A foodie’s adventure in China

a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.
It is a fact that every normal person needs food in order to survive but those who seek out food are associate with the term “foodie”. It is undoubtedly a strategy to increase the food market but I can’t find another term to explain my behaviour.
When I feel bored, I go online and search through blogs to look at picture of food. Every evening, I like to watch different cooking programs for hours and hours. I really like cute things but I don’t like to eat sweets, still I find myself searching for cake shops and order the whole menu. Don’t misunderstand, I am not a fat person, I just enjoy cooking and food.
Every place has it’s own culinary … Don’t you also feel like your stomach isn’t big enough to enjoy all the wonderful food in the world. In China, every city and district has it’s own flavour for example Shanghai’s sweet food and Sichuan’s spicy food. Here in Qingdao they like to eat seafood and spicy food. The city was once a German colony this can be seen by the historical building in the city and the foreign restaurants.
 Here you can see some of the food that I’ve eaten these two weeks.
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Transporting cattle

China has one big problem that is known to many people: the overpopulation.

You can see it on the streets, the traffic on the road, busses, department stores, practically everywhere. Many might know about the overpopulation in China, it has been a big issue for many years. The one child policy was forced on the people in order to decrease the population but it doesn’t seem like it has made any big changes.  Chinese consume this tiny globe for 20% of all the population, you can notice it whenever you travel to any country. It doesn’t matter whether you go to France, Mexico or Timboektoe, they are simply everywhere. Now, I have entered the den of the lion, I faced my fears and seen the reality of mass population. Don’t get me wrong, China is a paradise, there are many activities to do and food which are mouth watering but every paradise has some bad points.

On rainy days, some of you might know this song by BEAST. I like it very much, it is really nice to listen to it on rainy days.  As I slowly walked, I tried to erase all of you, but when the rain falls again all the memories that I tried to erase, come back to me.

I am not talking about some dramatic love, I am simply referring to the mass of people that gather on rainy days at bus stops. On sunny days, people will take the bike, motor, or simply walk to work but on rainy days, everyone has some kind of party at the busstop.

There are 2 bus lines which I can take to work. These busses come every 5 minutes. I waited one hour for my bus.

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I don’t know if the results are clear on the pictures but I will try to explain it thoroughly. I woke up this morning at 6:30AM and walked out of my front door at 7:15AM. Usually it takes me 25-30 min to get to the company but during rush hour its simply impossible to go to work. So I stood there, waiting for the bus and staring at the people for an hour. I just simply couldn’t believe what I was witnessing and for an hour, I had to stop myself from crying.

Back in the days, they used to transport cattle with trains. To save money, cattle would be pushed inside the train to fill every tiny hole. Many people protested against the mistreatment of the cattle and fought for the rights of these animals. But who is going to fight for humans who treat themselves like cattle, shoved into a tiny train?

Sometimes life shows you a little cruelty of life to make you appreciate what you have or once had. As I stood their waiting for the bus, the one thing that I truly felt sad about was me. I grew up in Europe, where life was not easy but liveable. It might have been a bit boring because life just ends at 6PM, when all the shops close and people go from work to home. It might have also been hard because I was the only asian in my school but I never really had to face some cruel. These people grew up, getting used to the fact that they have to jump in a overpacked bus in order to get to work on time. I remember when I whined about not having a seat in the train after my part-time job.

First day at work

I felt so nervous when I had to start on my first day at the company. I have been in Korea for 4 months and the public transportation system was really easy to understand ones I could read the characters. Korean takes like 1 month to study how to read and Chinese maybe 2 years. So when I had to take the bus by myself, I was breaking out in cold sweat.

So the mommy of the household brought me to the busstation and I told her that she could leave me. The mommy which is like an angel, told me that she would take the bus with me and I managed to keep  myself from cheering out loud. So she brought me to the company and I memorised the way. When we arrived at the company, I said that she could leave and go to her company. She told me that she wanted to talk to my boss before she left. So the reason why she stayed was because she wanted to tell the boss that someone should take the bus with me home. I don’t know if it is normal that home stay mommies are angels or people in Qingdao are too nice compared to the rest of China. So I arrived to the company (XMandarin) and everyone was very friendly.

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The reason why I chose to work at this company was really simple. Even though I don’t get an allowance, i still get the opportunity to get private class. I immigrated at the age of 6 to the Netherlands, so I never had the chance to study Chinese. On internet you can find many companies and school who offer the possibility to study Chinese in a short period but its a very difficult language that acquires more time. The prices also differs but they are all still too expensive and many can’t afford it. When I saw the vacancy online, I was a bit desperate to find an internship asap. After talking to the agency and the school, I felt more confident and enthusiastic.

My new family

When I arrived at the airport in Qingdao, my colleague was standing at the gate waiting for me. Together we took the taxi to my host family, which took about 30 min and 60 yuan (Chinese money).

Before I arrived in China, my company already searched for an accommodation for me. When I saw the first few pictures, I was happily surprised.

Here you can see the buildings, they are located in the new part of Qingdao near the Library. This area is called the Violet Palace, it consist of 5 buildings with 29 floors. The floors are divided into two separate houses whom can be reached by a elevator with a lock. The family lives on the 7th floor. There was a big main gate with two guards, whom looked a bit suspicious about our visit. After my colleague explained the purpose of our visit, he let us enter this palace.

On the left side, you can see the front gate with golden decorations.
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The family was very friendly and did their best to make me feel comfortable. They brought me to my room and I took a quick shower.

The building in the middle is the own where the family lives in, the picture on the right side shows the view from my window.

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The family consists of two kids, mommy, daddy, grandma and a 保姆 (house maid) and with me. It almost seems impossible to fit all these people into half an apartment, but each of us have our own room and there are 3 bathrooms available in the house.

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Start of something new

Searching for an internship in China almost seems impossible. Google results just give you millions of agencies that all offer the best internships for an unaffordable price.

For my university in the Netherlands, I had to find an internship abroad to complete my third year. Last February I had been enjoying my exchange period in South Korea and I just delayed my search for an internship to enjoy my time in Korea. When I came back home and received an email that I had to find an internship immediately, I panicked like a litt
le lamb chased by a wolf. So I started my search for an internship and went through all the possibilities. In our school, I have never heard of anyone who found an internship easily without connections. Unfortunately my parents are not business tycoons with millions of connections so I had to do it with just Google.

Many might know the irritations that Google can give you when you can’t find what you’re searching for. I spend most of my time screaming at Google to just give me an internship, which didn’t seem like a scam from some weird agency. After searching for hours, I accidentally bumped into this website called http://www.sinacon.cn which is an agency. I searched through the website to find the magic word: “Pay by credit card” but I couldn’t find it anywhere. When I found an interesting internship, I contacted them still doubting about the price tag.

The company gave me a response within 4 hours (due to the time differences of 6 hours with the Netherlands). They provided me with all the information and Skyped to make sure that I was an eligible student and not some old geezer. After the Skype call, they contacted the company immediately and a few hours later I was talking to my “now” employer. Everything went so smoothly and I still can’t believe that I found this internship by myself.

The thing about China is that it is all about relationships and connections. Most companies takes in people who were introduced by someone from the management or some other high position. Internships are even harder to find China, most companies take in people from Ivy leagues or competitive elites with sets of skills that are impossible to compete with. Most of the internships are also unpaid simply because the competition is too high. It almost seems impossible to enter the Chinese market and get a glimpse of the ever-growing Chinese empire.