Win a Yearly FluentU Plan (value 180 USD) Here at SDC!

Ni hao!

Yesterday we published a review of FluentU, a database of YouTube videos in Mandarin with subtitles (and much more).

If you’re studying Chinese, you shall check it!

Anyway, today I’m writing to you because the FluentU’s team decided to give away one of their yearly plan (180 USD of value) to one lucky reader of SDC.

In order to enter the contest, just click here and follow the instructions.

The contest will close on Friday 5 June at 11 PM, Lodon time. We’ll award the prize on Monday 8 June (we’ll contact the winner by email).



FluentU: The best way to learn Chinese through videos

Fluentu learn chinese with videos

In this article, I am going to review FluentU, a database of YouTube videos in Mandarin with subtitles (and much more).


Because I think videos are the best way to achieve “immersion” while studying a foreign language. Admittedly, talking with native people on a regular basis is even better; however, it’s not always possible and, at least when you are starting out, it’s extremely difficult.

What is immersion? And why is it so important?

You can’t learn a new language by just “studying.” In the end, mastering a language comes down to being able to communicate effectively with native speakers. The language you can learn through books is usually quite different from the spoken language, and with Chinese, the gap is even larger than with English or French, for example.

During the time I spent in China, I met many people who, after studying Chinese in their country for several years, came to China and became completely frustrated. Why? Because Chinese people were unable to understand them and, even worse, they couldn’t understand what Chinese people were saying. Even if they had good grammar and vocabulary basics, they had never been in contact with the “real” language. [Read more…]

How to find a job as an English Teacher in China

Teaching in ChinaTeaching kids in China

This is a complete guide to finding a job as an English teacher in China. It’s around 10,000 words, so take your time to read it. You can also click on one of the links below to jump directly to the sections that most interest you. Here you’ll find:

[Read more…]

The exchange of gifts in Chinese business practices


The ancient Chinese proverb “礼尚往来” (lǐ shàng wǎng lái, “courtesy requires reciprocation”) highlights one of the most curious and talked about aspects of Chinese business etiquette. The first character “礼” (lĭ, “courtesy”) expresses a sense of ceremonial observance for the Chinese, while the word “礼物” (lǐwù, “things of courtesy”) is translated as “gift”.

The exchange of gifts has a very important role in business relationships in China. Various online sources, books and manuals recount the value of tradition, explain how to behave and underscore that official politics prohibit the practice (which is considered corruption). In effect, the penal code of the People’s Republic of China (in the art. 164) clearly states: “Whoever gives money or something else to an agent of an organization, firm or other entity to obtain undue advantage, is punished…”. It is here however that doubts are raised.

How can you give a gift? What distinguishes it from simple corruption? And above all why is it so important in Chinese business relationships? To respond to these questions, we have to take a few steps back. [Read more…]

How to book an hotel (or hostel) in China

hotels china

The purpose of this guide is to show you how and where to book a hotel (or hostel) in China.

Before we start

Before going on, you need to be aware of these two points:

Chinese hotels must register all of their customers with the police station. So, you will always have to show your passport when you arrive at the hotel.

Not all hotels in China have a license to lodge foreigners. Because of this, I recommend that you make a reservation in advance and avoid having to try several hotels before you find one that you can stay at.

Click here to read our guide on the best hotels in Beijing

Click here to find out the best cheap hotels in Hong Kong: Causeway Bay and Chung King Mansion

[Read more…]

[Contest is Close] Win a Yearly VyprVPN Plan (value 119.99 USD) Here at SDC!

Ni hao!

Last month we gave away 3 VPNs: the winners were Jonathan from South Africa, Monica from Italy and Maria from Spain. Today we are back with a new contest.

VyprVPN Premier, one of the VPNs we recommend, got in touch with us to see if we were keen on giving away a yearly plan of their service (value: 119.99 USD) to one of our readers.

They get you guys to know them and you may get a year of VPN for free!

In order to enter the contest, just click here and follow the instructions.

p.s. If you already subscribed to an VyprVPN plan, no worries. The free year will start only with your current plan will expire!

p.p.s. If you’re traveling to China soon and you don’t know what a VPN is, check this. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting…



What’s it like to work for a Chinese boss?

work for a chinese boss

Have you ever been at a point in your job/career when you thought, “I wish I could reinvent myself,” or “restart my career on a different path”? What if I told you I knew of a place where a construction worker became a director of marketing, a sales manager became a journalist, a real estate opportunist started a school, a student became a university economics teacher, and a graphic designer became a CEO (if only for one night).

Such are the opportunities of an emerging market like the big cities of China. But, before you quit your job and throw yourself a going away party, just remember the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

If you have read a newspaper sometime in the past ten years, you may have heard China is quickly becoming the financial center of the world. Obviously, opening a market of this size creates many opportunities. And although we are talking about a 5,000 year-old culture, China only “re-opened” its doors to the business world a mere 35 years ago. This creates an interesting relationship between a very proud nationalist people and what they literally refer to as “outsiders”, or the rest of us non-Chinese folks. [Read more…]

If You Want to Name a Building, Check First With Beijing

building names in beijing

If You Want to Name a Building, Check First With Beijing

China is known for a lot of great things. The Great Wall. Great take-out. And great deals on cheaply manufactured goods. But it is a little-known and rarely heralded fact that is my favorite of all Chinese contributions to our world heritage.

Their buildings have the coolest names.

While most Western buildings are named after architects, politicians – or even worse – corporations, ancient edifices in China retain majestic sounding monikers like Earth Tranquility Palace or Hall of Supreme Harmony. Even the Flatiron Building would have to admit that their names are way cooler than ours.

Granted, most people aren’t going to visit someplace just because it has a cool name. It would also have to have sites worthy of making a voyage halfway around the world. So of all the places that there are to see in China, the spot that gives you both some from Column A and some from Column B (you had to expect there was going to be a Chinese menu crack in here somewhere) is the capital Beijing.  [Read more…]

Travel to Inner Mongolia: The Complete Guide

Rows of yurts in Xilamuren grasslandsRows of yurts in Xilamuren grasslands

In this guide to travel in Inner Mongolia you will find:

As Inner Mongolia is very big, this guide aims to introduce you to some of the region’s key sights and attractions to help you best plan your trip. If you would like more details about a particular place, please comment below.

For more general information about traveling in China such as visas, vaccinations, flights, food etc. be sure to check out this epic 4,000 word complete guide to traveling in China. Just skip to the sections you are most interested in!
[Read more…]

The habits I picked up in China

habits-chinaPretending to dance Gangan Style at any type of party… China has also given me this

Why I had the desire to write this article just today,almost a year and a half since I left China, is easy to say: up until last month I’ve lived in small cities and towns.

The social dynamics were therefore quite different than those of Beijing, Hangzhou or Shanghai, where I spent four years that I would define as… intense.

Last month, however, I moved to London, where the only thing small is the Euro/Sterling exchange. Consequently, the habits large and small have returned that subconsciously bring me back to the land of Chun-Li, the latent sexual fantasy of my generation, grown from Lemonissimo and Street Fighter.

Here are a few:

Using passersby as human shields when crossing the street

This habit goes back to 2008, or my first trip to Beijing, when the avenues of Dongzhimen were harbingers of second thoughts and paralyzing doubts. And so I resolved the problem crossing only when well protected by a crew of travellers.

In London this habit is very useful considering the cars ride on the left!

Cutting in front of people without mercy on the Metro… excuse me, The Tube

Despite being Italian – we are certainly not famous for respecting lines, – in this aspect I was always well-behaved. That is until I landed in China, where if you don’t slalom between those dragging seven tons of potatoes behind them and those on autopilot, hypnotized by what’s happening on their cell phones you’ll never get on the subway. It’s worth mentioning that in London the shoving is less violent and someone might actually say “I’m sorry”.

Among other things, thinking about traffic and lines made me recall this mythic video: [Read more…]