Beijing Expat: October 2019

October has been another exciting month for the Willesen family! I could best describe it as a month of both ‘old and new’. As in, we have been here long enough to where we are really missing a few of the things we had in the USA, but also short enough to where we are still discovering all the fun things and food Beijing has to offer!

Sanlitun

October is the first month where the climate has really started to get cold! We bought new blankets as well as things like scarves and gloves because it is chilly in the morning. We had one morning that the fog/smog was unbelievable! You could barely see down the road and scared me considering I still take a didi to school. We even got to wear our pollution masks for the first time, which I am told is a lot more common in the winter time. I had purchased our masks in the USA before we came because I knew they would be a necessity, I just didn’t know it would make us all look like Bane from Batman! It has also been raining a bit which will lessen over the winter because it is fairly dry here. I wished I hadn’t forgotten my umbrella as it began pouring on my walk from class to lunch. Either way, the weather is still very different then what I am used to in Phoenix, Arizona.

So while the weather has been a bit new, my food habits have been a mix of both old and new. We have been missing a few of the things in the USA that were easy to get: Mac n’ Cheese, grape jelly, salsa, tortillas, etc. I discovered that some of these things are readily available if you know where to look! I recently went to Sam’s Club and spent almost $100 (I never spend that much) on western delicacies like ground beef, Belgian chocolates, shredded cheese, avocados, and thick juicy steaks! You should have seen my boys’ eyes light up when I started unpacking all of my goodies from my bags and onto the table. We ate great the next few nights because Korey had things to cook with again! We have resorted to take out for quite a few weeks because we haven’t mastered this ‘no oven’ thing. I think we will have to order a toaster oven on taobao during Singles’ Day (Nov. 11, kind of like Cyber Monday) because there is only so much you can do on a stovetop. Luckily, steaks and tacos can both be made in a pan and we LOVED feeling a bit more like we were at home. I even shelled out 250 rmb ($35.80) to import 5 boxes of Velveeta Mac n Cheese because we missed it so bad. I later found butter popcorn and salsa at a little store in Sanlitun which was awesome because we had gone to a Chinese movie theatre and all they had was sweet popcorn! Talk about culture shock!

Don’t worry, there has been a lot of new too! I have been going out with my teacher friends every other weekend to explore Beijing. I went with the ladies a few weeks ago to head to an amazing restaurant called the Taco Bar and a western flea market in Sanlitun. They had all of these small knick knacks and foods made by westerners and locals that live in Beijing. I bought a pair of earrings for a friend’s birthday, a new phone case, and an amazing calendar drawn by an artist based on Beijing life. My friends also bought a bunch of items but it was just nice to get out and see the city! I also rode on a scooter with my friend Kim for the first time and it was awesome! I was a little apprehensive because I have seen the driving conditions in China and swore I would never get on the back of one of those things. But now I am seriously considering one of my own because it was so quick and convenient. You see a lot more of life on the back of a scooter then you do a car!

Right before Halloween though, we received some bad news. There were rumors going around that our complex was going to be torn down and my husband was pretty concerned about it. I laughed it off and said, “No way! We signed a one year lease!” A day later, our realtor reached out to us and confirmed that the rumors were true. We have until November 30th to find a new place. The government had forcibly taken over control of the building because it was illegal housing. It sure didn’t seem like illegal housing to me but then again, I just got here. So we are now having to look for a new place to live during the school year. The pressure is certainly on and we haven’t yet found a place. I will share all my apartment troubles on the next blog, but don’t worry we will be fine! We are trying to look in a urban area so we can be nearer to things like the subway and restaurants! We tried a new place a days ago and the noodles were amazing. I think we would prefer to live in the city (we live in the suburbs now) and still live relatively close to the school. Well, until next time!

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