Our Beckoned to Beijing series continues with Behanka Trompeter, who hails from South Africa and is the mother of two proud British School of Beijing (BSB) students, Kaelyn (age 11) and Reagon (9). She tells us about her love of Chinese e-commerce and delivery services, what logistical challenges her family has faced, why Philips is the best air purifier for her family, and more.
Our family moved to Beijing from South Africa after my husband, Ralf Trompeter, was afforded an opportunity to work within a joint venture between Beijing Mercedes and Daimler.
Beijing has surprised me because there is so much to see and do, so much to learn. This is a country of many different types of people and cultures, who embrace their differences.
There have been some awful pollution days, and then there have been days where the sun shines and you can see the mountains. Those are happy days. I also like that Beijing is clean and people are friendly. You are not seen as being "different" because you are an expat.
For an air purifier we chose Philips. It’s really good, not too expensive, keeps the air clean, and is also a humidifier. This comes in very handy in the winter with the heating system.
We have also been surprised by how internet delivery services work so well. Being able to pick up the telephone, with the help of a Chinese friend, and have things are delivered to your front door, in good time, is fantastic.
The biggest logistical challenge that our family has faced in Beijing is traveling to and from places. The time it takes to travel is tiring, the driving conditions are also quite scary, so it takes a lot of getting used to.
Shopping can also be challenging. When you need to buy food in a supermarket, order a meal or buy an outfit in a mall, English is very limited. It can be quite frustrating.
There are many benefits in Beijing for my children. Learning how different places and cultures work, the wonderful school system, friendships that will last a lifetime, learning Mandarin and learning about Chinese culture are just a few examples.
We chose to enroll our children at BSB because of its diversity, its teaching methods, and its cultural and sport activities. They also have an amazing music programme that allows the children to learn many different instruments. Our children are also getting to see Beijing with the residential trips. They have climbed leaps and bounds in the British school system. Its subject material and teaching methods are some of the best, and we would definitely choose them again!
Our family’s medical needs are best serviced by International SOS and Beijing United (Shunyi) Family Hospital. You receive rapid response when making appointments with them. Also, their doctors and nursing staff are kind and friendly, and understand all our needs well. They respond to queries via email and send updates on your treatment.
My advice for other South Africans coming to Beijing is: be prepared for the unexpected, embrace each moment, learn the language as soon as you can and encourage your children and ayi to speak in Chinese with you. Get out as much as possible. For the Mom’s, get into the Mommy circles, and get a hobby for those bad weather days.
Photos: Courtesy Behanka Trompeter.