Beijing – Week 1

Oh my god! What a whirlwind. Moving to Beijing has knocked me for six. There I was thinking I’m a dab hand at travelling. Well apparently not! In fact, I have so much to express I immediately had to write this post – and I’ve only been here for three days!

These are the things that have turned my world upside down:

1. Smog
2. Bare apartment
3. Lonely
4. Jet lag
5. Where am I?

1. Smog
As I stepped out the airport I noticed it was raining. Then, upon closer inspection I noticed it wasn’t rain but smog! It just so happened that the particles in the air were so big they looked like rain drops! I’ve since discovered I need an air purifier for my apartment and a mask for going outside.

2. Bare apartment
I didn’t for a second consider the possibility that my apartment would be useless. Granted, I have furniture but I have absolutely nothing else. No doormat, cutlery, pots, pans, kettle, microwave, oven, plates, bowls, cups, tea clothes, hand towels, bedding, or even a toilet brush! I’m in need of so many items I’m considering setting up a Gofundme page.

And there I was thinking there would be a plethora of items left by previous foreign teachers. How wrong I was. Had I of known about the lack of stuff I would have made more use of my generous baggage allowance – the best I’ve ever had – which was 2 suitcases weighing up to 23kg each. I like being minimalist, but not even having a spoon, is a step too far.

Further, I had the pleasant task of cleaning a mouldy freezer and a mouldy water dispenser.

3. Lonely
Until last night I had only met one person and that person was busy, so I didn’t get much in terms of an induction to things. Luckily though, last night I met two foreign teachers and that made me feel a lot better. I was grateful for the knowledge they imparted and realised the importance of inductions.

My sense of loneliness was also exacerbated by the worry of how to meet people and make new friends. There are 40,000 students at my university – but how will I meet them? With 400 international students on my campus – how will I stand out*? I don’t live on the campus where I teach – how will I hang out with my students? These are concerns I don’t usually have. Usually, there are other newbies around who I can talk too and make friends with, and usually Chinese students are keen to hang out with me because there aren’t many other foreigners about. I know eventually I will make friends, but how long do I have to wait?

4. Jet lag
I’ve never had notable jet lag before. Currently, despite the fact I feel tired I can’t get much sleep. I go to bed around 12am/1am and wake up at 3.30am/4.30am. This could be due to nerves about teaching courses I’ve never taught before, to students I’ve never met before, at a university I’ve never worked at before. It could also be because I’m sleeping on a sofa as I have no bedding for my bed. It could also be because during my journey from London to Beijing I didn’t sleep for 24 hours. Who knows – but I look forward to a solid eight hours sleep sometime soon.

5. Where am I?
For the first two days I had no idea where I was, other than that I was in Beijing. Beijing is home to 20 million people and is ten times the size of London. I didn’t know if I was North, South, East, West, central or far out. I have since been informed I’m in North East Beijing, next to the fourth ring road, in a district filled with universities. But now I know where I am I need to know where other things are. This is proving tricky as an English map of Beijing is hard to come by when Google maps is not an option.

Obviously, I will survive and there’s no doubt in my mind that I will have a great year in Beijing, but this is not what I envisaged and adapting hasn’t been as easy as I’m used to. #LifeIsNotFair #BigBaby.

The five experiences I listed above have been quite a shock to my system. I don’t mind, but it just means I have my work cut out for me before I start teaching on 18th September. Wish me luck!

* At the last university I worked at there were only eight foreign teachers and less than twenty foreign students so standing out was easy-peasy!

Published by Lettice

Lettice is an avid traveller, volunteer and writer. Follow her blogs for tips on where to go, what to do, and how to get there.

9 thoughts on “Beijing – Week 1

    1. Thank you Mahesh and Rosanne :D. I hope you had a nice time in China. I saw photos of you meeting two students in Shanghai. How brilliant! Those students are very nice.

      I hope to follow Aimee’s adventure in Spain. Hopefully she will blog about it or post on Facebook.


  1. Beijing was a real shock when I visited it and even worse for Lucy my sister who had come there straight from home and didn’t have the experience of 10 months behind her like us.
    I’m sure you’ll adapt quickly to your new situation but it’s hard to start with. Good luck

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stephen! How are you? I hope you are well. Thanks for still reading my blog :D. Did you blog about your travel this summer? If so, I’d like to read it.

      So, it’s not just me that got a shock.I thought living in Beijing wouldn’t be much different – just busier.


      1. Hey, Lettice. I haven’t blogged in a while – not much to say. I hope things have settled a little bit in Beijing. I hope classes are going well.


  2. Take care and good luck. I’m sure you will find your way around and make new friends. Hope you will have some less smoggy days, when you can go out to do some sightseeing


      1. Thanks Jiawei. It’s nice to hear from you 🙂 I hope you’re well. Things have started to pick up here. I’m really pleased now. I think it was just a bit of a shock at first. How’s London and your hiking group?


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