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The TTC 2010 winter program is underway and it’s been a busy few days in preparation for it.

Keep your eyes peeled as there will be regular blog postings! We’ll be putting up loads of interesting things such as Chinese idioms, Mandarin phrases/words, photos, videos, facts about China, information about Chinese cuisines and culture, tips to get around, things to see and do…. And much more!

What’s been happening?
Arrival (Saturday 30th Jan) – Many of the interns arrived today signaling the first TTC of 2010 getting underway. For us this meant greeting them at the airport and transporting them to the UIBE campus. It also involved collecting all 98 passports and getting them ready for visa applications; giving them their room keys and welcome packs – which include maps and phrasebooks so they can get straight to exploring Beijing. We’re giving them name tags so nobody has to go through the embarrassment of forgetting their roommate’s name!
For them it was starting to get to know the 98 people they’ll be spending the next month with, unpacking, getting familiar with the area and generally settling in.

An intern’s view – By David Boyle
I arrived in Beijing on time which was a relief and there were staff from ImmerQi waiting for us. Apparently, this was Coco’s second trip to the airport picking up interns. It was well organized and the staff is very friendly.
We arrived at UIBE University and checked in. That night was fairly non-descript considering I arrived at 10 in the evening but I still managed to meet a few of my fellow interns and get the introductions rolling. Everyone seemed to be in the same spirits as me, high hopes for what the future held but an apprehension for the myriads of unknowns that were hurtling their way towards me. All this, looking back now, was pretty much unnecessary but at the time you can’t help the butterflies.

The art of bargaining in China
There is a big part of daily life in China that you probably don’t experience much back in your home country. The art of bargaining. It is very normal to bargain for things in China and therefore it is a necessary skill to learn otherwise you will pay ridiculous amounts of money for things here.
You can bargain on almost anything in China. Whether it be food, clothes, services, electronics, accommodation, transport etc. Not everything is negotiable but you would be surprised what you can get a discount on.

Here are some tips to help you out when learning the art of bargaining: This is the way to bargain in China!

  • Don’t value things in your home currency. Otherwise it may seem like you are getting a great deal when you aren’t.
  • Most things are cheaper in China. Recognize the difference between genuine versus fake products. Fake should be a mere fraction of the cost.
  • Decide beforehand how much you are prepared to pay for it. If their final price is way above what you had in mind then look elsewhere for it.
  • Try to avoid stating how much you want to pay for something even when asked. You may start off too high and would end up settling for paying alot more than you should have. If they name their price keep asking them to lower theirs a few times instead.
  • If they give a ridiculous price just laugh and give a ridiculous offer in return. They may laugh back and say you are crazy but it will help ensure you negotiate a great price. The wrong way to go about is to get angry at them and cause them to “lose face.”
  • Walking away is very effective and a great gauge for whether they are prepared to lower their price or your price was unrealistic.
  • Touristy areas especially with shopkeepers who speak good English e.g. Silk Market will start with much higher prices.
  • You can get great bargains near closing time as vendors try to make a last sale for the day
  • Even if there is a price tag don’t take this as the final price. You may be able to bargain on it and it could be a way to get foreigners to pay a premium.
  • Bring small change or hide any large bills from view. It’s a great way to leverage a cheaper price by saying “This is all I’ve got.”
  • Don’t act too interested in whatever you are bargaining for otherwise you could spend a while getting the price you want.
  • If you are in a market, and see something you like do a bit of window shopping. A lot of stores sell identical things so you can walk around and compare prices trying to get it for as cheap as possible.
  • Always keep a smile. Shopkeepers may appear angry and say dramatic things to give you the impression that the price you want is not possible. Don’t believe them.
  • Say you are a student and therefore don’t make any money.
  • Finally, just see it as a bit of fun and you will get into the spirit of it!

For some useful phrases to use when bargaining look out for the next blog entry!

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