Gap Year in China

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If you're looking to see modern works of breath-taking human achievement and ancient landmarks like the Great Wall, then China is the perfect country for you to spend your gap year. China's cities are booming. New Chinese art and fashion are changing the world culture and the world economy hinges on China's industrial strength. This is a turning point in human history; so don't miss a beat. Visit China and witness one of the major world powers from the inside!

  • Capital City: Beijing
  • Population: 1,343,239,923
  • Popular Destinations: Great Wall of China, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing
  • Currency: Renminbi
Volunteering:

Volunteering in China is exciting and inspiring, you'll develop memories that will stay with you forever. Many Volunteer programs take you to the heart of the under-served rural villages such as Xi'an. Here you can get involved with agricultural work or rebuilding damaged infrastructure. Volunteers in China can also work against the unsafe and overcrowded living conditions in the cities, as well as overall unemployment. In China, volunteers can choose from a wide variety of options, from care giving to healthcare to teaching English. The programs are often inexpensive. The length of each program will vary, but is flexible, making a gap year in China a great opportunity to learn hands on skills without being tied to one program for the full year.

Adventure Travel:

Visit the ancient Silk Road. With a history of over 2,000 years, the old Silk Road started from Xian in the east and extended all the way to Rome in the west. Eventually the silk road connected to the east bank of the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Europe. With a length of over 2,485 miles the Silk Road is largely responsible for the development of technological and philosophical advancements throughout Asia and Europe.

Blue Moon Valley in Lijiang, China
Blue Moon Valley in Lijiang, China

For nature enthusiasts, Lijiang is well noted for its natural scenery, fresh air and green vegetation. Lijiang is situated by the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Here you can experience classical Naxi music, often referred to as the "living musical fossil" due to its long history and focus on connecting to the beautiful natural scenery.

For even more natural beauty and philosophical musing, visit "the Roof of the World", a common term used to describe Tibet. Tibet is an exciting place for climbers and adventurers. It's also home to Tibetan Buddhism, where the Dalai Lama meditates and teaches, advocating for a more peaceful world.

Internships:

The whole world is knocking on China's door - and it's not hard to see why. Steeped in fascinating history, and yet racing into the future at supersonic speeds, China is truly driving today's global economy and reshaping international business. This makes China the perfect destination for students, graduates, and young professionals eager to gain internship experience and display their boldness, adaptability, and global mindset to future employers. Interning in China is an excellent way to build your resume while witnessing the world's fastest growing economy at a pivotal point in world history.

The best place to find internships is in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The countryside is not without it's share of environmental and scientific internships, but since China is the leading manufacturer of consumer products, the large cities are the places to be for the businesses minded. Interning in China gives you the unique opportunity to explore this economically soaring nation, while becoming completely immersed in Chinese culture and history. The skills you will gain during your internship will certainly give you an edge in the job market. Companies across the globe are excited to do business in China.

Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
Cost of Living in China:

Prices in China are rising, but the cost of living is still very cheap. You will have ready access to many of the comforts you enjoy at home and so much more on a reasonable budget. Those taking a gap year to teach or work abroad in China are able to afford frequent weekend trips, regular restaurant meals, and perhaps hire a housekeeper! Even tailor-made clothes may cost as little as $5 USD.

Eating out is the best way to discover the variety of foods that China has to offer and is extremely cheap. A great meal may cost as low as $1 USD. Whether you're enjoying a meal with friends, working out at the fitness club, or getting a massage, you'll find that leisure activities are often very affordable in China.

Historic Lijiang Old Town
Historic Lijiang Old Town

China has excellent, yet inexpensive, public transport. Even the taxi rides are reasonably priced. Chinese people often commute by bicycle. However, this mode of transport is only for the bravest of foreigners as Chinese roads are notoriously dangerous.

Culture and Etiquette in China:

The concept of 'honor', is very important in China. Philosophies such and Confucianism and Buddhism promote behaviors and ethics that stress obligations to people based upon mutual respect relationship. The Chinese believe that maintaining harmonious relations as individuals causes society itself to become more stable. Tradition is important so always formally greet the eldest first. Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners. But unlike in the United States, many Chinese will look towards the ground when greeting someone. Being humble is greatly respected amongst all Chinese philosophies. However, this does not mean that the Chinese are without their charms. The Chinese have a terrific sense of humor and will readily laugh at themselves if they have a comfortable relationship with you. So never take yourself too serious (frankly this is good advice for everyone).

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year

When doing business in China, one should keep in mind that the Chinese don't like doing business with companies they don't know. Building a trusting bound is essential; so be humble, be patient, be formal, and refrain from dominating a conversation (no matter how excited you may be). Doing business with the Chinese may take a considerable amount of time and is often bound up with enormous bureaucracy. The Chinese see foreigners as representatives of their company rather than as individuals. Rank is extremely important in business relationships and you must keep rank differences in mind when communicating.

China is a land of ancient and modern beauty and is proud of its heritage. As a foreigner, make sure to learn about the history of China as to avoid any accidental insults or disrespect. Try to learn the language and show that you are taking part in the culture of the people. This is greatly appreciated.

Health and Safety in China:

China only requires that travelers receive vaccinations for Yellow Fever. However, it's still a good idea to make sure that your routine vaccinations are up to date. That includes Tetanus, Diphteria (DTaP), measles (MMR), polio, hepatitis B, Varicella and influenza. Unfortunately, Malaria is still an endemic in rural areas including Anhui, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hainan, and Yunnan. So Take precautions!

It's very important that you remember that the tap water in China is not safe to drink. Even in large cities like Beijing, the plumbing in the city is old and can result in bacterial contamination. You definitely do not want to spend the trip of a lifetime chugging down Pepto Bismal! Drink Bottled water and make sure to boil the water you cook with.

Night in Old Shanghai
Night in Old Shanghai

When traveling to the countryside, make sure you have a map with you at all times as the terrain can be quite harsh. The climate throughout China is extremely diverse from tropical in south, to deserts and subarctic tundra in the north. Dehydration and stomach ailments are often complaints of the adventurous traveler. So be prepared.

Why Take a Gap Year in China?

From the spectacular ancient landmarks of the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army at Xi'an, to the avant-garde art and fashion houses of Shanghai. China will not fail to mesmerize. If you are looking for unique snowy mountains, mysterious religions, and exotic customs, then don't hesitate to take a gap year in this historic country. China truly does have something for every traveler!


Photo Credit: Blue Moon Valley - Great Wall - Historic Lijiang - Chinese New Year - Old Shanghai

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