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kongli

Help Me Find The Positive In Beijing.

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kongli

I will be attending school in Beijing this September. I have been to Beijing a couple times before and though it seemed like a cool enough city for travel, I doubt I will like living there very much. THe only things I can think of are 1. bad pollution 2. HUGE city 3. Horrible traffic 4. lots of foreigners with lots of money 5. Insanely Expensive rent 6. Generally more expensive goods than China's second and third tier cites. 7. NEW NEW NEW everything followed by fake old stuff.

Clearly all of the things listed above are, at least to me, downsides. Can anyone who lives or has lived in Beijing please give some things to look forward to? Do you like Beijing? What do you like about it?

Thanks!

KingLi

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Erbse

Why didn't you choose a different city? You know what you want, so make your choice accordingly.

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roddy

8. People moaning about how rubbish the city is.

I've fallen in and out of love with Beijing a few times, but right now I'm really enjoying the city. I'm not going to go through your points one by one, but they're all either not that bad, livable with, or avoidable if you make careful choices about where you live, who you spend time with, etc.

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greenarcher

1. Air conditions have been gradually improving through recent years. Given the scorching summer heat, I would rather have haze than clear blue skies to at least lessen the intensity of the sun.

2. Yes it is indeed huge and getting from opposite ends of the city can be time consuming.

3. Not as horrible as I thought. I have been here for 2 semesters and never experienced being stuck in a traffic jam. I've had worse in my country.

4. Does this matter? I don't see how this affects you.

5. There's always the dorm. If Beijing is too expensive, go to another city.

6. Something you would expect from living in the capital. There are still cheap goods if you know where to go. The subway and bus are dirt cheap. The taxi is also cheap compared to Hong Kong.

7. I wouldn't say "fake" old stuff, the old places are still nice and majestic unless you would rather see them torn up in pieces. The "new stuff" gives you an alternative if you get tired of the old. This is what I love about Beijing, you can choose between old and new; unlike Shanghai and less-developed cities where you only have 1 choice.

My only complaint is the food; northern cuisine which dominates Beijing sucks. But now that I know where to get southern food, it's not much of a problem anymore. If cost is your primary concern, Beijing may not be for you. Don't live in a city which doesn't appeal to you.

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kongli

I got a scholarship to go to school there, and the University is one that is known for the field of study I want to go into. So that is why I am going to Beijing.

8. People moaning about how rubbish the city is.

I've fallen in and out of love with Beijing a few times, but right now I'm really enjoying the city. I'm not going to go through your points one by one, but they're all either not that bad, livable with, or avoidable if you make careful choices about where you live, who you spend time with, etc.

Haha, okay that's fair. But I don't mean to complain about the city, just listing some relatively objective facts that I see as not so good.

I just wanted some positive feedback about the city so I can have a more open mind. Thank you for your reply. I suppose it all does come down to what your doing, where your doing it, and who your doing it with. So I figure I should be fine.

1. Air conditions have been gradually improving through recent years. Given the scorching summer heat, I would rather have haze than clear blue skies to at least lessen the intensity of the sun.

2. Yes it is indeed huge and getting from opposite ends of the city can be time consuming.

3. Not as horrible as I thought. I have been here for 2 semesters and never experienced being stuck in a traffic jam. I've had worse in my country.

4. Does this matter? I don't see how this affects you.

More the idea of there being a lot of foreigners, less to do with economics. But yes, I suppose that doesn't really effect me either.

5. There's always the dorm. If Beijing is too expensive, go to another city.

6. Something you would expect from living in the capital. There are still cheap goods if you know where to go. The subway and bus are dirt cheap. The taxi is also cheap compared to Hong Kong.

7. I wouldn't say "fake" old stuff, the old places are still nice and majestic unless you would rather see them torn up in pieces. The "new stuff" gives you an alternative if you get tired of the old. This is what I love about Beijing, you can choose between old and new; unlike Shanghai and less-developed cities where you only have 1 choice.

Yea, I guess I have just been reading to much about the (de)construction in Beijing and other Chinese cities. A lot of what people think is 'old' really isn't that old. But this can be said for many Chinese cities.

My only complaint is the food; northern cuisine which dominates Beijing sucks. But now that I know where to get southern food, it's not much of a problem anymore. If cost is your primary concern, Beijing may not be for you. Don't live in a city which doesn't appeal to you.

Yea, I wasn't terribly impressed with the food when I was there. But I suppose the good thing about China is the huge amount of rural migrants from different parts of the city and some set up restaurants. So it is pretty easy to find different dishes from different places.

Cool to read that thread that was linked. Provides me with a better point of view.

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eatfastnoodle

you sound like a zen-loving, karma-believing hippie, always searching for mumble-jumble like positive energy. if you hate it so much, don't go; if you love it, go; if you hate it yet there is something else you can only get there, then by all means suck it up and pay the price. I don't think things can be simpler than that. it's about your attitude and perspective than anything else. so if somebody tells you this or that of beijing is awesome, so what? does it mean you will find this or that equally awesome? no, it doesn't. you may or may not like it but you won't find out until you actually experience it. in any case, it's about your degree, it's not about whether or not you like beijing, isn't it?

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kongli

you sound like a zen-loving, karma-believing hippie, always searching for mumble-jumble like positive energy. if you hate it so much, don't go; if you love it, go; if you hate it yet there is something else you can only get there, then by all means suck it up and pay the price. I don't think things can be simpler than that. it's about your attitude and perspective than anything else. so if somebody tells you this or that of beijing is awesome, so what? does it mean you will find this or that equally awesome? no, it doesn't. you may or may not like it but you won't find out until you actually experience it. in any case, it's about your degree, it's not about whether or not you like beijing, isn't it?

t

You are correct, I will not know exactly what life will be like until I am there and in school and actual experiencing the city for myself. I am going because I know it will, no matter what, be an amazing experience. I just wanted some people to post some positive (oops that's too hippie, let me rephrase) 'redeeming' qualities that Beijing has to offer. The thread that someone posted above was quite helpful for that. Yours, on the other hand, not so much.

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roddy

To expand, as you seem a bit less whiny now . . .

1) Beijing's air is as good now as it's been in the . . . wow, 12 years . . .since I first visited. You can have bad days, but there are less of them and they're less bad. That said, this is one of the things you can't change, and if it bothers you it's a fair reason for staying away. But don't assume a smaller city will be any better - you may find that there are fewer regulations keeping polluting vehicles of the streets, there may be even more dust from construction, etc.

2) You definitely want to live, work and play as close together as possible - live in Wukesong, study in Wudaokou and drink in Sanlitun? No chance. I would aim to have at least two of live, work and play within walking distance of each other.

3) Traffic's better, but it's still not great. See 2, and make full use of the incredible expanding subway system

4) Hey, I'm not that bad.

5) Hardly insane. If you can't afford it live somewhere cheaper. This is not a rule exclusive to Beijing.

6) See 5.

7) If you want to look into study opportunities in Pingyao or Kaifeng, good luck. For me a part of Beijing isn't just the old, but also the full-scale assault the whole place is launching on the future. It's exciting.

Beijing's a hell of a city. I sometimes liken it to an abusive relationship. She'll slap you about sometimes with a shitty taxi ride and broken promises of rain and you know you should leave. But then she'll say she's sorry with the sword dancers you walked past to get to the delicious cappuccino, or you'll find yourself passing red walls in that evening light that I swear only Beijing gets, and you're sure she means it.

China has lots of cities, and Beijing might not be the best for you. But it ain't that bad.

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kongli

Thanks for the reply.

I laughed at number 5, you are right. Also, I know that rent in Beijing is far cheaper than compared to other big cities around the world, but I guess having all my Chinese friends saying "You going to Beijing? Damn that's gonna be expensive to live there..." all the time has kind of worn on me. Plus, I just graduated, have no summer job, and am living at my parents house until the scholarship materials come through......you'd be a little whiney too.

Anyway, Thanks again.

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jbradfor

I just graduated, have no summer job, and am living at my parents house until the scholarship materials come through......you'd be a little whiney too.

Actually, no I wouldn't.

I'd be excited as all heck to be able to live in Beijing for a year. Frankly, if you're feeling whiny and sorry for yourself, given the opportunity you've been given, someone should reach out and slap you through your computer monitor until you realize how great this is. OF COURSE some aspects will be less-than-perfect. But if you only focus on those aspects, you will have a miserable time, and it will be all your fault.

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kongli

Well just my attempt at humor, sorry it fell on deaf ears.

I am nowhere near feeling sorry for myself, and I can't really see where in this thread as I come off with that type of attitude. I was simply asking, after listing some things that I see as downsides to Beijing, for people to post some nice things about the city. But I get called whiney, a hippie (Not really sure where that came from), and marked as feeling sorry for myself. Actually, I am extremely thankful and happy to get the chance to do grad school in China on a full scholarship and I worked very hard during my undergrad in order to get that chance.

When I said "I doubt I will like living there" I meant as far as the logistics of the city itself. Socially and academically I know I will have an amazing time and can't wait to go.

Anyways, perhaps I should have just posted "What are some things you all enjoy about Beijing?" and maybe I would have been spared the judgements and hostile attitudes.

Thanks to those who actually listed what they enjoy about the city.

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anonymoose

1. bad pollution 2. HUGE city 3. Horrible traffic 4. lots of foreigners with lots of money 5. Insanely Expensive rent 6. Generally more expensive goods than China's second and third tier cites. 7. NEW NEW NEW everything followed by fake old stuff.

I have to concur with you. I think you will have a very miserable time there.

1. Yes, though the pollution is getting better (allegedly), that of course is only relative to how it was before. You will still probably find yourself choking on the streets on most days, but the good side is that, when you've been through a couple of sandstorms, you'll learn to appreciate just the usual pollution.

2. Yes, by the time you've commuted from one side of the city to the other, you'll already be tired and wanting to go home. And of course when you're out late at night and the public transport has stopped, you'll have to pay that much more to get back by taxi.

3. Yes, the traffic is a big headache for the authorities in Beijing, especially as the number of cars is still growing rapidly. At least if you're a student, though, you may be able to avoid the rushhours. After all, students don't usually get up till midday.

4. Yes, this can definitely induce psychological pressure and a feeling of inferiority. The best solution to this, though, is just to stay away from said foreigners. Oh, and you'll probably find that the number of rich Chinese people is even more.

5. Yes, if you want to live anywhere decent, the rent will definitely be insanely insane. But on the plus side, there tends to be quite a range of accomodation available, so if you are willing to live in a small appartment in a 1960s building on the 6th floor with no lift, you should be able to find something that won't break the bank.

6. Yes, but I think the same could be said for any country. I'm sure it's still better than living in London or New York.

7. Yes, NEW will definitely make you feel like you're in the middle of a cultural wasteland, and unfortunately all the old stuff being major tourist draws will always be so crowded as to lose any feeling of cultural authenticity that they should have. But the positive side is that, with the pollution, you won't be able to see much around you on most days anyway, which leaves you the freedom to imagine that you are in any environment you want to be in.

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gato

Most of the negative things you mentioned are true. Most people who end up liking Beijing like it because of friends they have made there, so your mileage may vary.

What are you going to be studying?

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GreenArrow45

I don't know how well you handle overseas for a year +, but, Beijing is going to have just about anything you could ask for in terms of western amenities. If you've only been there for a month or two at a time, you probably haven't experienced a need for those western goods, but, I am guessing at some point you will miss something from home.

Though, I'd agree with Gato, I ended up liking Beijing because of the friends I made whilst there.

PS - the traffic there is amazing compared to some other cities in China. So I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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Brian US

I love the majestic and whimsical sounds of my roommates or any cab driver's 北京话. Also, as Roddy said, sometimes I like to get slapped around a little.

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jmhcali

1. bad pollution 2. HUGE city 3. Horrible traffic 4. lots of foreigners with lots of money 5. Insanely Expensive rent

Pfff. whiner. We've got all these things in Los Angeles in spades. Actually I think the traffic here is worse, since public transportation isn't a viable option 90% of the time. It takes me about an hour to get from my home to my Chinese class, 10 miles away in the same part of the West Side sprawl.

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Yezze

It takes me about an hour to get from my home to my Chinese class, 10 miles away in the same part of the West Side sprawl.

What method of transportation would that be?

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greenarcher

Can you guys be more specific when you say "annoying" foreigners? Are you referring to students, expats or tourists? How exactly are they annoying?

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