I can’t believe that we’ve already been in Beijing for a year.  This has been such an amazing experience.

What I’ve Enjoyed About Beijing:

  • Great shopping
    • From Hongqiao (Pearl Market) to Silk Market to others, shopping is fun while bartering is not always
    • I’ve bought some awesome things like silk table runners and inside glass paintings (plus many scarves and lots of pearls!)
  • Great public transportation
    • I’ve got the subway system down (it’s cheap–4 kuai (60 cents) and so easy for anyone to use–plus it has English!)
    • I understand how to take the bus (it’s even cheaper–2 kuai (40 cents) and can sometimes be better than the subway as it can drop you off right in front of where you want to go.)
    • I can handle taxis (although they do not always want to pick up foreigners but I’ve also done well using my Chinese skills to converse.)
  • Great delivery service
    • Sometimes it’s nice to stay at home and not cook, so having an app to easily order food (in English and with a low delivery fee–plus no tipping) is great
  • Great opportunities for exploring so much history
    • The Summer Palace is my favorite out of the historical sites
    • Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Lama and Confucius Temples are all great sights to see as well
  • Great opportunities for hiking
    • There are twelve different parts of the Great Wall in Beijing that we’ve learned about so far—I’ve been to 11 so far (and some more than once).
    • Black Dragon Pool is also cool to see waterfalls!

What I’ve Learned:

  • There are lots of things I can handle.
    • I can live in a city.
    • I can live in another country.
    • I can manage to get around without knowing the language.
    • I can also learn another language (and one that is difficult too!).
    • I can drive when the driving is more fluid.
  • There are lots of China skills I’ve learned too.
    • When driving, whoever goes first has right of way (if I don’t look at you, I don’t see you, so therefore I’m first!)
    • When walking, your head needs to be on a constant swivel because you never know when a bike or scooter will be up on the sidewalk or crossing the road the wrong way.
    • When bartering, start well below the price you want something for and work your way back up.
    • 100 kuai is no where near $100 (it’s about $15).

What I’m Most Proud of:

  • Communicating with others in Chinese
    • Chinese is not an easy language and for only taking it twice a week for an hour each since February, I’d say I’m doing pretty well!  It’s so cool when you can carry on a conversation with someone.
  • Making an impact on teachers all the way over here
    • Sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching is inspiring others here to keep going.

What Trips I’ve Enjoyed:

  • Chengdu:  Oh, how I loved seeing those pandas.  They are oh so cute and fun to watch.  I love how they just lay on their backs chewing on bamboo without a care in the world it seems.  DSCF7966
  • Mongolia:  It was so awesome herding yak while horseback riding there.FullSizeRender 15
  • Xian:  The Terra-cotta Warriors is an impressive sight.  To think, a farmer just happened upon them.DSCF0221
  • Harbin:  img_0754Not only was it amazing seeing the snow and ice sculptures but eating ice cream in -30 degree weather was an neat experience.
  • Tianjin:  Our first bullet train ride took us to a city about 40 minutes away to experience a temple fair.img_0861 It doesn’t get more China than that!
  • Shanghai:  The Bund, and the city itself, is so fun to experience at night.DSC02998-Edit-2

What I’m Looking Forward to:

  • More travels both in China and to other countries
  • More exploring the city of Beijing itself (we’ve got a checklist going and are now trying to find the not so touristy things to see)

What I Miss (besides my family):

  • My horse, Beau.
    • He’s living the life right now but I sure do miss our rides together.
  • Certain Restaurants
    • Someone go enjoy some Outback and Olive Garden for me.
  • Certain Foods
    • Oh, how I wish it would be so easy to run and get some provolone cheese or to get a quart of ice cream.
  • The thing I miss the most…CLEAN AIR!!!
    • I don’t think I’ve experienced a week straight of good air for a year now. 😦  At least every day isn’t bad air though!
  • Oh, I guess I also REALLY miss fast and reliable internet. *sigh*

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So for you living in the States, be thankful for the clean air and good internet. 🙂

Closing Thoughts:

I still can’t believe all that we have seen experienced this past year.  Not only have the trips been amazing, it’s also been a wonderful experience meeting so many new and interesting people.  When you meet people abroad, you have a different connection with them.  You are experiencing something that not all get to, so I’d rather look at the positives and make the most of our time.  By living overseas, I have a greater respect for those who come to America and lack the language skills.  I got it before but now I truly understand what it’s like to live in a place where you don’t speak the language and try your best to convey what you mean.  This is such an awesome experience.  I may have come into this move being a little nervous and unsure, but I sure am glad that we made this move!

TOTE:  A year flies by, so make the most of it!