When having the initial idea to move to China, I enjoyed the prospect of living in a country that was so vastly different from the lifestyle I had in the UK. A year later, I can’t deny this but yet there is something about China, and Beijing in particular, that really seems familiar. You still have access to your home comforts and while things can be challenging, living in Beijing is not as different and challenging as I initially thought. There are lots of things that stop and make you go ‘I can’t believe they have that in China’! I was particularly surprised at the amount of foreign foods, foreign supermarkets, foreign goods that they actually sell in Beijing and how there has been a real effort to make things easier for foreigners travelling or living in Beijing. While the amount of locals that speak English is limited in China, there are lots of things that make living here much easier, particularly if you can’t speak the language. Didi (China’s version of Uber) is all available in English and so you will not have any problem tracking down a taxi, you can even rent a bicycle using the English version of their bicycle renting apps. Even ordering or groceries to your apartment is very easy (they deliver everything you can imagine here including McDonalds, Subway, Costa etc..)!
Also, the network of foreigners here is not difficult to find. There are areas in the centre of Beijing where you find lots of expats who are working and living in Beijing. There are Irish bars and English tea houses which you can go to which make you feel as if you never even left the UK! There are lots of groups which you can join on Wechat (which usually have a central theme, just to name a couple: ‘UK expats living in Beijing’, ‘British Young Professionals’) so that you can get your hair cut by English speakers or go to social networking nights if you want to expand your professional circle with like-minded people who also are living as expats.
Moving in China still has been a step, jump and leap from living in the UK but there are things and people available that don’t completely make the things you love about the UK disappear. Some days you might feel like you don’t want to eat Chinese food or you want to go and watch the football with a pint or have an English cup of tea, all of which you can still do while living in China. It makes you feel proud of where you come from and also proud to have made the decision to move to a new country which is very different from your own.