I thought it was really fun reading all the questions you posted about our life in China. Without further ado, here is my attempt to answer them.
1. What is the population of Beijing? (Marti Forbus)
Bing says that the population of Beijing is 21.7 million. To put this into perspective, the combined population of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama is just barely larger than that at 21.85 million. It’s massive.
2. What grades and hours do you teach? Would you teach again? (Anna Seirengowski)
Usually, we teach from around 2:00-8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8:15-6:30 on the weekends. I would say about half of my students are pre-primary school (3-6) while the other half ranges from ages 7-15. For me, I enjoy living abroad and don’t mind teaching as a way to do that. Alex is not interested in teaching kids again, but is open to maybe teaching adults.
3. What’s the most difficult challenge you guys have faced in China so far? (Lindsey Tillman) What have you missed most about the US? (Lizzie Kolakoski)
While this sounds kind of nitpicky, not being able to get what you want due to the language barrier is really frustrating and I miss the ease of asking things in English. Even asking for things like lotion that is so incredibly simple back home can be difficult because a. Chinese is hard and b. we are not very advanced in our Chinese skills. For a more extreme example, look no further than my terrible massage experience. Also, Drew Jackson, I am very much looking forward to an English massage for full relaxation time.
4. Do you ever feel like a second class citizen in China? (Andrew Harwell)
Actually, yes. As a non-Chinese person, you stand out and everyone from little kids to old ladies will call you a wai guo ren, or foreigner. Apparently in Chinese it’s not offensive, but it gets old pretty quickly.
5. What was your favorite moment/experience? (Lindsey Tillman, Sandy Foglietta)
I think the two best moments have both been on trips. I really loved hiking through Zhangjiajie National Park with Alex and then discovering Huashan Mountain when my parents visited. China is a beautiful, huge country and there’s so much more to see than just the Great Wall.
6. What will you take away from this experience? What will you miss most? (Elizabeth Kolakoski)
Chopstick skills!!! They are so much better than a fork. And better knowledge of Chinese food like cou leng mian. But seriously, the best takeaway is I’ve the friendships I’ve made with my Chinese and Western coworkers, and I know I’ll miss them.
7. Did you find it difficult being so far away from family and friends? (Lorraine Bailey)
At times it was hard, but we were lucky to have people visit us throughout the year. Also, technology is great, so keeping in touch was definitely possible with a little work. Overall, I think now is the best time to live abroad because travelling and communication is so fast and efficient.
8.What was your most Christ like moment where you’ve felt closest to God while there? (Walt Seirengowski)
Before I answer, let me just say that this year has been kind of hard as a Christian because it’s the longest I’ve been without church. Sure– Alex, Carson and I have had Bible studies– but it doesn’t replace a larger church family. But, that being said, we’ve both had opportunities to talk with our coworkers about what we believe. I think my best moment was at a wine bar after work, and Alex’s was at the internet cafe playing LoL with his coworkers. The work culture is definitely non-Christian, but I think we’ve been able to show people what a Christian looks like in that environment.
9. What is one thing you wish you would have known before going to China? (Jacob Apelt)
I wish I had researched the different areas of Beijing better. We live in an area called Lishuiqiao Nan which is a big commuter area with a low cost of living. It’s fine, but in retrospect there are definitely cooler areas that would have been more interesting and convenient to live in like the Lama Temple area or Dongzhimen.
10. a. How often does one of your fingers get stuck in Chinese finger traps? b. Is it difficult to find regular checkerboards or are they all Chinese checkers? c. How accurate is Mulan? (Garrett Greer)
a. To date, exactly 0 times. b. Unless you’re an old man, you’re not playing any kind of checkers. If you are an old man, you’re more likely to be gambling on poker by the side of the road. c. No kid here remembers Mulan, you better “Let It Go” because Frozen is all that matters.