Living In China

Living in Beijing: A Guide For ESL Teachers

Beijing, the capital of China, is a city that is known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and modern development. With a population of over 20 million people, Beijing is a bustling metropolis that is always on the move. Living in Beijing can be both exciting and challenging, but it is an experience that is definitely worth having. Many of the people I met while living in China really enjoyed living in Beijing. The main reason I was given was that there are so many different nationalities and cultures represented, making the transition easy. The other big reason was that many loved living in city with so much history and colure. Many feel that living there is truly experiencing the China that was otherwise only read about in books.

There are challenges too, and I will look at both sides of living in Beijing – the good, the bad and the smoggy!

Living in Beijing

The City

Beijing is a city that is steeped in history and culture. The city has a long and fascinating past, with landmarks such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven, all within easy reach. The city’s modern development has also been impressive, with the construction of several new landmarks such as the CCTV headquarters and the National Stadium (also known as the Bird’s Nest) for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Beijing’s streets are always busy, with traffic jams and crowds being a common sight. However, the city’s efficient public transport system makes it easy to get around. The subway system is extensive and affordable, and buses and taxis are also readily available. For those who prefer to walk or cycle, there are plenty of parks and pedestrian streets in the city.

The People

Beijingers are friendly and hospitable people, and the city is home to a diverse population of locals and expats. With the city being the political, cultural, and economic center of China, it attracts people from all over the country and the world.

Although English is not widely spoken, many Beijingers are eager to practice their language skills and communicate with foreigners. It is not uncommon for locals to strike up a conversation with visitors or offer to help them navigate the city.

The Food

Food is an essential part of life in Beijing, and the city is famous for its cuisine. Beijing cuisine, also known as Jing cuisine, is characterized by its bold flavors, use of local ingredients, and traditional cooking techniques.

One of the most famous dishes from Beijing is Peking duck, a roasted duck that is typically served with thin pancakes, scallions, and sweet bean sauce. Other must-try dishes include zhajiangmian (noodles with soybean paste), jiaozi (dumplings), and hot pot.

Beijing also has a thriving street food scene, with vendors selling everything from baozi (steamed buns) to roujiamo (Chinese-style hamburgers). The street food is not only delicious but also affordable, making it a popular option for locals and tourists alike.

Shopping in Beijing

Beijing is a shopper’s paradise, with a wide variety of options ranging from high-end luxury stores to bustling street markets. One of the most famous shopping areas in the city is the Wangfujing Street, a pedestrian shopping street that is home to both traditional Chinese stores and international brands. Another popular shopping destination is the Silk Market, which is known for its silk products, tailor-made suits, and knock-off designer goods.

For those looking for a more authentic shopping experience, the city has several traditional markets such as the Panjiayuan Antique Market and the Liulichang Cultural Street. These markets offer a wide range of antiques, handicrafts, calligraphy, and paintings, giving visitors a taste of traditional Chinese culture.

The Weather in Beijing

Beijing has a temperate and continental monsoon climate, with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures averaging around 30°C (86°F) and occasional thunderstorms. Winters are cold and dry, with temperatures dropping well below freezing and occasional snowfall.

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Beijing, with mild temperatures and clear skies. However, these seasons can be short, and visitors should be prepared for sudden temperature changes.

The Challenges of Living in Beijing

Living in Beijing is not without its challenges. The city’s air pollution is a significant concern, with the city’s high population density and industrial activity contributing to poor air quality. However, the government has taken steps to address the issue, such as reducing the number of cars on the road and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.

Another challenge for expats living in Beijing is the language barrier. Mandarin Chinese is the official language, and although many locals speak some English, it can be challenging to communicate without knowledge of the language. However, there are many language schools and tutors available in the city, and learning Chinese can be a rewarding experience.

Living in Beijing – Final Thoughts

Living in Beijing is a unique and exciting experience that offers a blend of history, culture, and modern development. The city’s rich past and dynamic present make it an excellent place to explore, and the local food and friendly people make it an enjoyable place to live. Although the city has its challenges, such as air pollution and language barriers, it is a city that is constantly evolving and improving, and the benefits of living and teaching English in Beijing far outweigh the challenges.

Tom Bogues

Tom is the Director of ESL Job Center. He has been working in the TEFL industry in one form or another since 2016 and is now using that experience to match quality teachers with quality schools across China.

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