‘China is a big country. Inhabited by many Chinese’ – Charles De Gaulle.
China is a sovereign state in East Asia. It has a population of over 1.381 billion, it is the world’s most populous state. Since economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Beijing is the capital of China and is the world’s third most populous city. It is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai. It has been the political centre of the country for the past eight centuries.I moved to Beijing two weeks ago and have managed to achieve a lot in that short space of time. I found a flat with a stunning view -a perk I did not expect – opened a bank account, bought a SIM card, continued with visa processes and started my new job. I’ve met numerous and lovely people, all who have been very welcoming and sociable, and who have advised me that settling into China takes time. It is certainly a culture shock however the transition into a new country – though challenging – has not been as hard as I anticipated. I believe it helps that not only have a travelled reasonably extensively therefore am accustomed to settling into New country or city quickly but also have recently come from Thailand. Whilst both countries are certainly their own, they do have similarities.On the other hand, I am unused to staying somewhere new for a prolonged period of time and China’s major internet restrictions have not made this easier. I did not realise how dependent I am on Facebook, YouTube and Google access. I am certainly the definition of a first world citizen. Changing from ‘backpacker’ to ‘expat’ has been a difficulty I did not anticipate and whilst I welcome the change, I still feel split between China, Thailand – where my boyfriend currently is – and Britain that holds my family and friends. Only time will allow this adjustment and I already look forward to the moment I am comfortable to call Beijing my home.My favourite thing about being in a new country is completely immerse myself in the culture an with locals. My flat is in the middle of downtown Beijing, surrounded by noodle bars and market stands. However the most Chinese thing about Beijing is the people. Beijing is becoming more and more international and whilst I live in local culture dominated area, I am also just 10 minutes from cute Italian restaurants, European burger bars and the international Apple community – blocks of flats particularly catered for foreigners. And the English language is, of course, hugely dominant here. Only further supported by the fact that I am teaching 3-5 year olds how to speak it. Whilst some of them have little to no understanding, the majority I can hold a basic conversation with. It never ceases to amaze me how international English is.
So Beijing, I look forward to the next 10 months of teaching and travelling!