Friday, December 16, 2011

One year in China

     As I sit in my apartment with time to kill this weekend I am feeling very nostalgic. I have just finished my final term paper and I am now done with my second term! I am 3 classes closer to having a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Last weekend I did the majority of my Christmas shopping with just a few random purchases left for tomorrow. I got adorable little Chinese outfits for my friends kids, pearl necklaces for my friends and family, and a bunch of other cute stuff. My friend Lana helped me out and haggled the vendors down to great prices. I managed to wrap up a few projects at work, so all in all in has been a good week. In 3 days, 16 hours and 14 minutes I will be on the plane on my way back home! So with that in mind I wanted to do a belated post about my first year living in Beijing.
     Last November, our plane landed in the Beijing (Peking) Airport. The day before that we had a wonderful party with our closest friends and family. They gave us a proper send off and we got the chance to say goodbye just 12 hours before we left for Beijing. We all got very drunk and had a wonderful time.
Hubs and all his buddies
Hubs and his mama
Both drunk playing with baby Emily
Drunk hubs imparting knowledge
     Just our luck, we arrived on a day with Hazardous air quality and especially in North West Beijing, it smelt of burning tires. As I learned, the effects that smell has on your stomach and brain function lessens over time but since then we have purchased masks and that helps so much. In the winter they have the added benefit of keeping my face warm and moist, because it is both FREEZING and DRY in Beijing during the winter.  We stayed in a beautiful Marriot our first night and then moved into our temporary 2 week apartment. Thank the Lord above we were only there for 2 weeks because the apartment was not at all what was advertised to us. It was right by the subway so it was loud, but also convenient. The main problem was the one sheet they offered in late November for warmth. That one sheet and the entire apartment was covered in dust. Not the dust you are used to but a dust that is made of pollution, concrete dust plus regular dust. It feels like cuddling up with a million red fire ants...yeah not all. So Will went out and bought cleaning supplies at 2 am and we scrubbed the place down. Couldn't kill all of the roaches (yeah) but we killed as many as humanly possible.
Outside of the 2 week apartment
The reason we're paid in China
It was FREEZING that day
First meal in China
     We saw about 10,000 apartments in those two weeks. Outside of one particular apartment I was so depressed at the idea of having to live their that I had to excuse myself and go cry in the I am not joking. It was a 15 minute walk down skid row to the subway that was still in the middle of the middle of "no I don't speak English you stupid laowei" Land. We ended up moving to a complex called Peace Avenue because compared with everything else we had seen to that point it was heavenly. It wasn't dirty inside...comparatively and it had a decent set up.
Our stop 
Peace Avenue
The exercise yard
Kind of defeats the purpose but to each his own
     Within a few weeks, we met some new friends and went to a Finnish Christmas party. We saw what apartments could be like in Beijing. Now, comparatively, our new place looked as bad as the old place had. About now this is sounding like keeping up with the Joneses, but consider this...the ceiling was falling down in 3 places...true we were on the 23rd floor, but there were still 7 floors above us. Our bathroom sink was building onto the top of a cabinet, that was so water logged it was collapsing. Our toilet and shower room were on in the same with a door that left a 2 inch gap making it the coldest most drafty shower of your life. We signed a year lease and were out in 3 months. It was worth it considering where we were moving.
Our first freeze
Spring Festival
Our first snow
     That Christmas party was so much fun and the turning point for us. Until then we hadn't met many people and had been pretty isolated. In a very Chinese area where we spoke very little Chinese and they spoke no English, it was easier to just stay inside. At the party we ate and drank and made a lot of new friends. 
Will and Timo
Me and Lana
     Anyway, about 1.5 after the party, we moved into the same neighborhood. Upper East Side aka Yang Guang Shang Dong in Lido. We absolutely love this complex and hope to stay in this apartment for the rest of our time in Beijing. We did a lot of work on the place and it is now a place that reflects our style and makes us feel right at home. 

     Tomorrow I will finish our trip down memory lane, but until then...some more photos. First, a classic in Beijing photography...the smog before and after
Skiing trip after Christmas 2010
This shot is great...don't you love how I am skiing on "snow" but the hill next door has no is great
My studly man


  1. Congrats! I think surviving the first year abroad is definitely the hardest!

  2. Do you have an email address? I'm living in Atlanta and wanted to chat with you about some questions... my blog is email Thanks!