Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Week in Beijing: Bite-Sized Version

The past week has been a long one, as first weeks in a new place usually are. But at the same time, I feel thrilled that we've made it through and can't believe we only have 9 more to go. I've been dreading this first week here for so long that I feel like it's been a major accomplishment to survive as we have.

A few observations and tidbits about life in Beijing so far:
  • They really do have nice weather here. I never believed it because I've only ever been to China in July, which is swelteringly miserable, at least in the east. But it's been in the 70s and 80s and low humidity almost every day--just like California at this time of year (with a little extra dust and pollution thrown in).
  • Biking is much faster than walking. Getting more than a backpack's worth of stuff home from the grocery store is still a more daunting task than I'm willing to attempt by myself yet--but at least the trip goes by more quickly on a bike.
  • Biking is much scarier than walking. I really need to get better at pedaling and balancing while going really, really slowly when I can't get around the pedestrians I'm stuck behind on a sidewalk.
  • Chinese people are much friendlier when we have a baby with us. But they also think we are insane to be out and about with a six-week-old. I want to tell them that yes, we are absolutely insane, and not a good representations of Americans as a whole. And don't worry, we really aren't taking Brax out too much. It's just nice to be able to go out all together sometimes.
  • Chinese mattresses are extremely firm. To the point that I have bruises on both of my hips from sleeping on my sides. I say this after all my collective experience of 7 weeks of my life spent in China. Maybe some Chinese mattresses are softer.
  • Having a washing machine in your apartment is awesome! Even when you have to hang all your clothes to dry for lack of a dryer.
  • I should never, ever go for a jog in a new place without a cell phone. I have a terrible sense of direction and am bound to get lost. Which is manageable in the US, but very different when I can't speak the language and don't even know the name of the building I'm living in, which is one of about 50 buildings that all look the same on Tsinghua's campus.
  • I miss cooking. But currently, we only own one pot. We will eventually buy more, but perhaps a few at a time so we can carry them back. And, of course, shopping itself is still a bit intimidating for me.
  • Everything would be easier if I could speak a little Mandarin. I will be getting one-on-one tutoring starting tomorrow for 3 hours a week. Maybe I'll be slightly functional by the end of July...we'll see.
  • Remote controlled air conditioners are a terrible idea. When the remote stops functioning for an unknown reason, you better hope you left the ac on a decent setting!
That's all for now. I still can't post any pictures, even though I have an adorable video of Braxon smiling. Probably just as well--I know you're all inundated by pictures and videos of adorable babies. But everything takes longer to figure out when you're a foreigner.


Lesley (and Eric) said...

It sounds so exciting!

The chinese lady who runs the dollar store up the street from us was always telling us how young P was to be out-- she said that in China, the baby stays indoors until it is 100 days old. I guess P is barely eligible (she's 103 days!). I can't imagine not having gone outside with her before now!

sienna said...

chinese ppl are hardcore about keeping their babies inside for a while. i have a few chinese girlfriends expecting soon and none of us are gonna be "allowed" to visit for at least 2 months. to be frank, i kinda like that philosphy, as i'd like to keep all germy visitors at bay for awhile :o) i can't believe how much change you guys are going through right now. brax is already a worldclass traveller at under 2 months old! i'm very amused that you somehow are getting on blogger anyways and giving us these updates :o) xoxo.

Alex said...

I didn't realize you were only going to be there 10 weeks - what an amazing experience! Keep the updates coming!