Cheap Living

Tailor-made clothes!

Why pay designer prices when you can haggle your way to a Gucci knockoff for an iota of the price. Sure the hem isn’t perfect but learning to sew is a valuable skill anyways. Stay abreast of all the latest fashions without being fashionably rich.

Live and die by the noodle!

Noodle places are a dime a dozen in China but don’t judge a book by its cover! Find someone to go with and sample as many noodle shops as possible and you will quickly find that appearances are deceiving. Some of the chain noodle restaurants are sub-par and lackluster while some of the shadier looking spots are actually home to chefs who have perfected the subtle art of noodles. Find a spot and stick to it trusting in the staff to make whatever dish you point at delicious.

Baozi and Jiaozi everywhere!

You’re Chinese doesn’t have to be perfect but you should learn all the local delicacies. Steamed buns and dumplings pour out onto every street and are both delicious and cheap. Vegetarians and meat lovers can both find tasty treats to replace that 30RMB burger which is probably worse than gutter oil for your already beleaguered stomach. Also, look in your local supermarket for frozen dumplings, probably the greatest thing since the frozen breakfast burrito!

Rice Cookers!

A cheap investment that quickly pays for itself! Rice is literally cheaper than dirt and makes a solid base for any meal. Buy a view vegetables and fry up some chicken for a filling meal at less than 20RMB! On top of being cheap it provides peace of mind since you know everything that goes into your meal instead of trusting your local chef who may, or may not, be up to speed on his culinary prowess.

Have a night out at FamilyMart!

When the weather gets nice we all want to spend the night outdoors. The problem comes when some western restaurants charge 80RMB for a drink. So how can we enjoy the night and not pulverize our wallets? The local corner store has a solution! Many of these corner stores come fully equipped with large patios, tables, parasols and, of course, open skies! reasonably priced drinks and snacks all at bargain prices. Take advantage of China’s leniency and bring a grill and some speakers for a full blown patio party!

Chinese New Year

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It’s a time of homecoming, when all generations of a single family gather under one roof. Food, drink and, of course, fireworks are the outward signs of this gathering but what they represent and the history that they pass on is vastly more important. Marcus Garvy said it best: A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Like its counterparts all over the world, Chinese New Year fulfills a fundamental human desire for unity and a connection with our past.

For a newly arrived foreigner in China, midnight of New Years Day can be terrifying. Strings of firecrackers erupt on every street corner as people compete to make the most ear splitting performances of firepower. Looking down from an apartment gives a bird’s eye view of what could easily be confused for an artillery barrage as smoke drifts across the warring sides. These are no isolated incidents. Across the city the scene is the same. The Chinese have come out in force to drive away the evil monster Nian, which use to plague villages by burning the fields, killing livestock and even devouring little children. This would have continued if not for a mysterious old man who showed villagers that the monster was afraid of loud noises.

The newly arrived foreigner will undoubtedly notice the color red. Red streamers, red lanterns, red calligraphy, red clothing and red envelopes barrage the senses and fill the streets with good fortune and joy. Although red is an important color at any time of year it is especially so during the New Year festivities. As the evil monster Nian rampaged through the villages he was frightened by the firecrackers. Turning aside to find a more convenient victim his vision was assaulted by a loathsome color, a color that made his head spin and his stomach turn. The villagers had draped red across their doors, over the streets and on the roofs as they had been shown by a mysterious old man.

Our newly arrived foreigner may have seen the lion, or dragon, dances in films before. A tradition where dancers are dressed and masked to resemble fierce creatures, they dance in teams to move the body in leaping motions. Accompanied by drums and cymbals the beasts parade the streets in bright colors. As the terrible creature Nian turned from the firecrackers and became disgusted by the color red, he finally felt terror facing these new foes and fled the villages. Again, the mysterious old man had shown the villagers that Nian was a coward and feared these outlandish animals.

These traditions have been passed on for centuries and are still observed across China. Along with Confucian ideals of respect for your elders and cultural values of good manners, New Years takes all the indefinable qualities of the Chinese and embodies them in something as simple as a pair of chopsticks. Though the monster Nian may not be bold enough to assault the streets of modern Shanghai, the mysterious old man might still be sharing his ancient secrets and teaching children the importance of their heritage.

Alex Salvans Interview

­Alex – Profile

Alex arrived in China last February in Shanghai to start his internship in a real estate agency as Marketing Intern. We catch up with him on his fantastic professional journey in China where he has to overcome cultural barriers and adapt in an environment far away from home… So far, he has managed to adapt quickly to China by himself… and also with our help!

 

Name: Alex

From: Barcelona, Spain

Age: 22

Study Background: Bachelor degree in Business Administration in Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC)

Graduation: after internship

 

What pushed you to seek an internship in China?

I’m in my last year at university and, in my opinion, it’s really interesting to put theory into practice and learn through an internship before getting a real job. I decided to do my internship in China because I love travelling to faraway places. I sadly missed out on Erasmus back in Europe and I didn’t want to repeat this mistake. Moreover, a friend of mine lived in China for 6 years and recommended me to come over and join him. So I said, “Let’s try!”

What do you expect to gain from your internship in China?

I want to learn more about marketing, customer service, talking to customers, have a hands-on experience of what it is to work in a real company and better prepare me for my future.

You’ve been here for nearly two months now, what are your first impressions of China?

I’m really amazed with China because in spite of the fact that everything looks so different here, I still manage to feel good. I had some problems when I arrived but it was easy to solve them. I’m very pleased with the help received during my first weeks.

… And what about work?

It is going very well. My day-to-day tasks are basically taking incoming calls from customers looking for apartments in Shanghai, filling-in forms with the clients requirements so that we can find suitable apartment for them as soon as possible and talking to Chinese agents that take care of the apartment sales. Work is tough, I’m working a lot of hours every day. I learnt quite a lot of new things already and I meet lots of new people and expats on a daily basis. Some of them are really nice and I liked it. I’m also getting along well with my colleagues.

Did you have any difficulties so far?

I haven’t had many difficulties and when I encountered any I could always solve them by myself or thanks to my friends’ help. The difficulties I had weren’t impossible to solve.

What about the language? Has your Chinese improved?

I haven’t got around studying Chinese yet… Shame on me! However, I plan to start studying Mandarin next week to get some basic knowledge. Chinese people don’t speak English but there are ways around it such as internet translators or dictionaries. Generally speaking, I’d say one can survive in Shanghai only with English language.

How are you finding IntuuChina services?

The IntuuChina services were really good. Irene (the internship placement manager) was super nice and charming. She helped me a lot with the job itself and the apartment search. All problems I had were attended to by the IntuuChina team. They are really nice and I’d give them 8 out of 10.

One word to qualify your state of mind right now?

… Impressed.

You can contact Alex directly and ask her for more questions through her Facebook (Hyperlink: https://www.facebook.com/) or email address (mailto: asalvans7@uic.es)

Tempted by the experience? Contact us now on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. #chinawantsyou!

El principio del “mei guan xi”

La segunda vez que vengo y nada ha cambiado desde la última vez que pisé China. A pesar de haber tenido ya casi un año de experiencia en este país, sigue sorprendiéndome en todas sus manifestaciones.

Gracias a mi primer contacto, exactamente el año pasado, he empezado a pregonar por todo el mundo, lo que yo llamo, el principio del “mei guan xi”. Desconozco si tal principio realmente existe en la filosofía china o en cualquier otra filosofía existente.

¿Qué quiere decir? Hay muchas traducciones que se pueden encontrar en la red. El concepto de “mei guan xi” se traduce como: “No pasa nada, It doesn't matter, It's all right, Sin problemas...” Y, os preguntaréis a qué me ha llevado a desarrollar este principio para mi día a día, aplicable tanto en China como en otro país del mundo.

Mi historia comienza nada más llegar. Esta vez, la primera semana china me había recibido ya con muchos “problemas técnicos” en casa. Desde un retrete bloqueado, una lavadora que intenta despegar, un internet que tiene wifi pero no conecta a la red, hasta una e-bike que parece arrollada por un camión. ¡Y todo esto en menos de un mes!

Si todo esto me hubiera pasado en España, por ejemplo, sin titubear ya estaría llamando a Atención al Cliente a reclamar. Pero en este país, si una persona no está acostumbrada a los “estándares chinos” ni tampoco domina el lenguaje de Confucio, con estos pequeños problemas técnicos, a cualquiera se le hubiera agotado la paciencia. Ya no sólo por la barrera idiomática, sino también por la lentitud de los chinos (cuando quieren) para hacer las cosas.

Mi chino básico de supervivencia me ayudó un poco a expresar cuál era mi problema, pero el mérito se lo lleva IntuuChina ya que uno de sus servicios es proporcionar a una persona que se encarga de este tipo de cosas. La sensación de poder contar con alguien casi a cualquier hora del día para  cualquier “problema técnico”, tanto en casa como con los papeleos, y que se encargue de gestionarlo todo sin tener que andar detrás de nadie, supone un gran alivio.

El hecho de tener a esta persona disponible para este tipo de cuestiones, que te entiende y sabe cómo comunicárselo al local chino, es un gran apoyo para poder sobrellevar el día a día en este país. En el caso de no tenerlo, recomiendo que vayan practicando la “filosofía del mei guan xi” de forma intensiva ya que si no trabajan la paciencia en este país, terminarán por perder los estribos y seguro que no conseguirán gran cosa.

This is the second time I’ve lived in China and nothing has changed since the last time I set foot here. Though last time it was in a small city called Yiwu (Zhejiang Province), this time my destination was Shanghai. Despite having had almost a year of experience in this country, it continues to amaze me in all its manifestations.

Thanks to my first experience in China last year, I started to preach all around the world what I call the principle of "mei guan xi". So what does it mean? I’m not sure if such a principle already exists in Chinese philosophy but there are many translations you can find online with just a simple Google search. The concept of “mei guan xi” can be translated as, “no big deal, it doesn’t matter, it’s alright, or no problem”. You may ask what has led me to develop this principle to my day to day life here that’s applicable in China and everywhere else in the world for that matter.

My story begins as soon as I arrived to my apartment. My first week in China brought lots of obstacles due to "technical problems" at home. From a blocked toilet, a washing machine that tries to take flight, having wifi that doesn’t connect to the network, to an e-bike that looks like it was hit by a truck. All of this happened in less than a month’s time, one right after the other!

If all of this would have happened in Spain I would be calling customer service to complain without hesitation.In this country if a person is not used to the "Chinese standard" nor dominates the language of Confucius they are going to be stressing. Not only is there a language barrier, but a cultural difference where customer service can be slow.

My basic Chinese along with my innovative survival skills (i.e. signing overtly and taking a picture of the toilet) helped me explain some of my problems.The outstanding merit really goes to IntuuChina, where they take charge of assisting interns with their needs and any issues that come about. They have a Chinese assistant who helps you overcome communication barriers. The feeling of having someone available for help at any time of the day, for any problem, is a life-saver. They save me from stress both at home and with all the paperwork.They manage to take care of everything without having to go after anyone, and it’s a huge relief.

The fact that you can have these resources to adapt to your new life in China is a great support that can help you cope with day to day obstacles you may have. If you don’t have this kind of support system, then I highly recommend you practice my “mei guan xi” philosophy intensively or else you will eventually lose your temper and you won’t achieve anything.

“Mei Guan Xi” translated as “no big deal, it’s alright, or no problem” is a mantra one can practice to remain calm when things go wrong China.

About Intuuchina

Hooray! Don’t judge us too much if we congratulate ourselves…

We’ve been featured in B-UIC Magazine published by the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences (FCES) at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC) in Barcelona, Spain.  As our founders all hail from Barcelona, and Marc Ramon Hernadez graduated from the esteemed UIC, we are flattered by the attention and honored to be a window into Chinese business.

In the article Hernandez and Fernando de Zavala, two of three founders, are interviewed about their work experience in China and their motivation to start IntuuChina.  Hernandez and de Zavala explain that IntuuChina, which offers post-arrival support, personalized placement and business mentors, serves a niche in the China recruiting market: “We immediately realized that these [other headhunting companies] were selling their practices as an isolated service and they were placing you in companies that were not really your objective…we realized that if the two market leaders were providing a service that was below expectations, then there was a need there, a gap to be filled.”

Throughout the post, Hernandez and de Zavala mention their own personal experiences studying and working in China, careful to point out differences with other parts of the world. A key point is the intensity of business relationship.  Unlike the West, which relies on business networking as a pool of skills, business contacts are much more familial in China. 

Hernandez explains the need for ‘guanxi’ the unique word to describe the Chinese corporate kin-like relationship.  He remembers the difficulty of beginning a career in China without having his own ‘guanxi’: the main drawback [to working in China] is that it is very difficult to establish commercial relationships and not to be passed over if you don’t have a good position, work in a good company or have not obtained a first introduction through someone trusted by the person you want to be introduced to.” 

We’re so proud of Marc and pleased with the story because it showcases our team’s knowledge of working in China.  Additionally, the piece illustrates our eagerness to connect students and young professionals to this part of the world so that they can experience dynamic market for themselves. 

Please find a link to the entire magazine and full version of the story appearing on pages 27-28 via this link: http://www.uic.es/en/b-uic