China is becoming one of the world’s top study abroad destinations. There are hundreds of reasons to want to intern abroad in China. Some people want to get experience in a country that is becoming a world leader in business, others want to experience China’s vast countryside and cities, but almost everyone goes to China to learn about Chinese culture and language. Now that we offer internships in Shanghai, China, we've gathered some common practices and advice to help you prevent making any cultural mishaps during your internship in Shanghai.
Exchanging Business Cards
The Chinese believe that a business card is an extension of a person and must be treated with respect. ALWAYS give and accept business cards with two hands! After you’ve accepted a card read it over and put it in a safe place. This is a show of respect- and that’s key in Asia!
Getting Up Close and Personal
Forget everything you know about personal space- China has 1.3 Billion people! That’s billion with a ‘B’! You can definitely feel it when you are there too. The philosophy of personal space does not exist. So get ready to be up close and personal!
Before you arrive, practice practice practice your chopstick skills. Lack of chopstick ability can indicate a lack of education or poor upbringing. Also, NEVER rest your chopsticks vertically in rice as it symbolizes death. Most restaurants will have chopstick stands where you can place them. If not, you can lay the chopsticks across the edge of the bowl.
Understanding the Chinese concept of “face” is essential for any working professional. Face is a complex mix of public perception, social roles and self-esteem. Be aware of your behaviors, as well as the customs of the Chinese, to make sure you don’t accidentally "lose" face and possibly ruin business relationships.
Personal questions in China are VERY personal. Don’t be surprised if they ask how much money you make, if you have a significant other, or about your educational background. This is not meant to be rude, they are simply looking for common ground.
You’re a celebrity and you didn’t even know it! It is not uncommon for foreigners in China to be asked for photos on the street for no other reason than being a foreigner, especially if you’re tall. So get used to taking photos with strangers!
Like personal space, the Chinese philosophy on lining up is ‘lax’ to say the least. You may be in line to get tickets and someone will cut in front of you especially if they are older than you. This is not considered rude in China. Embrace the strangeness!
No Pointing or Whistling Allowed
It is consider rude to point with an index finger. If you need to point, use an open hand instead. Other habits that the Chinese consider rude are whistling and putting feet up on a table or chair.
There is an old Chinese saying ‘the Chinese will eat anything with four legs except the table’. Get ready to experience cuisine that challenges your idea of what’s possible for dinner! Some of the more interesting items you’ll see on a menu in Shanghai can include seahorse, crocodile, scorpion, and locust! Dig in!
Start the ADVENTURE NOW!
Have you ever been to Shanghai or elsewhere in China? What Chinese cultural advice would you offer to young professionals who will be interning in Shanghai for a few weeks?