One Month

August 22, 2012

It has almost been one month since I left Kansas City to move to China.  Some days it seems like time is flying, and other days it feels like ages since I’ve been home!  Settling in has not been too hard, since a lot of teachers live in the same apartment complex.  We are spread out in groups in the area around our school, in different apartment complexes.  It has been fun to work with such a diverse group of people…from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, South Africa, Kenya, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, etc.  Some of us have moved abroad for the first time, and others have worked and lived in other countries.  I’m learning so much about the English language from my colleagues…unfortunately, I haven’t even begun to learn Chinese!  I’ve found an app for my iPhone called Pleco, which is a Chinese-English dictionary.  I used it the other day to find an item in the grocery store :).  Hopefully I can take some Chinese lessons soon!  I live in the Chaoyang district, which is more “Western” and I can find stores like Starbucks and KFC everywhere.  However, the other day I ventured into the middle of the city and really enjoyed the traditional architecture and hutongs!

One thing I enjoy about the Chinese culture is eating together.  At a restaurant, you can order lots of small dishes and share them with everyone at your table.  It’s very communal!  People are overall very friendly and willing to help, if you have a smile and show them a map…although they may not always give you the right answer :).  Beijing feels like a relatively safe city, considering the massive size.  A downside to living here is the air quality!  Right now, I have cold symptoms, but I’m not sure if some of it is related to the pollution.  Also, I’m almost getting used to seeing men with their shirts pulled halfway up to their chest…they expose their bellies to cool off :).  Interesting!  Spitting on the ground is not uncommon.  Another observation: I like how people offer their seats on the bus to elderly and children!

Most of my daily routine involves being at school, and today was the first day back for our students!  In addition to my Artist-in-Residence position, I’ve been asked to teach Year 7 and Year 8 art (which is the British equivalent of 6th and 7th grade).  After teaching high school students for the last 5 years, it’s fun to have younger students who have so much energy and enthusiasm!  My route to school involves walking 5 minutes to the bus stop, riding the city bus for 15 minutes, and walking again for about 5 minutes.  However, the bus is not always consistent, so waiting is the hardest part.  Beijing is currently working on more subway lines for our area, so maybe within the next 2 years, I’ll have more modes of transportation.  Many of my colleagues ride their bicycles to work…I’m not as willing to brave the traffic!

Hutong, or alley

Chaoyang District

Hard Rock Cafe, Beijing

Bell tower

Central Beijing




2 Responses to “One Month”

  1. Marianne Curtis said

    Hi Ms. Barati,

    My Chinese I class is reading your blog, and we have some questions and a recommendation for you. One of my students recommended Pimzler Linguistic Program to help you learn Chinese. Also, we would like to know…What was the purpose of your move, especially without knowing Chinese? What’s your favorite Chinese dish, and does KFC tastes the same as here?

    Thank you!
    PHHS Chinese I, 1st block
    Marianne Curtis

    • Hi Ms. Curtis!
      Thanks for writing me! I appreciate the tip about Pimzler. I will look it up. Even though I do not know Chinese yet, I was reassured by my school that it was okay for me to accept the position and learn Chinese later. The majority of the staff at my school know English as their first language. Even the Chinese staff know at least some English. Of course, I still want to learn Chinese for my daily living and my own enjoyment. I moved to Beijing for a challenge and an adventure. Plus the job seemed to really suit my interests. My favorite Chinese dish so far are dumplings filled with pork and soup! My friend Andrea introduced me to a restaurant called Din Tai Fung, which is a chain around Asia. Their “special” dumplings are delicious. I haven’t had a chance to try KFC yet, but McDonald’s tastes the same as it does in the U.S. They offer a few different options on their menu here, but otherwise, the fries and chicken sandwiches taste the same. When I try KFC, I will let you know! Thanks again for writing, and please keep the questions coming!

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