Sunday, January 23, 2011


     Well, we've been in Beijing for almost 2 months now. It already feels like we've been here for so much longer. I've already made more friends here than I made in a year living in Atlanta. I have one major thing in common with every girl I've become friends with and that is that they all moved to Beijing for their husband's career. That takes a certain kind of wife and a certain kind of marriage so we all get along great.
                                                                  Beijing Subway
     I see some very interesting behavior on a regular basis here. Some of it is getting easier to ignore, while some of it still makes me stop and stare. The spitting is gross, but you get used to it. Mostly older men, but older women and everyone else will suprise you with their spitting. They will cough up some nasty spit and just spit it whereever. Trash cans are a nice suprise...and I see that occasionally, but not as much as I see it all over the sidewalk and sometimes even inside. One thing I have not yet gotten used to is the children's public peeing etc...they have these special pants here that are cut from one end of the undercarriage to the next, so that if nature of any form calls, you can just squat down. Peeing on the sidewalk is not at all uncommon to see here, but peeing on the subway, in the supermarket and in the trash can is still stare worthy. I'm sure that sounds better than alternatives...but there is a bathroom not 100 feet from the trashcan and someone is going to get a nasty suprise when they have to take that trash bag out.

     Behavior on the subway takes some getting used to as well. Not only are the subway station and trains sometimes very crowded, but people will mow you down to stand in the front of the line to get on the subway...even if its not rush hour and the subway is completely empty. One thing I find impressive, is the fact that (to my American eyes) I see a rush hour subway train that is completely full, but they manage to shove themselves in and get 4-5 more people into literally no space.

     Food is hard for me here. Well to be fair, food is hard for me everywhere, but it is especially hard for me here. I am allergic to gluten and less severly to milk. I need to eat...but for the first few weeks here, I either went with something I knew might make me sick, or I ate oranges and bananas. I have eaten a life time supply of oranges and peanut butter covered bananas since we arrived here. There is no Whole Foods here with gluten free bread and goodies and food at the Western markets is easily twice as expensive as regular Chinese markets. I found one place with gluten free bread already made...and it was disgusting. My husband agrees...and he is much harder to disgust. It was hard as a rock and once you broke it, it crumbled to pieces...and then you ate it...and it tasted like week old rotten cheese with yeast in it. Not pleasant. Ovens are not common in housing here, so I think I am going to buy a bread maker and try to make it myself. Thankfully I have found stores here that carry other gluten free things. One place has cereal, several have Silk soy milk, all western stores seem to have gluten free bread I can make it. Some things I will just have to make by myself...and I am not much of a cook. Not great at it, and I don't really care for complicated recipes. But I'll keep you updated.

      Look for housing here is a semi nightmare. Real estate sites are hard to navigate if you don't speak Mandarin and many of the English pages are limited or have broken links. People post on Thebeijinger and City Weekend, but the pictures are horrible most times and/or were taken when the place was built...5 years ago. Places don't stay nice that long. Migrant workers building highrises sounds great...but unskilled workers do not tend to build things that withstand the test of time. We finally found an apartment, but its not someplace we want to stay for all three we may let our deposit go and move sooner rather than in 9 months. Turns out that the commute to my husband's office isn't that great. Only thing now is that we want to be super close to the subway, in a nice area, in a nice building and close to his work. Wish us luck...we will need it.

     Cab drivers can make or break your day here, says a friend of mine. The subway is cheaper, but cabs are better with a lot of groceries in hand. They do not speak English (none of them) and most can't read a map...makes for interesting trips. We know how to say our street, “subway”, right, left and we do ok, but we both are excited for the time when we can speak and understand Mandarin. Today was the first trip where I felt like I understood 50% of what the driver said. He asked us what country we were from and which part of america. After that we didn't talk much.

     I plan to start language learning on the 10th of January. 40 hours in a month, ten a week, 2 hours a day on the week days. I am hoping that I can start to feel more comfortable soon. Again...wish me luck.

Taken from our apartment 

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