Frequently Asked Questions
List of Questions
- Is this just an opportunity to explore China? How will my work experience compare with what I could be doing in Portland?
- I'm in the transportation specialization (or others). Can I focus on projects in this area during my internship in China?
- Two months is a long time to be away from home. Can I take my partner with me?
- What is it like living in China?
- What is my involvement with the program after I return from my internship?
More questions and answers will be posted as they arise.
Is this just an opportunity to explore China? How will my work experience compare with what I could be doing in Portland?
Internships with the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning & Design (CAUPD) are hard but enriching work. All internships are full-time positions working in a fast-paced environment with planning professionals. While internships in the Portland area can vary widely, relatively few local interns will have the opportunities to be involved in large-scale projects equivalent to those in China. Why?
CAUPD is a relatively small organization that has its choice of the best projects from across the country. With 1.3 billion people in a country that will add 300 million people to its cities within the next 20 years, there is a great need for planners in China and more projects than can be completed. CAUPD recognizes the quality of training MURPs receive and often places them on some of its most exciting projects.
Like internships in Portland, internships in China are what you make of them. The speed at which Chinese planners work means that your experience is limited only by the initiative you show. Throw yourself into your work and you can work as an equal alongside experienced Chinese planners, attending meetings with government agencies, and making site visits to collect data.
It's also important to remember that summer internships in Portland and China are highly competitive. In Portland you may be competing with students from multiple cohorts, recent graduates, and Portland area planners with considerable work experience. For the China program, only current MURPs can apply.
I'm in the transportation specialization (or others). Can I focus on projects in this area during my internship in China?
We understand that MURPs are very serious about their careers and want to make sure each internship moves them forward along their chosen path. This year we are working to place qualified interns into specific departments in specific cities. If possible, we will ask for interns to be placed with managers that have received excellent reviews by past MURP interns.
Many interns in the past have met their partners in China after the internship to travel throughout Asia, which we highly recommend. Otherwise, our hosting agencies are unable to support an additional guest and recommend that a partner meets you after the internship to travel.
Chinese cities are all very different, so your experiences can vary widely. In many cities, CAUPD will house interns in hotel rooms while in others you will have an apartment. Public transportation in China is very good, in general, so getting around is not difficult. Interns should be prepared to go without Western food for most of their stay. While Western restaurants are available in all cities, they are often expensive and in tourist areas far from CAUPD offices. Western toilets are common in hotels and many apartments, but squat toilets are routinely all that is available in the workplace environment.
The Chinese people are incredibly warm and welcoming, and often are very happy to have foreigners visiting their city. Chinese cities are very crowded, with much less private space, and many Chinese still live in cramped housing without temperature controls. As a result, Chinese people tend to spend more time socializing in public spaces. Because the Chinese work long hours, and often work weekends, night time is often the only opportunity they have to run errands or enjoy leisure time. It is common to take evening walks, enjoy karaoke, bars, street food, and other nightlife all week long. The phrenetic daytime work activity and equally lively night time leisure activities make large Chinese cities exciting places.
The internship experience is only the start of your involvement with the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program. The knowledge and experiences you gain in China are invaluable, sharing them with your colleagues and fellow students in the MURP program is an important part of the program. During your stay in China, you will document your experiences in a blog. This blog has been very popular in the past and received mention in Willamette Week in 2011. Upon returning, interns give presentations on their experiences and write a final report.
In addition to these responsibilities, there are a number of opportunities to be involved with the program in other ways. Often, one intern will be selected for a graduate research assistant position, and coordinate activities for the following summer's intern cohort as well as the China Seminar. All interns are invited to attend public and closed session China Seminars as well as other activities related to the PSU-China program throughout the year. Interns have given talks at the CityWise series, presented photographs in an exhibit, and worked with academic and professional contacts in China to facilitate research projects.