dreams of teeth falling out are extremely common. These dreams have been interpreted in a number of ways but the general consensus is they indicate periods of dramatic change in life (unless you’re Sigmund Freud and then it has something to do with sex, obviously). In China it’s a little more serious. A dream of teeth falling out means someone in your family has died. This seems like it could be easily proven false but in China family names are shared much more commonly (like if everyone in the states was named Smith, Springer and Williams). This means that if anyone dies there is a good chance you were related to each other somehow (and in the end aren’t we all related?)

Now that I live in China I have to be careful with my luck. There are a lot of conflicts between good luck in the East and good luck in the West so I have to pick and choose carefully. I’ve decided that luck must be based on some phenomena that changes as we travel the globe. With this in mind I carry a rabbit’s foot on me until my plane crosses the 75th longitude then I trade it for a bowl of long noodles keeping luck on my side!

Career Coaching

Ceci Wang, Senior Consultant at Stanton Chase International, provides added value to her company as a career coach. Many companies are investing in wellness programs and seeing dramatic results getting up to a 300% return on their investment through increased production, teamwork and even job satisfaction. On top of corporate wellness programs, Ceci works as a private career coach for everyone from executives trying sharpen their skills to new college graduates trying to start on the right path as soon as possible.

Job hunting is a challenge that involves a skill set all of its own. Many people don’t know what tools they need to attract the right company or catch the eye of an employer. Other people don’t even know what they’re really looking for or even what they’re good at. Just like learning an instrument or playing a sport there are people who can help. Career coaches are becoming common, equipping people with the right tools and the right mindset to go out and efficiently pursue a goal instead of throwing stacks of resumes at employers and hoping some stick.

A mix of coaching and counseling the goal is to identify a career path. This could mean finding an alternative career path or developing specific measurable steps to progress on a current career path. Some people know exactly what they want but don’t know how to get there while others have no particular direction. In either case a career coach can show you the best approach.

A career coach will also assess any psychological, behavioral or emotional issues that might be holding a candidate back. Many times a person is highly qualified for a position but lacks the soft skills required. The interview is an especially important process that may not have any reflection on the job itself but, as they say, first impressions are everything. Simple things like body language and tone are often over looked but play a major role in presenting yourself. A career coach can help identify and correct these things.

Many times it is simply beneficial to talk things through with another individual. Our aspirations can often be confusing and disjointed but when they are vocalized certain aspects become obvious while others expose themselves for being illogical or incongruous. Vocalizing these inner thoughts becomes especially beneficial when the person listening is unbiased and honest. They will not spare you for your personal feelings and will not be influenced by past knowledge of you. Honesty is often a hard thing to come by.

The paperwork involved in a job search can be overwhelming. Knowing how to tailor a resume and write an effective cover letter for different positions can be critical as well as managing other resources such as LinkedIn. A career coach can show you how to get the most mileage out of all these but a warning: a career coach will NOT manage these things for you. They can show you the way but in the end it is up to you to move forward.

Everyone is looking for the “quick fix” or a “magic bullet” but these are never the answer. It takes perseverance and dedication to advance. It takes a will to succeed and a refusal to quit. That does not mean you have to accomplish this alone. The greatest musicians had skilled teachers just like the greatest athletes had unrelenting coaches. The most successful employees had professional guidance.

We were very fortunate to have Ceci Wang mentor and coach our interns here at IntuuChina. If you would like to participate in her workshop or would like to improve your professional profile email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Valentine's day

In this day and age, Google translate plays a very important role in our lives. It can be a very helpful companion but, as most people know, is far from 100% accurate. With Valentine’s Day coming soon expats across Shanghai are brushing up on their repertoire of pillow talk and sweet nothings. The problem is Google translate might not be the best romantic coach.

I love you translates to “我爱你” (wǒ ài nǐ) which is fine except for one thing, Chinese people don’t use this in everyday conversation if at all. But wait, you might be saying, every Chinese song says我爱你 like it was going out of style! This is true but just like “baby” is used in every song as often as is federally allowed under public decency laws, Americans don’t walk down the street saying “hey baby” to everyone they meet.

For the Chinese it is too strong of a word. In a country that is generally very straight forward, issues of the heart can be a little more complex. Studies measuring electro activity in the brain support the idea that Chinese people respond to romance based on years of traditional conditioning.

Remember in grade school when telling a girl you like her was the same as saying you love her? Well bring out your backpack and pencil case because that’s the preferred way in China. 我喜欢你 (wǒ xǐ huān nǐ) means “I like you”. Another evasive seduction is 我希望和你交往 (wǒ xī wàng hé nǐ jiāo wǎng) which means “I would for us to date”.

When all else fails you can always rely on good old fashioned American charm and say “I love you!” in plain English (romantic music blaring out of a boom box is optional). Chinese people have begun using it themselves for its short sweetness and foreign obscurity.

However if you are really terrified of pledging your undying love aloud you can use China’s new “code”. Chinese youth have begun texting numbers which closely resemble the sounds of certain phrases. For example 520 ((wǔ èr ling) sounds like “我爱你” (wǒ ài nǐ). 530 (wǔ sān líng) sounds like 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ) which means “I miss you.” And, my personal favorite, 770 (qī qī líng) sounds like 亲亲你 (qīn qīn nǐ) which means “Kiss you.”

So next time you fall hopelessly in love with a gorgeous local remember to hide your love away, until the moment is right of course, and be subtle. Next time you’re at the bar maybe forego that drink and slide her a calculator with 520770 and watch her heart melt.

6 Reasons Why You Should Intern Abroad

Doing an internship while in University can benefit you in so many ways. It means you can get experience in your related field of study before graduating and therefore have more set skills than those who don’t do an internship once you’ve graduated. You can get your foot in the door and make professional connections with potential employers before your university career is over and you’re out in the “real world”. Even so, doing an internship abroad is a step up of just doing an internship in your home country. It not only helps you grow professionally but personally as well. You develop skills that can be applicable in any job and you can show them off to your prospective employer. It’s never too late to do an internship though. If you’ve graduated and are still having a hard time getting a job, an internship may be how you can get your foot in the door. If you want to change career paths, internships will train you so you can be ready to do your new job proficiently.

  1. Develop Professional Skills – Completing an internship in your field of interest or study will let you apply all those classroom concepts into real-life work experiences. You’re no longer reading about it in a textbook, but applying your knowledge to practical skills. You learn how to work in a company, what is expected of you and the other employees in a particular sector and you learn what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Improve Your Resume – Most graduates hardly meet the minimum requirements for an entry-level job, but listing an internship you completed abroad will always catch an HR manager’s eye. It can help you stand-out out of all the hundreds of applications they receive, especially if it’s a country where the language is that other than your own mother tongue. This will also give you a chance to talk about your time abroad and market yourself on how that experience helped you develop all the skills they are looking for because you rose to the challenge of leaving everything familiar and comfortable behind.
  3. International Connections – Going abroad gives you a chance to network with other global-minded people. There are many global companies and notably successful people in their own right you can meet when abroad. For example, we have connections with well-established people that are experts in their field and we help you connect with them. In the ever global market, having connections around the world will provide you with lots of opportunities in your future professional endeavors.
  4. Cross-cultural skills and sensitivity – Going abroad not only develops your professional skills and knowledge but your personal ones as well. It makes you more independent and more self-aware as you navigate your way around a different culture. You challenge yourself by stepping outside your comfort zone and takes risks. Living abroad opens your eyes to how different lifestyles can be. There are some things that may offend you about a different culture or likewise you may offend someone from a different culture but if you stay open-minded you learn there is more than one way to look at things.
  5. Introduction to Language or Language Proficiency – Here at IntuuChina, we offer internships in various sectors in China. So obviously, speaking some Mandarin is recommended but if not we also offer Chinese classes. And while Shanghai is an international city where you can get by with very basic Chinese, interning abroad and being willing to learn will expose you deeper into the culture and the foreign language. If you already have some experience with said foreign language, nothing reinforces the material like living in that country where you can strengthen your language skills. It also gives you something else to list on your resume.
  6. Find Your Dream Job – Internships expose you to different types of jobs. They let you discover and narrow your preferred fields or positions. If you find that you love your internship then stick it out and do your best because the majority of companies are willing to hire interns that excel.

China offers employment opportunities to recent grads, many that aren’t available in Europe or the U.S due to the economic recession and high rates of unemployment. Though many people think that the working abroad is near impossible because of the conflicting information available online, we offer our services to minimize any stress from visa to accommodation issues. Most importantly, we act as a liaison between the companies and potential interns so as to decrease any uncertainty on both sides and create the best match. Interning abroad will open a range of possibilities after your internship is over and you’re left with great connections, mentors, working experience and memories.

Benefits of completing international internships that can help you become more skilled, impress HR managers and land your next dream job.

The different Expats in China

In China, and especially in Shanghai, you can meet expats from all over the World. We classified them into 5 different stereotypes, so you can identify them in which stage of their life they are. 

1) The Students:

Those who came to China to start their Bachelor/Master degree or the ones that stayed here just for a year or even for an exchange semester. This group cannot really be considered expats due to their short-term stay. They are usually very excited and therefore change their Facebook location upon arrival. Despite the fact that they don’t have much money, they spend everything they have on overweight baggage fees and first aid kits, which might never be opened (but who knows what can happen 7,000 Km away from home). They have a diet based on noodles, rice and dumplings; the exact same things, during their first months. After a while, they will be sick of it and start spending a lot of money on Western food caused, in part, by homesickness.

 

2) The Teachers:

Here we are referring to those young teachers with fresh degrees in their hands. It is usually a pleasant job since having a Western face helps being well paid as it attracts tons of students. This stage of life is basically based on trips around Southeast Asia – especially Boracay and Bangkok –, running into class in their pajamas (because who the H*** actually wakes up after the first alarm?), already sick of Chinese food and realizing they can't drink fake alcohol anymore. In other words, the exact same student life you used to have but experimenting more with adulthood responsibilities.

 

3) The Young Professional:

Young adults working for start-ups, international companies, magazines… These expats are usually found in big cities since they cannot live without a Western meal – yet. This stage in life is defined by spending too much money on delicacy (imported food, specially cheese and alcohol), experiencing the underground at peak times of the day, traveling to discover real China by going to shady parts of the country, and being ignored by their Chinese landlords. It's a time of real independency.

 

4) The Professional Professional:

These are the actual expats, the root of the meaning EXPAT. They are characterized by having Western salaries, stay half a year in China and half a year abroad. These are the ones that the country is sooooo desperately trying to attract more of. It's a time of career growth, without forgetting buying Starbucks coffee everyday because they can; spending tons of money on the best air purifiers, and become best friends of their drivers – psychologists as well –, who stay with them all day long.

 

5) The Family Expat:

The professional expat with a family at the back. In most cases, their companies set them up in houses that look like a fake version of … (I would say) any nice European or American neighborhood you can imagine. (I know what you are thinking, but not everything in China is copied from Western countries). Their kids study in international schools, they buy even more air purifiers so can cover every single corner of their gorgeous house, fill their kitchen with delicatessen Western food, letting “ayis” - nannies and cleaning ladies - raise their kids. It's a time of extremes, comfort and anxiety.

 

Being an expat in China has its ups and its downs, like everything else. But it is a great experience that will definitely change your life and make you learn and grow.

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