Living in Beijing is like living in another big city.  You have public transportation-the bus, the subway, a taxi.  You can walk to so much-work, restaurants, shopping, groceries. There’s Gap, Forever 21, H&M, Adidas, Puma, Apple, Sony, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and much more.  You can find a little bit of home here…and you can find some new experiences too.

Life in China definitely has some differences from life in the States.

  • There are plastic coverings for the doorways.  Apparently it can help with the pollution?  There were quite a few stores in the beginning that I wasn’t sure about going into because I didn’t see a “normal” door.  So, I just watched to see what others did and learned that way.  You can learn a lot through your observations.
  • Lots of people carry suitcases with them.  Still not quite sure why.
  • The outside of a building can be deceiving. So much in underground!
  • Like in the States, you’ll find people selling things on the streets.  One thing you find here is people selling warm sweet potatoes.  Apparently, they’re quite tasty!
  • There are crosswalks and pedestrian signals but you don’t have the right of way.  It’s like playing the real life version of Frogger.  That is the best way to describe it but you have to get across as some point, so keep your head on a swivel.
  • Speaking of cars, there are tons of scooters everyone and they just scoot along wherever and whenever, so just because the light says one thing, doesn’t mean that it will be followed.  Again, head on a swivel.
  • You have someone weigh your fruit before taking it to the checkout.  Apparently this is true in other places, but it was new to me!  The first time I tried buying some grapes, they got taken away at the checkout because I didn’t have a price sticker on them.  I learned though (through observation) and now know to give it to the person standing in the vegetable aisle by the scale.
  • Sometimes taxis won’t use the meter.  Word to the wise-don’t use that taxi then.  They’ll overcharge you, so look for another one or another way.
  • You’ll see some people wearing masks (even on nice days) and some people never wearing masks (even on bad days).  Don’t let them be your judge.  Use an app or something to find out the air quality.  If it’s <150, I don’t use a mask.  If it’s 150-300, I use my Vogmask.  If it’s above 300, I try to stay inside but if I do go out, I use my heavy duty mask.
  • You have to add salt (a special kind) to use your dishwasher.
  • You’re usually served hot water when out somewhere (not quite as refreshing as a nice ice cold glass of water to me!).
  • Milk is different. It’s only refrigerated once open. It has a long shelf life here.
  • Ice cream is extremely pricey. A tiny container can be $10!
  • The biggest difference-the bathrooms.  I was most concerned with this since I heard how they are not typical toilets (and they’re not-except on the rare occasion).  So when you go to the public bathroom, the sinks are in the common area and you go to the left or right.  If you need toilet paper, you’ll usually find that in the common area just before you enter (you won’t find it in the stall).  Grab some there or some TP/tissues on you.  And don’t flush it down the hole, it goes in the trash in the stall when done. 🙂 I must say though, that I think the public toilets in China are almost cleaner than some toilets in the States.  You just have to squat.  You’ll get used to it…maybe. 🙂

Overall though, moving to Beijing was an easy transition because you still have malls, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.  You can find what you need here easily.  It’s not so different after all.

TOTE: You’re bound to find differences but take comfort in the similarities.