Discussion » Ask a Foreigner » What Did You Have To Sacrifice To Live in Beijing?

  • Rebecca Dreiling
    Rebecca Dreiling wrote:
    So you live in Beijing and by now, you've probably acclimated quite nicely. You live in a cozy little apartment, made some new friends (well some of you anyway...), have a somewhat valuable grasp on the language and a contain a mental list of which bars to go hang out at and which alleys to not wander down alone at night in Sanlitun.

    All of that is soooo interesting, but what's more interesting is what got you there.

    What did you have to give up in your home country to get to Beijing? What did you have to sell? Who did you have to part ways with? What did you have to pawn? What sacrifices did you have to make? What/Who did you leave behind?

    Start spillin' kiddies. :)
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Fuck. I feel compelled to reply to this but I'm not sure if I should.
  • Rebecca Dreiling
    Oh be nice, Jon. I thought we were forming a friendship.
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Give up:
    Career ...
    fresh air ...
    strangers with nice smiles ...
    driving (yes, as Pete said. I dont have the balls to drive in Beijing or China, hell, I dont even want to drive in Hong Kong) ...
    Cricket, Rugby League, Aussie Rules ...

    My car ...

    Leave behind:
    Our nice little townhouse (being rented), most importantly the kitchen ...
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Tangible Possessions that I've sold or am selling at the moment:

    -2 bedroom condo in Chicago suburbs (rented out, not sold due to shitty housing market)
    -Mustang GT Convertible
    -Toyota Tundra Pickup Truck
    -Yamaha R6 Race Motorcycle
    -Suzuki SV650 Race Motorcycle
    -Kawasaki ZX636 Race Motorcycle
    -8x16 foot Race Hauler Trailer
    -An assload of racing gear and equipment
    -All my computer equipment except for 2 laptops
    -My precious guns and firearms
    -A lot of little things


    -My sanity
    -My racing community
    -All my non-racing friends :(

    What the hell am I doing leaving behind basically a normal life in the US and coming over to China? Fuck, I don't know. Long story. Part of it is because I made some business/job decisions that led me down a path I didn't like and this is allowing me to reinvent myself again.

    Of course I could do that in the US too but the other part of it is that I seem to be struck with an inability to really enjoy myself in the Midwest US for some reason... of course I had racing but that's something I dove into 100% to drown out my boredom at the rest of my social life. It was just boring. I guess I'm not ready to settle down and get married and live out the rest of my days working for some random Telecom company yet.

    Here in BJ, I'm a foreigner so everything feels new and different. Not sure if I just have wanderlust or if I'm just insane or what. Obviously I could have just moved to New York or Cali or something, but this is a lot more drastic and the major shift in direction actually feels pretty damned good so far. I've only spent about 6 months in Beijing total though and am not really too familiar with the cutthroat business market back there but that will come with time.

    The next two years will see me attaining a graduate degree at Tsinghua Uni and who knows, I may end up staying in China even longer. In fact I'd say the chances are pretty high that my stay will end up closer to 5 years if I can find reasonable work. After this... who knows? Maybe dig into another new country. But by that time, I'll probably be too old to travel like a teenager and restart my professional life.
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Almost forgot to mention: Nissan Pathfinder SUV and a decent high speed internet connection. Incredible shock going from 30mbps to 1.5mbps...
  • Jenelyn Tambago
    Hey, just wondering...here there are tons of free football fields...but yet no one plays...
    how about starting WLIB gathering for those who like playing football...(related to things I leave behind)
    Family, friends, avocado, understanding what people say, not being looked at as strange bug...youtube...now google...........
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Hahaha ... Pablo, but isnt that what the "group" is for? I am sure you can find a few groups that share common interest with you ...

    Astaroth, what data?
  • Simen Stensvoll
    clean air
    nanny state
    closed attitudes
    cultural diversity
    empty space
  • Rebecca Dreiling
    Pablo, one of the things I missed so much in china was avacados!!!!
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Rebecca, I am sure you can get them in Beijing ... maybe BHG or Jenny Lou's?
  • Jenelyn Tambago
    there are avocados in BJ...
    but 2 tiny ones for 130 yuan its fucking crazy
  • Jenelyn Tambago
    same reason why i hardly eat good cheese...the only one i eat in BJ is Cheddar and i think is not even made with milk ><
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Hahahaha ... that's why every time I go home, I brought at least one kg ... did I just make it sound like drug trafficking? hahaha ...
  • Rebecca Dreiling
    So I have a confession to make!

    Part of this topic was to get to know some of you better....and the other part was to get inspired by someone's crazy story of what they did to get there...because there's days where I wish I could just walk away from this all and get the first flight headed to Beijing....and if I had a little more inspiration...I might just feel compelled enough to do it...but so far, it's nothing major.

    I'm sure Pete DeMola has a good story! ;)
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Hahahaha ... it's easy for you to say ... I wish I could just take the first flght back to Sydney :)
  • Jenelyn Tambago
    Ohhh....my story is kinda good, but is more related to a girl than Beijing itself xD
  • Daniel Westerberg
    Appartment, Facebook, Work as a developer, some old friends, good pizzas, good potato chips and dipp, good bread, good cheese, fast internet.. :P
  • Rebecca Dreiling
    @uncle: I'm sure everyone would gladly pitch in to get you home. ;)

    @Pablo: everyone loves a good story

    Side note: typing on this iPhone in the car is so obnoxious!
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Hahaha ... cannot wait :)
  • Jenelyn Tambago
    Nah, actually i bet here is a common story.
    We met on Skype 4 and a half years ago, and after a few months, she convinced me that it was a good idea to have a relationship online....but....since is kinda an intimate story, and she may read this....I hope she continues the story for me...so i wont get into trouble xD hahaha
  • Malin Aaker
    Malin Aaker wrote:
    @rebecca: definitely jenny lou has avocados, I use that a lot!

    But I don't think I sacrificed anything to get here...
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Don't tell them that! Your cover story should be that you had to sacrifice your height... that you had your legs surgically shortened so that you could be smuggled into the country easier. That's why your knees are shit anyways. I bet the ladies would all fall in love with you for that story!
  • Pete DeMola
    Pete DeMola wrote:
    I sacrificed my sanity. Does that count?
  • Malin Aaker
    Malin Aaker wrote:
    @Jon: ok, I'll try that next time. I'll add some elephants to the mix and I'm sure with all that, I'm soooo gonna score!
  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:
    Dairy. Fuck my life. I miss covering everything I eat with handfuls of cheese and washing it all down with whole milk.
  • Simen Wangberg
    "I miss covering everything I eat with handfuls of cheese and washing it all down with whole milk."


    Also VERNORS. Sweet baby Jesus do I miss that shit. Michigan represent.

    Although really, I think I've replaced almost everything I "lost" when I came here, and have gained a bit more. I do miss my friends and family, but we keep in touch and I have a pretty tight circle of friends here.

    Oh! My film and book library. I just download movies now, but it's not the same. My 9-disc Alien Quadrilogy boxset...damn. Slowly replacing my books though. Also sucked to lose my musical equipment, I had some nice stuff...but slowly replacing that as well.
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
    Hygiene. I now have to get used to toilets were used tissues are not flashed and the toilets stink, the streets where people spit on each other's feet and blow there noses and touch the mucus with hands, i also sacrificed the traditional curtsey of shaking hands because many do not wash them after using the toilets.
  • YOGI
    YOGI wrote:
    John Gu: sell me some of your racing gears
  • Rebecca Dreiling
    When I moved there the first time, I had to sell my car and motorcycle. I gave away most of my clothes to my girlfriends, and of course, they were much obliged. I sold so many of my favorite books (which I still have some regrets about). I had to give up starting college for the first time (with really cheap in-state tuition). I had to part ways with friends who were opposed to me moving to Beijing. I also had to leave quite a bit of hospital bills untouched on my credit report so I could go, which still makes things more difficult for me today.

    Everything I owned was condensed into two suitcases. I even wrote my first essay in Writing 101 about the whole experience (which gave me an A+). Everything I gave up though, was nothing compared to what I gained by living there. I don't think if I had opted out of moving to China, that I would have grown as quickly as I have. I'm so fortunate for the sacrifices I made to live there.
  • 芝芝
    芝芝 wrote:
    I gain my freedom but lost many things
  • Børge Notkevich
    I left my old life to start a new one
  • Xiao
    Xiao wrote:
    i sacrificed the chance to be born somewhere else =)
  • Rebecca Dreiling
    Xiao. Our cute little pessimist. Oh how we love you. :)
  • Jenelyn Tambago
    We is too much people!
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Pete ... piece by piece, we lose a small chunk of sanity when we get old, it's not geographical, though in Beijing, the pieces are bigger than back home *wink* *wink* ... and that's why infants speak the most truth ... the good news is that, different people live different lives, so you are perhaps more sane than a lot of people, i.e. me ...

    Saibo ... summarising from all the good things I have heard ... dont ever give up your "nice-ness" ...

    Astaroth ... hahaha ... remember, we are making one major major sacrifice everyday ... one day of our time ... rock on ...

    COOL ... though it is VERY bad, I would like to think that it could have been even worse ... e.g. you could be stepping on human poo when you go into the toilets ... I cannot do the lion thing like you, so I will do my DD thing ... *meow* ...

    That's all for now ...
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Formally said goodbye to my motorcycle racing buddies and posted up everything I have for sale to those guys at fire sale prices today. I want to cry, 6 years in the sport and now it's all gotta go :'(
  • Simen Wangberg
    "lake michigan."

    Oh damn. Lakes and other large bodies of freshwater in general. I didn't think I'd miss it so much until I came here. The water parks are okay I guess...eh. I need to hit the beach again.
  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:

    Holy fuck I went all the way to Hangzhou because everyone said West Lake was so fucking awesome. And guess what? YOU CAN'T FUCKING SWIM IN TMD XIHU.
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Hahahaha ... why would anyone want to swim in it?
  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:
    There aren't lakes in the outback, are there?
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    Outback, as in Australian outback? or China's outback? I cant quite follow ...
  • Malin Aaker
    Malin Aaker wrote:
    @Dando: you can swim in Qiandaohu.
  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:
    @DD, the one with the dingos what eat babies. Does China have an outback? Aside from the Outback Steakhouse at GongTi, that is.

    @Saibo, I've seen people swimming in Houhai and Qianhai, too. But is it clean?
  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)

    There is also an Outback in Beijing Hotel, across the mall/road, west of Oriental Plaza ... we went there once, but not as good as the one in Causeway Bay Hong Kong ...

    Per my understanding of outback, I am sure China has such surroundings too, though it wont be anywhere too close to Beijing ... maybe around the Inner Mong or Mong region? If you need to find virgin landscape with clean swimming (and drinkable) water, my guess is go west ... if I have the guts to drive in China, I wont mind taking a 4WD to explore the west :)

  • Malin Aaker
    Malin Aaker wrote:
    I can only say that the water in qiandaohu is very very clear, completely transparent (when I was there at least). And none of us had any kind of trouble after bathing there. But I didn't do any water analysis that could make me swear how clean it is!
  • Joakim Berg Solum
    Fuck it. I like Beijing air. There are so few trees and grass in BJ that my allergies aren't a problem anymore. I'll take pollution over allergens any day. I plan to die young anyways so whatever...

    Yeah... does anyone else notice the phenomenon of missing something more simply because you can't have it in BJ? I too am lamenting over the loss of cottage cheese and peaches but honestly, I rarely if ever eat that in America anyways.
  • Simen Stensvoll
    ahah i liked nude swimming in the river when i was much younger
    but nowadays people like swimming in the pool
  • Rebecca Dreiling
    I try not to complain about the air quality in Beijing ("it is what it is")....but then I remember the gnarly chest infection I got while I was there. Holy crap, that sucked.
  • Peter S 李贝勒
    summary ; Lungs...
  • Rebecca Arnesen
    I got in touch with my Inner Mong
  • A豆腐
    A豆腐 wrote:
    -A certain future in a job, life and love for an uncertain future in all
    -8 kg of weight
    -old habits
    -mac notebook
    -a black cat called misha
  • Petter Meisfjordskar
  • ****
    **** wrote:
    Friends, food&wine (because even if they still have some goods in beijing , the environment is not the same and it does count).Paris&Dordogne.

    and this beautiful venitian-haired girl who could have been my most epic love story and who's smile split my heart apart every time i remembered it
  • 雪地
    雪地 wrote:

    -fresh air, clean water
    -non-selfish people *1
    -puke-free streets (living at guijie now)
    -culture balance
    -MSG free food
    -people that thing longer then a week *2
    -non-greedy people
    -family & friends
    -honest coworkers *3
    -people to play weiqi with *4
    -spring & outoum time

    don't missunderstand me, i love to be in china :-)




    *1 people that don't smash the dor into your face after they passed before you, that don't cut your line and pretend they did not see you, that do not push you back into the empty subway while you want to get out, strange forign tourist that stare at you when you walk throught your hutong in underware to buy somethng at the xiaomaibu ;-)

    *2 example: my old landlady heared at the olympic games she can ask me for 3 times the rent, before i moved in the apartment was about 3 years empty ... with here was no way of talking, her short term thiking and her greediness make me move out. An friend ( old neignbour ) told me since the games 2008 the partment is emty again, but she found for one month someone to rent for trible the money ....

    *3 regular it happes that people mess up something, in germany you go to your supervisor and say sorry i messed up something, you booth look into it and fix it. In china people try to hide whatever they do, people have to spend 10 times more man hour to find out why suddenly thing don't work anymore while the guy sit in his desk and try to block the repairs in order to hide his mistake ... at the end it always come out and he is fired ... totally unessesary ...

    *4 no joke, i was plaing a lot of weiqi in germany, i found non so far that like to play weiqi, just chinese chess :-(

  • Hans Christian Eriksson

    Just think of these two economics terms: Opportunity cost and trade off.

  • G
    G wrote:



  • Joakim Berg Solum

    Duc 748's are fuckin beautiful machines...

  • Kay
    Kay wrote:





    most of us we got here in bj, and we now use to our avatar kind of identity role, faking in and so on... most of us by trying to rebuild our life with the advantage to be more foreigner here than in any other country in the world.

    advantages that allow us :

    - to be pay more for the same job that chinese people would be payed less

    - bang some hot and sweet chinese chicks  


    so i will say that i sacrifice my real ME being in BJ

    I miss ME

    PS: dont blame this on me, but blame it on the system (we"ve got to play the game)

  • Simen Wangberg

    Twinkies. Ho-Hos. Swiss Cake Rolls. Fig Newtons.




  • Simen Wangberg

    Solid bowel movements.

  • Ejdnzlaj
    Ejdnzlaj wrote:

    oh ho ho

  • Yanni
    Yanni wrote:

    what is most important when we are getting older and older?

  • Ms. Stephanie
    Ms. Stephanie wrote:


  • Simen Wangberg

    I like that Gaspard edited his post to include "cheap lychees". Cos isn't that what life is really all about, anyway? I've never even had one.

  • Simen Wangberg

    I mean, what's in them? Isn't it like a fruity cocktail-type thing? Those are okay, although I'm more of whiskey/scotch guy. Exceptions for fruity beer. KRIEK! So good.

  • Simen Wangberg

    Ohhh. See, that's how little I know about them, I just thought it was a type of cocktail. Womp womp.

  • Qi Xiao
    Qi Xiao wrote:

    Gave up almost everything...

    Above all, I'm not feeling like I'm "me" any more

  • 随便叫兽
    随便叫兽 wrote:

    It's as if the only time Michael has encountered the word "lychee" was next to the word martini on a 酒单. Fucking lush.

  • Simen Wangberg

    "It's as if the only time Michael has encountered the word "lychee" was next to the word martini on a 酒单."



  • Even Nygård
    Even Nygård wrote:

    The entire news industry was under a hiring freeze when I graduated with a degree in journalism. I decided to use the $1,005 I saved during college to escape.

    About $690 went to a one-way airplane ticket to China.

    The next $300 went to a deposit on my housing.

    Two hours later, the building maintenance people walked upstairs and asked if I wanted my pots and pans. I said yes. They took 100 yuan. It would be three weeks till my first paycheck.

    I'll spare any descriptions of what I ate, but I will say I woke up extra early every morning to steal bottles of water from my neighbors. By the end of the month I had lost around 10 kilos.

    After that I lived frugally and saved as much money as I could. Six years later, my life here is quite easy. I can't say the same for the people I know who stayed in the US.

    Given I came from the Detroit area, I guess you could say I had to sacrifice rust and poverty to live in Beijing.

  • Yanni
    Yanni wrote:

    only have the good wishes,will can't survive if only thinking about the sacrifices...

  • Lynn
    Lynn wrote:

    dont even want to think about what i gave up...there is simply nothing offers me here in BJ, except the food XD

    i gave up:

    1. Techno Raver life style

    2. Freedom to travel around the world whenever, wherever i want and meet FUN & AMAZING people

    3. my Chaos Religion


    5. my beloved Gloomy British weather, i loved them.especially when it rains for weeks and it look like DARK CITY

    6. openess to people, im fully alarmed all the time for people around me, and this didnt happen at all in Britain. people there are extremely nice and welcoming. they help you out of their kindness and good heart.

    7. Random communication with strangers, People here doesnt seem like to communicate at all. they are RESERVED.

    8. Tesco Ready Made Food, and fresh juice and poison free almost everything.

    9. happiness and fun.

    sooner or later i will run far far away, and never come back.

  • Rick (史大龙)

    Left behind;

    1: My kids (should be enough said)

    2: My house (now sitting empty unless my 16 year old son takes girls there)

    3: My 3 cars, 1 motorcycle

    4: Clean air and water

    5: Being able to recognize the food for sale in the supermarkets and products I can trust when I buy them.

    But, don't get me wrong, I chose this life and I love living in China....


  • Ole-Marius
    Ole-Marius wrote:

    Davochi & Jon Gu:

    I've found a hidden gem in Dongzhimen where they sell home made cottage cheese for 30 rmb for 500g. You can get it in April Gourmet, but that's twice the price.

    The place is called "The One", which is a small russian shop just across the street from White Nights :-)

  • Mengmeng
    Mengmeng wrote:

    Conclusion? can I add something?[br] I am bored enough to read all the previous posts, and I am impressed by Derrick Sobodash's story.[br]

    I think I sacrificed nothing to live here, maybe because I had nothing in the past. All the friends or family things, well, I have them in my heart, so distance will never be a problem.[br]

    What I have learned in Beijing?[br] 1. Independence: Many people are living a hard life here, I shouldn't add my burdon to them. So I don't turn to others for help as much as I used to, and I try to amuse people around me.[br] 2. Nonchalance: If I give 10 kuai to a beggar at one corner, I won't feel better unless I give out the same to each on the same street, then I feel robbed...So I just pretend I never see them thereafter.[br] 3. Being Self-centered: The office life seems not go along with confucious' romance. I've been working hard not to feel ashamed when putting my interests first. I'm almost there...then I will leave beijing soon.[br] 4. Patience: This is so important to live here or maybe most places in China, I didn't find it out before since I had no need to deal with all kinds of people and situations. Sometimes, I wonder, why people like to give each other such a hard time? Sometimes my answer is: they get paid for this.

  • Saint - Spartacus

    harmony & peace

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