Internships and Cultural Exploration in Qingdao, China

So I was walking around the mall by my apartment one day when I guy came up to me and tried to sell me a pink iPhone 6s. He was very keen on making me believe that I should buy this iPhone, and so he told me it’d be 3000rmb. I haggled him down to 1000rmb and bought the stupid thing. I later tried to sell it to my friend, who found out that it was a fake.

Working with Interntrip was kind of like that. They offer you a seemingly great package, but the results aren’t what you expected. Sure, the software seemed legit, but until you examined what was underneath the software, you’d realize that someone made it that way just to pass it off enough to sell it to some stupid foreigner who didn’t know any better.

Seriously though, there are better ways of staying in China. You don’t need an agency. They will flat out rip you off or make you wish they did.

Take for instance their language program. The package was about $2000, and for that they claimed they’d get you the best course in the world. Nope. Not even close. They gave me two options in the beginning: use their personal teacher for one-on-one or attend the local university, which would ultimately consume all of my time, leaving little time for my internship. I chose to do the one-on-one.

That poor teacher. She could hardly speak English and more importantly, it was her first time teaching. It was clear that the agency cut corners for this teacher. After Spring Festival, that teacher left. The agency needed to find a new one for me, but it took about a month to find one. The teacher that they found hadn’t taught before and could speak even less English.

Needless to say, I was livid. I cancelled classes and immediately signed up with a local school. Interntrip found out and began to tell me that I broke the contract. After speaking through a translator, I was able to convince the boss that they had broke the contract in the first place, rendering me freedom to choose my own school. I also got them to pay for 3 months of classes.

It became clear after that that the agency was only about “face,” a Chinese social concept, and not about much else. They only appeared on the surface to be competent, when really they were cutting every corner to make some kuai off some laowai.

The apartment’s a total lie. Aside from living with 6 other Chinese people, I was forced to live in the messes of previous tenants. There was no evidence of any type of cleaning that had been done since the apartment was built, I reasoned. Fruit flies were everywhere, the floor in the kitchen and common room was sticky from all the oil used in the cooking process, and the bathroom looked like it had never seen a sponge in its life. The website boasts about how clean they are, and how great of a time you’ll have in them, but I found it to be quite the opposite. In the winter, there was no heat, forcing me to shiver in pain throughout the cold Qingdao nights. Then summer rolled around and there was no a/c in the building and I couldn’t sleep because I would get too hot.

If this experience did teach me anything, it’s that there are legitimate businesses in China. Interntrip and agencies like it aren’t. You have to search far and wide to find them, but there are good businesses out there. Otherwise, you’ll end up buying a fake pink iPhone and living in squaller paying money hand over fist to a company that clearly did nothing to receive that much money.

Don’t go to this internship agency. Don’t even use an internship agency. There are better ways of getting into China’s vast landscapes of opportunity. This is not one of them.

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