And just like that one year in China has gone by! It has been one heck of a year and I have made so many incredible memories. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world through this experience. It’s been really challenging living away from home and everything I love, but I’ve learned to love this new home. Since my anniversary of moving to China, I have been reflecting on this past year; the things I love about living here, the things I won’t miss, and where I see myself post-China.
What I love about living in Beijing, China
BEING A TEACHER
Especially in China because Chinese kids are just so much cuter! They have incredibly squishy cheeks and adorable waterfall ponytails that bounce on top of their heads. Even when they are turds I love them. Also, being a teacher is very rewarding. My kids entered my class at 3 or 4 years old not knowing a single word of English, and now they can speak in sentences!
CULTURE AND UNIQUENESS
Beijing has one of the world’s oldest cultures. It is the home to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, but you don’t have to go to these touristy spots to experience Chinese culture. You can see it all over, like the old mom and pop selling fruits out of their truck on the street corner, or grandmas dancing in the park to traditional music, or a whole family squeezing on one motor bike. Also tea is a big part of their culture, and although it isn’t Texas sweet tea it’s still delicious!
I personally prefer American Chinese food over China Chinese food, but the dumplings are a different story. Meat dumplings, veggie dumplings, cheese dumplings, pizza dumplings, fried dumplings, boiled dumplings, DUMPLINNNGGS!
Cheap, fast, easy to navigate, and always on time! It may get over crowded during rush hour times, but it beats sitting in traffic. I wish every city in the world could have a reliable subway system!
China runs on this APP called WeChat. It encompasses everything from texting, calling, Face-time, Facebook-like features, Group-Me features, Venmo features, and Apple pay features. Every store, taxi, person, shop, and bar accepts WeChat pay. In fact, they prefer it to cash or card.
Everything except rent and western food is STUPID cheap. A typical taxi ride is about $2-$6. Chinese food delivery is about $6. A subway ticket across the whole city is $1.25. An americano coffee is about $2.50. Monthly cell phone bill is $15. Western food runs at about $10 and $15 with a beer (still not too bad).
I’m obsessed with visiting new places, and since moving here I’ve been able to travel to 6 different countries in Asia and a couple cities within China. I can confirm that Asia is the new hot spot to visit!
Not the kind of freedom I receive in America, but the kind that allows me to be who I want to be and explore new interests and friendships. The kind of freedom that allows me to spend my weekends exploring new places and things.
What I won’t miss about living in Beijing, China
NO CLOTHES DRYING MACHINE
Okay, so maybe I’m a diva and a bit lazy, but this is crucial when I want to wash an outfit and wear it that day. I have to wait at least 2 days for things to dry on the rack. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
CAN’T DRINK THE TAP WATER
If I wake up hungover and there are no bottles of water around? Well, I’m SOL because I can’t drink the tap water.
This is basically a hole in the ground that they call a toilet. Some are really clean and some are really dirty. Good luck if you’re drunk and wearing heels.
Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world. It is a tonal language, so one word can be said in 4 different ways. Unfortunately for me, not many people speak English in Beijing and I struggle with communicating daily. However, I did have to learn some survival Chinese so that I can order food, take a taxi, ask for directions, and not die.
Old men (and some women) love to hack a good loogie out in these streets.
THE GREAT FIREWALL
I HATE the firewall. The firewall is a combination of legislative and technological actions that have been taken by the government of China to regulate and censor the internet. Basically, I can’t access any social media, Google, or YouTube, unless I use a Virtual Private Network to trick the internet into thinking I’m accessing my accounts from America or somewhere outside of China.
Smog is polluted air, and Beijing has a lot of it! It makes everything foggy, gray and ugly. Definitely not a fan. Plus I love my lungs the way they are.
Where I see myself post-China
Aside from all the quirky things I won’t miss about China, I love living abroad! I love that it is extremely different from home, and I love interacting with people who walk a different life than me. I also love getting to travel and explore new places. With that being said, I still have some time left in Beijing, and after I leave, I plan on returning to Houston for a bit and then finding a new home abroad. I am really looking forward to this next chapter post-China!