Tenille’s new “normal”

Don has been the principal author to our blog, and I’m in charge of adding appropriate photos.  But, I thought some of you, especially the ladies, might enjoy some of the details that make up my new "normal."
1.  I have used three squatter toilets now.  They’re not so bad, or maybe I just haven’t come across a bad one yet.
2.  I am typically the only white person in the grocery store I frequent, and everyone stares at me like, "who is this girl and what is she doing here".  The Chinese kids are especially funny because they haven’t learned about the proper amount of time to look at someone, so they will literally stare at me the whole time their parents are trying to drag them away.  I just smile and wave.
3.  Our clothes washer is actually a washer and a dryer all in one.  The unit can fit about 1/2 the amount of clothes that my washer at home fits, and the whole cycle takes 6 hours per load.  Even then, the clothes are not completely dry, and I have to lay them out all over our apartment.  They dry quickly though.
4.  The dishwasher can barely fit one meal’s worth of dishes, but I’m grateful to have one as most apartments don’t have one.
5.  I go to a produce/meat market to buy produce.  The fruits and vegetables are super fresh, yummy, and inexpensive.  I just have to make sure I wash them really good or peel them.  I bought some whole shrimp there, but I haven’t dared to buy any meat yet, although I’ve heard it’s safe in the winter.  Again, you have to wash the meat several times.
6.  We take taxis almost anywhere we go.  They’re really inexpensive, and I’m sure we’re paying way less than we do at home to drive our cars.
7.  Crossing the streets is scary!  Cars don’t stop for you.  They will honk, however, which means, "Here I come, get out of the way."  Oh, and lines on the street as well as signs seem to be merely suggestions.
8.  The restaurant food here is fantastic!  There are some wacky things on the menus, but we’ve found edible (to us) things everywhere we go, and it is great food at inexpensive prices.  We are eating out a lot more here than at home since it is so cheap and convenient.  Cooking at home is a challenge.
9.  The Chinese people love babies, and having Andrew around with his ever-present smile really breaks the cultural barrier.  Sometimes it’s a little too close as complete strangers will hold his hands or pat his cheeks.  There doesn’t seem to be a sense of personal space, which is understandable considering over 17 million people live in Beijing.
10.  The markets here are a lot of fun!  You can bargain shop for anything and everything.  You just have to be willing to walk away to get the best price.
11.  Awesome perk:  I don’t have to clean our apartment!  It’s kind of like living in a hotel in that the housekeeping staff comes twice a week and changes our sheets and towels and cleans the entire apartment!  I love it!
11.  As you enter a store, there is usually a clump of sales people there to greet you.  Inevitably, one will follow you around the store.  If you pick up a product, they will sometimes point out a "better" product (more expensive).  It’s really weird to have someone follow you around, but I’m guessing it’s just as weird for them to be following around an American girl who doesn’t understand what they are saying.  I just ignore them the best I can.  It is nice, though, when I want to know how much something is because the products are not usually organized nicely above the price tags.  It’s kind of like Trader Joe’s frozen food section except imagine all of the price tags in Chinese.  Good luck!
12.  The language barrier is rough, but I’ve found that trying my best to communicate with the little Chinese I know and a smile goes a long way.  A sense of humor is vital!

I am loving our little adventure!

1 Comment

  1. Tenille, I love reading about your family adventures. I bet it makes you really appreciate what you have back here at home. I forget how different things are for other countries until I read about it. How fun!

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