I couldn’t even try to guess the number of times I get stared at on a daily basis. Whenever you ride the metro as a foreigner, you are bound to be stared at by at least one person. They think they are being so sly and look away if you look at them, but in reality, it’s really obvious since it often comes with their mouth hanging open as if I’m an alien. This look gets better when they find out you can speak Chinese.
I’ve caught some people talking about me, saying “foreigner” or “beautiful woman”. One time, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing after they started talking about how my face is so thin and my eyes are so big, and then they realized I could understand them. They were shocked that I was reading a book in English on my phone. Shortly after gaining the confidence to try and say the English they knew, they said “You are beautiful” and then “How are you?” Those were the only two phrases they knew. Ha it surely made my day.
Now my roommates are both black and have told me countless of stories about their experiences. One of them doesn’t have much Chinese language background, but she’s quickly learned the word for hair because everyone talks about her hair. The other one gets free fruit at the same fruit stand I go to (but I never get free fruit…).
Although this is normally not the case because they think that foreigners have more money, especially American so they try to charge us more. Be careful when going to a restaurant, sometimes the English menu has higher prices than the Chinese menu.
But going back to staring, it’s inevitable if you are a foreigner in Beijing no matter how long you have lived there. I've just learned to smile at them, most of the time it gets them to stop staring.
The dating scene here is very prevalent, but it is not the same as the United States. It is important for couples to settle down and have a child before the age of 30. If they haven't, then they have a huge pressure from their parents to do so.
The guy to girl ratio is off because of the culture wanting to have a boy rather than a girl. With that being said, the man take care of their woman very well. One example is by having the man carry her bag no matter what the size of the bag is. So many guys do this that to me it looks like it's the guy’s purse!
The end goal for these couples is to have a child together. To my knowledge, there really isn’t much divorce here. They do everything they can for this child. After they get married, the woman will typically move in with the man’s family, which then creates instant babysitters of the man’s parents!
Every day, I see grandparents hanging out outside with their grandkids and the neighbors grandkids just to have some outdoor time with them. Each hour it seems like there is a different age group of kids congregated out there.
6. Slums & Skyscrapers
The layout of the city seems really planned out, but when walking around there isn't really a "ghetto" or an area of slums. The slums just get mixed in with the skyscrapers. For example, right next to our apartment building, you can see an alley of traditional run-down Chinese houses where people still live.
I have started being accustomed to seeing so many tall buildings since I have a pretty awesome view outside my apartment, but at the same time, I have gotten used to seeing just as many nice cars. Whether it is Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, etc. I see them driving around my area each and every day.
At the same time, I see people begging for money on the metro, outside the metro, on bridges, anywhere basically. There is one man that has made the walking bridge his home even in the winter. It’s tough to see each and every day but I don’t have the means to help him out more than just some spare change or a nice warm cup of hot chocolate.
I know that this type of socioeconomic spread happens everywhere, but I just wish that people would share their wealth more. With Christmas coming up and all the gifting people are doing, it makes me realize how I don’t care about these material things. All the nice cars and brand name products like hand bags, cosmetics and clothes could never make me happy. All I want for Christmas is to continue exploring. I love seeing how others live their lives and hopefully positively influence others to cherish the little things.
With that being said, I hope everyone has a happy holiday season! If you are fortunate enough to be with your family, loved ones or friends, cherish those moments as not everyone can experience that.
Wrapping these last two posts up, I just want you all to know that every day in China something crazy happens to me, but you cannot describe the Chinese experience better than the author did at the end. "Stories of ricksaw drivers, of baijiu, of tonal mishaps, of being ripped off, of babies defecating on the street, of those euphoric moments where living in China for this brief period was worth it. You won't regret it."