Nightlife and Entertainment
China provides a vast variety in terms of nightlife and entertainment. In addition to clubs and bars, tea houses and spas, which are often open until late into the night, street restaurants serve delicious food around the clock. And the best part is that everything is incredibly inexpensive.
Today’s Chinese cities have almost everything to offer, which is not surprising regarding a growing population of around 5-30 million people per major city. Whether you feel like going to the theater, the cinema, visit an art gallery, concerts, the opera or acrobatics performances, you will surely find it – among many other things. Additionally Chinese usually pursue at least one sport.
Therefore you will find many opportunities to exercise. Not only is free sports equipment provided by public parks, but you will also find a variety of sports courts and training halls. Mainly you can engage in a wide range of traditional Asian disciplines such as Tai Chi, martial arts, or yoga. However, common Western sports are also very popular.
In addition to that, you will benefit from the fact that shopping and entertainment are not restricted to daytime. Most things, services and activities are available until at least ten o’clock at night.If you need suggestions or help in planning your time off, your personal advisor will be happy to be of assistance.
A Chinese proverb states: “Food is the heaven of the masses”. This clearly shows the importance of food to the Chinese. Here the traditional Chinese holistic approach regarding almost all things is expressed in many ways. An important criterion is the perfect balance of aroma, appearance and taste. Furthermore a good meal has to comprise the five flavors spicy, sour, sweet, bitter and salty, which also have to be in harmony. In addition, many ingredients are selected according to aspects of traditional Chinese medicine and are used only during the preparation of the meal and not in the dish itself.
Chinese love their food fresh and therefore like to go out for eating, also because it is so inexpensive. A rule of thumb is that at least one dish per person should be ordered. Each dish is then placed in the middle of the table so that everyone can eat what they like. Despite the strict rules regarding the preparation of Chinese food, when it comes to eating itself there are few rules in everyday life. The most important thing is that one feels comfortable.
Typical Chinese dishes
Clear table rules are only necessary at official occasions. These rules are very similar to those of the Western world with the exception of the sitting order. However, there is no need to worry. As a foreigner, you will be shown your seat, and usually the seat of honor will be assigned to you. In China it is considered polite to serve food and drinks to the guests sitting close to you. If you stick to this rule and pour your table neighbor a drink or put some food on his or her plate, they will appreciate that very much and praise you for your intercultural skills. If something should be put on your plate that you do not like, just try a little and leave the rest there. This signals your hosts, in a polite fashion, that you would rather skip the next round. In the case that you are invited to a Chinese wedding, you should hold back at the beginning as usually several courses will be served.
The different Chinese regional cuisines
Due to the size of China and its different climate zones that grow quite different spices and herbs, there are up to 500 local cuisines. Local people are always very proud of their regional cuisine and will make every effort to convince a foreigner of its excellence. Again, do not worry: you will hear of many extravagant or exotic dishes in China, many of which you can certainly get. However, most of the main ingredients are by no means unusual.
The Chinese regional cuisines are a result of the local climate and the influence of other cultures. Thus, the traditional ingredients in the Northeast with its climate so similar to Europe differ from other parts of China. The regional cuisines are difficult to divide clearly into strict categories because there are no fixed definitions. You will also find influences of other regional cuisines and Western national cuisines all over China: You are not bound to the taste of the region. One possible classification is the following:
- Dongbei cuisine:
This is the way of cooking of the Northeast of China, and it is also referred to as Beijing cuisine. The main ingredients are wheat, cabbage, leeks, lamb, and pork. Especially famous are the noodle dishes and dumplings as well as the world famous Beijing roasted duck, which is eaten rolled up within small pancakes. The dominant flavors of the Dongbei cuisine are compared to other regions salty and mildly spicy.
- Fujian cuisine:
This refers to the traditional food in the region around Shanghai and Hangzhou. Because of the long coastline and many large rivers, seafood plays an important role here. Great emphasis is put on a colorful presentation of the food. The typical regional flavors are sweet to sweet-sour.
- Canton Kitchen:
A contemporary Chinese joke goes like this: “People from Canton (Guangzhou) eat everything in the heavens, on earth and in the water – except aircrafts, tanks and submarines”. This is due to the fact, that probably no other regional cuisine of China uses as many ingredients, and you can try dishes here that you would normally not find in the rest of China. The dominant flavors: slightly spicy and slightly sweet
- Hunan-Sichuan-Yunnan cuisine:
This is the cuisine of China’s Southwest. The most famous regional dish is called hot pot, a kind of hot soup fondue, in which one cooks all sorts of ingredients. Accordingly, one can imagine that the locals here love it especially spicy. In this region vegetables are very common and the dishes tend to be very spicy.
- Other regional cuisines:
In addition to the main regional cuisines, there are many other ways of cooking, especially in the border or minority areas. However, they are typically not fundamentally different from the surrounding provinces. The most significant exceptions are the Tibetan, the Uighur, and the Mongolian cuisine. If you do not have opportunities to travel to their home regions, you will surely be able to find restaurants with appropriate dishes in all major cities.
Some general guidelines:
- Practice to eat with chopsticks before you depart to China. You will be praised for being able to use them properly for sure
- Put some food on your seat neighbors plate. This is considered to be very polite.
- Before you start to drink alcohol, cheers the first time with your friends. The best way is to say “Gan bei!” (Dry glass) and then to empty the whole glass.
- If you do not want to eat something, mention it to your friends before ordering.
- If you do not want to drink rice wine, say something before the first glass is poured. It is not rude if you prefer to drink beer instead, or if you want to drink no alcohol at all.
- Do not be shy! Chinese people are very open and if you can say something in Chinese, they will love you for it!
- If you want to pay, excuse yourself to the toilet and go to pay at the cashiers counter.
- In China coziness is the most important thing when it comes to eating! To sit upright or not to put your elbows on the table is not an aspect of everyday manners. The same is true for smacking or slurping – both are generally acceptable.
- Although the regional customs differ as to the exact seating arrangement, it is generally true that the guest of honor sits opposite to the door. It is considered polite to offer this seat to the oldest family member, your boss or to the guest of honor. Normally, however, one will let you sit there.
Chinese noodle food
China’s Economical Power
China’s economic growth has been unbroken for at least three decades. The world has been astonished that even during the global economic crisis in 2009, China’s economy grew by 9.21%, only slightly below the average annual growth of 10.25% over the past 10 years. Today, China is already the strongest export nation on earth.
Steady growth and reduction of national debt
Today, China, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of 9 trillion dollars (estimated value of 2013) is the second largest economy in the world. If its economy continues to grow with this rate,
The growing middle class and an important consumer market
The gap between rich and poor is great in China, but unlike many other industrialized nations, China has a growing middle class, which already includes more than 320 million people. With the increase of general prosperity, the importance of China as a consumer market also increases strongly. Already China is an important market for luxury items, No. 2 behind Japan. It is also is the largest market for mobile phones, and in 2009 it overtook the United States as the largest automobile market in the world, despite all the restrictions for vehicle registration. The importance of China as a consumer market reaches also the living rooms of the world: more and more Hollywood blockbusters include a China reference.
Growing international influence
Today already many Western traditional brands such as Volvo, Thomson or Putzmeister have been bought by Chinese corporations. Economic influence always also goes hand in hand with political influence. This fact has been clearly demonstrated first by the British Empire and later the United States. With its economic strength, China’s influence is growing worldwide. Today, China’s government holds bonds worth 1.27 trillion U.S. dollars, making it the most important funder of the United States. Hence, it comes with no surprise that the world kept silent when China in 2012 renewed its claim to the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands, or that today only 23 states maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan (neither the U.S. nor most European countries). Whether, as Martin Jacques titled his book, China will rule the world, remains questionable. One thing is clear however: It will play a crucial role in the world of tomorrow.
it will pass the United States as the largest economic power in the world before 2030. China is one of the few nations, which economy grows steadily while simultaneously reducing its national debt. The national debt in 2010 has been 33.54 % of the GDP and fell until the end of 2013 to only 21.3%. In comparison to other countries: The U.S. has a national debt of 112% of its GDP (2010: 99%) and Japan 245 % of its GDP (2010: 215 %). In addition China may have a national debt of around 3 trillion U.S. dollars, but at the same time holds dollar reserves in the amount of 3.2 billion U.S. dollars.
In China already just the fact of being a Westerner goes along with a high social status. It may sound a little bit ridiculous to mention that, but you will not have to worry about certain social problems like in many other countries. There are four main reasons: The Chinese admire the achievements of the West deeply. Generally, Chinese think that foreigners have a lot of money and are therefore quite open in their own interests. In addition, light skin, a high nose and deep eye sockets correspond with the contemporary Chinese beauty ideal – as in old Europe dark skin is associated with common field work. In addition, the Chinese are generally quite sociable and eager to show their country in the best light.
Strange to say, but this leads to the fact that a foreigner will often face less problems than a Chinese. You being a student at a prestigious university will face little problem to get to know people. In addition, your host family will show you a lot of respect.
Based on crime rates China is one of the safest countries in the world. According to the security consulting agency Control Risks, China is as safe as Europe.
This is certainly a result of the strict legislation in China: firearms, gambling, prostitution, and pornography are prohibited. In addition, many crimes are punishable by the death penalty, including, but not limited to murder, tax evasion, drug trafficking, or rape.
Additionally the collectivistic influenced Chinese society perceives deviations from the behavioral norm often as undesirable, an aspect not shared by Western cultures. This also reflects in the crime rate. The U.S. has a four times larger murder rate than China. The ratio of inmates to general population is six times higher in the U.S. Also the ratio of police force to general population is three times higher in the U.S.
If you follow the same rules of conduct regarding your safety like at home, you should expect nothing bad to happen.
Going to China and learning its language can open an endless number of doors. Why? It’s simple: A huge opportunity with little competition for Westerners.
This is clear observation: Mandarin has 982 million native speakers and 1.1 billion speakers in total, most of whom live in the People’s Republic of China (for example Cantonese). Coupled with the fact that China is the workshop of the world and the second largest economy in the world, it is clear that there is an enormous need for foreigners who can speak Mandarin Chinese. In comparison, the English language has 375 million native speakers with 1.5 billion speakers worldwide. Here the competition is so enormous due to the fact that it is learned at a young age in almost every country in the world. Even languages like German with 105 million native speakers and 185 million total speakers is no longer a competitive advantage.
Unemployment in the UK and Ireland
The unemployment rate in the EU is rising and the UK and Ireland are not spared. 2012 the unemployment rate in the UK has been around 8% and in Ireland even around 15%. As the manufacturing industries mostly have been outsourced abroad these countries are left behind with a vast service industry. However, the economical crisis starting in 2007 and reaching its peak in 2008/2009 clearly demonstrated that jobs based on those industries are high end and therefore strongly depending on the world economy. While during this time Europe entered a recession, China’s yearly economical growth just dropped to 9.21% in 2009. That clearly shows: Being able to work in China or a China-related industry is a form of job security of its own.
Strong international economic integration
Everybody knows that China is currently the world’s export champion. In 2012, China has exported around 2 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods to other countries. At the same time, China also imported about 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars worth of goods. China’s international economic integration is enormous. Someone that is able to understand the Chinese cultural sphere and can speak its language has a wide range of excellent opportunities now and in the future.
Take the opportunity now and invest in your future
There are many great reasons to visit China. One important aspect concerns our globalizing world which leads to the fact that being able to deal with different cultures becomes an invaluable personal skill.
But beyond that, there are of course many more tangible reasons. Above all, it will help to boost your future career. The demand for people being able to understand the Chinese culture and to speak Mandarin is growing. This is due to China’s steady economic growth. China is expected to become the largest economy and the most important market worldwide in less than 15 years.
Also privately China has a lot to offer, especially to a Westerner as people from the industrialized countries are highly respected and well appreciated. China’s cities are modern metropolises with multiple city centers that offer an incredible range of opportunities and after work activities. In addition, China’s world famous cuisine offers countless dishes and one dish may have up to 500 variations. China is not without reason the third most popular tourist destination in the world.