Reflecting On My First Month In China

I've been away from the US for a little while now and meant to create a blog where I could write about some of my experiences, but the creative juices just haven't been flowing lately. I guess I'm going to give this blogging thing a try now, so you can also consider this a resolution to write more in 2017...

I was initially nervous and sad to leave my friends and family behind on this adventure, but I came to terms with the fact that I would never be happy just continuing down the same path I was on. I knew the life I wanted wouldn't be possible without some sacrifices, which was especially difficult for me right before I left, since I felt I'd recently made some great new connections and grown closer to the ones I'd had for a while already. That being said, Portland had become a comfortable place for me... in a bad way. I was too content with my routine, my work, my vices, and an overall lack of change I'd been familiar with for several years.

So, about a month ago, I quit my customer service job in preparation for a whole new experience across the world, although I had ultimately made the decision several months prior. I chose to move to China and become an English language teacher, both of which were very foreign to me at the time. 

Having never been to Asia, all I knew about China were contrasting stories from American news sources, which don't always show China in a positive light, or second/third-hand accounts of people who had visited and (typically) really enjoyed the experience. Now that I've lived here in Beijing for a little over three weeks, I can honestly say I really enjoy this place. Even in my brief time here already, I've come to appreciate so many random things that I've discovered here.

Some things I really enjoy about Beijing are:

  •     The variety of Chinese food
  •     How inexpensive everything is
  •     History can be found all over the city
  •     Paying at (basically) any store/restaurant with your phone
  •     Convenience stores are everywhere and always open
  •     Learning the Chinese language
  •     How happy Chinese people are to attempt English
  •     The subway system and public transit around the city
 
 Visiting the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, with some good friends I've made.

Visiting the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, with some good friends I've made.

 

Perhaps more importantly than all of that, I've made some really great friends since I've been here. When you're thrown into new and awkward cultural situations with others, it's amazing how quickly you form bonds with those people. When I first got to Beijing, a day felt like an eternity. Maybe it was just the jet lag, but activities I did the prior day seemed like they were distant memories and the friendships I made kept me grounded in some semblance of reality during those weird times.

Speaking of weird times, there are some things that haven't been so great here as well:

  •     Pollution, and wearing an air filtering mask
  •     Needing to seek clean, bottled water
  •     A constant lack of toilet paper
  •     Bing (seriously, Bing is the worst search engine ever)
  •     Using a VPN to enjoy the web services I like
  •     Lots of paperwork to avoid deportation
 
 A very polluted view outside of my apartment in Beijing.

A very polluted view outside of my apartment in Beijing.

 

The good news is that some of the items in that list have taught me about my own perspectives, what my culture has taught me to "expect", and what I miss about the US.

Anyhow, that's all I have to share for now. To all my friends and family back home, I'm sending my love vibes through the Internet right now. Hopefully my updates will be more frequent in the future