Luca during his internship in China

"Shanghai is a big city so it is different for everyone to experience. If you like to explore new cultures and try out new things, Shanghai is really cool!" Read Luca's experience here!

  • Adventure
  • Internship Abroad
  • Studying Abroad
  • Living Abroad
  • Working Abroad
  • Asia
  • China
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Hey! Who are you and where are you from? Where do you study/live/work?

Hi my name is Luca, I am from Leiden and I am currently studying in Amsterdam.

What was the first thing you thought when you arrived in China?

Hmm, the first thing that went through me was how I was going to find transport to the Airbnb that I had booked for the 1st week. Furthermore, there was pretty little English information to find around me what made it even more difficult. Besides that, Google, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram are not available so you have to download a VPN.

What was the most shocking difference between the Netherlands and China?

Overpopulation, 24 million people live in Shanghai (the city is 1/8 size of the Netherlands). During the rush hours, it’s like an anthill in the metro stations, but I have to say a well-organized anthill. Life is fast and organized. It is a very structured society. Furthermore, not many people speak English. They learn it in school but they simply cannot apply it unless they are with a foreigner so they are pretty withdrawn when it comes to speaking English. There are enough Chinese students who have studied abroad so the young people generally speak English.

What does your daily work day look like?

I usually go to the office on a shared bike. I start at 09:30 and am busy until 6:30 PM. I work in an international company. Majority of the team was still Chinese but there were also some Europeans and Americans. And everyone in the company speaks English.

How is the working atmosphere at your internship company?

It’s fun. I work in an open office with quite young colleagues. There are also many other interns that I usually have lunch with and that I also plan weekend trips with to other cities in China.

Have you ever been homesick? How did you handle this?

No not really. Sometimes the Chinese culture can be a bit of a struggle but if you are interested in culture, then you can give everything a place. There are also many western places (restaurants, bars and clubs) in Shanghai so if you really cannot handle it anymore, you can always start living in the expat circles.

Do you feel at home in China? Why (not)?

Hmm, not really. The language barrier makes it difficult to really feel 'at home'. I follow Chinese lessons twice a week and now also speak basic Chinese. I can order food and carry small talk. But people are just very open in general and with sign language you can get further than you think haha. And there are also many translation apps that can help.

Is there a typical local dish that you really can not eat (or really like)?

I'm not that hard with food so I tried everything. Chicken feet, chicken heart, ox tongue and other dishes. Sometimes I didn’t know what something was and I think I didn’t want to know it either, but I just tried it. If you are a difficult eater you will have a hard time in China. There are enough western fast food restaurants. It is not the case that all the dishes are very crazy. You can get fried rice with salmon and salad or fried noodles with chicken and bell pepper. Oh, and spicy in China, is very spicy for Dutch standards.

Give us tips on who to become friends with abroad. The Russians? The Irish? The Chilean?

The Chinese themselves. I myself chose China because I was interested in the culture and the country. The best way to get in touch with the culture is by meeting up with Chinese people. You just have to find the younger students who speak English, there are many of them since most have also studied abroad. Due to the language barrier it is sometimes difficult to find or try everything, but if you are with a local you experience much more of the culture.

Describe the people of China in three words.

Okay, the people of China cannot be described in only 3 words as they vary by region haha. So it is for Shanghai: friendly, stressed and polite (to a certain extent).

What did you learn from your experience abroad? Was it the beloved community that you liked? The cheap cocktails? The beautiful nature? Or was your experience less than expected? Details, we want details!

Interesting experience, interesting culture. Have also seen that there are many opportunities here in China. After 3 months, I am also convinced that 2 years of learning Chinese is a better investment of time than working on a bachelor for 4 years (combination is ideal). Shanghai is a big city so it is different for everyone to experience. It can become very hot in August especially. But if you like to explore new cultures and try out new things, Shanghai is really cool. And I really recommend Chinese lessons because it is a really different world. English does not always work, speaking Chinese is the only way into the culture.