This page is designed to give you a run-down on the preparation for coming to China on an Intern China program.
The Visa for China: Firstly if you book any of our programmes please don't worry, we will help you every step of the way to get your Visa for China. Your passport has to be valid and not due to expire within 6 months for you to come to China. If you don't have a passport, please follow the official procedure to get one in your country. U.S citizens can click the "get a passport" picture (left)!
You can apply for your visa at the earliest 50 days before your trip. It can be processed in one day if you pay extra and show up in person to the Chinese embassy/consulate in your country. However, if you're are not living close to a city where a Chinese embassy is located, please keep the time for the postal service in mind if you do not plan to go there personally. We will provide you with all the documentation you need, including an official invitation letter, which will enable you to apply for an F-Visa (Business Visa), which is the official visa for internships in China. On the right is a sample to show you what the Chinese visa will look like in your passport once it is issued.
The official website and first port of call for all visa applications is www.visaforchina.org. You can find out all the information you need about application in your home country on this website. Privately owned visa agencies such as www.cibt.de (Germany and worldwide) and visas.trailfinders.com (UK) can also apply for your visa on your behalf if the process is too confusing or you have little time to get the application done.
Vaccinations: You don't necessarily have to be vaccinated before your arrival in China. Generally, there are some recommended, but non-compulsory vaccinations for your stay in China: Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria and measles if you did not already have them. For more details, please check: www.cdc.gov.
Money: Currency exchange and cashing traveller's checks can be done in every major bank, at the airports and across both Qingdao and Zhuhai, for which you'll need your passport with you. It is easy and quick to withdraw money with your EC-Card, Credit Card or Debit Card at any ATM. Another advantage of using an ATM once you're here is that you don’t need to bring a lot of cash with you. If you are searching for an appropriate banks with favourable offers, the DKB (Deutsche Bank) in Germany or Halifax in the UK - money can be withdrawn for free or at a very low rate. For the latest exchange rate, we recommend you check out www.xe.com/ucc. In big stores, you can also use credit cards (Visa, Mastercard or American Express) or debit cards to pay for goods directly.
Phone: Don’t leave your mobile at home because our 'welcome package' contains a prepaid card for your mobile phone. We will let you know the number beforehand so that your relatives and friends can call you immediately after your arrival. If your mobile has a SIM-lock, you can buy a second-hand mobile in one of the small shops in Qingdao. In this case the menu language will be in Chinese characters so ask the chinese shop assistant to switch the language into English for you.
Cultural differences: There are tonnes of cultural differences in China but we would just like to highlight some really important ones for you that we feel are useful: people do not drink tap water even though the government claims that in some cities it is drinkable by now. In Qingdao, it is definitely not, so make sure you only drink boiled or bottled water, which is readily available and very cheap! It is a sign of hospitality in China to ‘force’ the guest to eat as much as he can. Furthermore it is seen as a sign for not having served enough food if everything has been eaten up at the end, so don’t wonder if you eat till you burst and the table is still full. Also don’t be surprised if sweet and sour food will be eaten at the same time. The chance to speak English is still rare, so don’t be astonished if someone uses the opportunity to talk English with you as a foreigner – take it as a chance to find new friends. Take care when you cross the streets, in China the cars seldom stop for pedestrians. Another cultural difference is spitting; although it is becoming better due to several campaigns from the government, be prepared that people will spit in front of your feet on the street or even in shops and buses. For more general information, check the following links:
You could also check out our blog: "Stereotype and Prejudice"
If you are interested in doing some preliminary reading, have a look at some of our suggestions: Books, more books and German books.
When you arrive we will give you an introduction in person at our office in either Qingdao, Zhuhai or Chengdu. You will receive information about transportation, money, and other practical stuff which will help you in your daily life in China. You will have the chance to ask any questions and we will make sure everything is ok with your accommodation and if there is anything we can do to make you feel at home.
Prices in Qingdao, Zhuhai and Chengdu: In order to give you an impression how affordable it can be to live over here, we would like to give you some examples of the prices of some typical purchases: a T-shirt: 60-120 RMB, a bottle of Qingdao beer: 3-6 RMB, a pair of sneakers: 70-120 RMB, a bus ticket: 1 RMB or 2 RMB, taxi: 7-10 RMB for the first 3 kilometers, then 1.2 RMB per kilometer, a meal: 8-30 RMB
Time Zones: Despite the size of the country, China has only one time zone! We are seven hours ahead of GMT (GMT+7), so if it is 10:00am GMT, then it is 4:00 pm in China. This changes by one hour (GMT+8) in the summertime due to daylight savings time. In the U.S, China is 12 hours ahead of the East Coast (EST+12). A useful website for seeing the current time in China can be found here.
Chinese power outlets: Electricity Voltage in China is 220 volts. All you need is an adapter if your country uses a different voltage. Power outlets have a different shape this means you must have a converter as well! In China we have a standard flat 2 or 3 pin plug (see picture) which you will find across Asia.
Clothes to pack: You can buy clothes really cheaply in China so you can pack light, but make sure to bring your shoes if you have a bigger foot because you may not find your size. Girls if you want to swim you should bring your own swimsuit or bikini because you will not find a good choice of western style ones here. Guys if you want something more than a tight swimsuit you may want to bring your own swimming trunks too.
First aid checklist: Eye drops, Sunblock, Bug spray (there are mosquitoes in the summer in Qingdao, Zhuhai and Chengdu), Band-Aids, Swiss Army Knife, Lip Balm, Hair dryer, preferred brands of over-the-counter medications (cold & flu tablets, etc.), Immodium, Tylenol, Advil, etc. (Aspirin, Ibuprophen, Acetaminophen, etc.), travel sickness medicine, sunglasses, vitamins, any prescription medicine (be sure to bring a copy of the prescription with you), and an extra pair of prescription glasses (if you wear them).