Every summer during the years I lived in Beijing with my family of five was always the same: leave for the USA with five suitcases and five carry-ons, and come back with ten 50-pound suitcases and 15 carry-ons.
I think most expats in Beijing go through a similar experience at the end of each summer. Yes, it is important to embrace living in Beijing and realize that you can’t replicate your home country here, but let’s be honest: there are some things that you just can’t live without. If Beijing doesn’t do it well or simply doesn’t have it, expats resort to carrying an odd, but very necessary, assortment of items across the globe.
Our summer trips back home also gave me yet another reason to be grateful for my family of five: TEN suitcases allowed on international flights – yes!
Here is a glance at some of the many things that could be found in those stuffed suitcases:
40 pounds of frozen meat
No, that is not a typo. Foreign meat is so much softer and of better quality than the meat produced in China, so we stocked up as much frozen meat and fish as possible. Thank goodness our luggage was never lost…
2 pairs of every shoe in two different sizes
With growing kids, you have to be prepared for the entire year. The checkout clerks always looked as us like we were crazy, but hey, you do what you have to do.
Tide with bleach
As it is definitely one of the most expensive products at Jenny Lou’s, Tide is like powder gold.
Leftover from my summer birthday, we froze the cheesecake and thawed it in February. Nothing like a slice of Cheesecake Factory heaven in the middle of Beijing’s dark winter months.
Foot-operated 15 gallon garbage can
You can get advice from every single expat who has lived in Beijing, but only once you arrive here do you realize exactly what you need. For my family, it was having a big, foot-operated garbage can for the kitchen. None of those tiny, under-the-sink waste bins for us!
Happy shopping everyone!
Photo by KRISTEN TAYLOR (FLICKR)
Leah Sprague is a high school senior and beijingkids’ intern for July. After living in Seattle for two years, Leah is super excited to be back in Beijing, where she lived from 2009-2012. When not at the office, Leah can be found biking or subway-ing around the city, soaking up everything before she leaves again in August.