Getting Learnt: Greetings from Beijing! (五)



~ Today’s Mandarin Lesson ~
character: 五 | pinyin: wǔ | definition: five | pronunciation: woo
character: 好 | pinyin: hǎo | definition: good | pronunciation: how
character: 学生 | pinyin: xuéshēng | definition: student | pronunciation: shwayshung

Exciting news: I have begun taking Mandarin lessons!

I love languages, and try to learn as much of the mother tongue as possible for any area I visit. It’s been a challenge living in a country where very few people speak English, turning normally menial tasks into daunting ones.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting a better handle on this language that is totally different from my own. Classes meet for 7.5 hours each week, so hopefully by the time I come back to the states I will have enough skills to converse successfully with a toddler. Wish me luck 🙂

Now, for your reading pleasure, here are some more interesting things I’ve learned about China whilst residing here.

  • They. Love. Plastic. The extent of which single use plastic is consumed here is actually terrifying. I truly don’t think locals understand this is a problem, which frightens me further. Now, I admit I am on the extreme other end of the spectrum – I use beeswax wrap instead of plastic, have washable neoprene snack bags, wipe off tinfoil to use again, keep reusable bags in my car, you get the picture – but over here it is obscene. Reusable shopping bags are not a thing, and the first time we asked a store clerk to put goods in our tote, we were regarded as if we had sprouted tentacles from our eyeballs. We have been rinsing and reusing the plastic bags forced upon us, and they definitely think we are weird Americans, but oh well. Kyle plans on starting a discussion about this during one of his Environmental Economics classes and I am extremely proud.


  • Food is phenomenal. I really love food in general, but in Beijing it is delicious and SO CHEAP… and we’re living in the capital! Later I will do an entire post dedicated to the epicness that is cuisine over here (spoiler alert: “chinese” food in the U.S. is a joke), so I won’t go into specifics now. To get an idea about cost though, we spend less than $5 on average for both of us for any given meal where we live. The most expensive meal we’ve had so far was a “$$$$, Michelin star quality” extremely fancy restaurant – they put seat covers over our coats and gave us hot hand towels before the meal – and we spent $120, total. It’s worth noting that we also ordered a bottle of nice wine. We dine like kings on the budgets of peasants. It rules!!


  • Physical activity is important (and funny). This should be a no-brainer, but the sad truth is that back in the states, not many people take this seriously. Over here, regular physical activity is the norm, but their workouts are also kind of hilarious. My office window overlooks the campus track, field, and fitness area, and it gives me immense pleasure to watch the locals do their daily exercises. The idea of running in workout clothes hasn’t really caught on, so you see a lot of people running in their puffy winter coats and jeans; some people are even in full-on business attire. They also do some strange group activities that are too bizarre to put into words, and the kung fu and karate chops are just how you see in the movies. As much as I like to poke fun, I really do admire their habits.

As a sign off, here is a picture of a plant Kyle bought for our place. We can’t bring it back home due to custom regulations, but Kyle really loves it, so if anyone is able to identify it, please let me know so I can buy him a new one when we get back! Also note the green space outside the window, that’s the track/field.

About azuremarie

I'm Azure; a healthy dose of eccentricity best taken with a grain of salt. I am often described as sassy. I have a fondness for words and those who can twist them in their mouth to create something exquisite. I read a lot, delight in live music, have a mild obsession with honey bees, and am baller at boggle. I believe that being normal is boring and love bright colors. Oftentimes, I prefer the company of animals to people; particularly dogs and horses, but have recently joined team cat. I love to travel and learn. I want to be able to experience our world, as well as help it. Oh, and unicorns exist.

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