So I’m now onto the third part of my pretty crazy summer, my internship in China. I landed on the 2nd so I’ve had a couple of days to settle down now and find my bearings a bit.
I’m staying in an area quite far out of Beijing at the academy I’m teaching at. The building is a traditional Chinese courtyard style which is really cool. Luckily my room has air con or it would be pretty difficult to sleep. The weather isn’t too hot but by English standards it’s still pretty warm (about 27 degrees and muggy as hell).
I haven’t really done that much yet because I’ve been getting over jet lag, but from what we have attempted we haven’t been very successful. We started by getting the metro to Wangjing to go and get sim cards and a bank account. After waiting about 45 minutes in the phone shop, when we finally got served they told us that our phones didn’t support that network so we couldn’t get one. We tried to go and set up a bank account instead only to be told that we needed a phone number in order to set that up. This was about 20 minutes before the bank closed so we didn’t have time to go back and get a sim card so we just went home instead. In the evening I went with some of the other tutors to a local restaurant to avoid falling asleep at about 6pm. From what I’ve experienced so far everyone is pretty great and this is quite a chill place to work. I’m very glad about this because I’m not sure the whole rigid structure work life is for me. On the way home I stopped off in the local supermarket which is a bit wild. I absolutely love going to supermarkets in other countries because the selection of foods is fascinating. There were all sorts of weird things like cucumber flavoured crisps and preserved chickens feet, pig skin and other delights (all kept in vacuum packed packets at room temperature, DELIGHTFUL).
On the second day we got a bit adventurous and went to IKEA (very cultural I know). One of my favourite things here is that the people go to IKEA to have a little nap in the beds and on the sofa. People fully took off their shoes and got under the covers to sleep, someone brought their laptop to sit and do work, a mother had put her toddler down for a nap. No one even batted an eyelid, in fact I think it was more normal for a bed/sofa to be occupied than not. I mean you’ve gotta try before you buy right? We stocked up on extra pillows for our beds, mirrors (and in my case, cacti for my desk, even though I’m only here for 3 months). Another observation: Chinese mattresses are about as soft as a yoga mat on a hardwood floor, no exaggeration. And extra pillows and cushions aren’t really a thing. We tucked into our meatballs with a cool view of skyscrapers in the background.
In the evening we headed to the western supermarket closest to us. It was still packed with loads of brands we’d never seen before but it had quite cheap alcohol (wine for £4, smirnoff for £7), ben and jerry’s, huge pots of nutella and even boots own brand skincare (we were quite tickled by the fact toiletries were called ‘daily chemicals’).
So in essence I have probably done the least Chinese things in Beijing. I’m hoping were going to do a few more cultural things soon so stay tuned.