When we moved here in 2013 with my 8-month-old son and 20-month-old daughter, we were coming out of a desperate financial situation in the US. My husband had been let go of his new carpentry dream job since work had abruptly dried up. We had to borrow money from brand new Beijing friends because our finances were so tight. But I went from one survival mode to another kind, as I grappled with the sights and smells around me that caused culture shock. I was not a fun person to be around, and that first year was very hard for me as I struggled with motherhood to culture shocked toddlers in a neighborhood where no one could even speak my language.
But life got easier financially and emotionally. Beijing has its ups and downs, but for me, this has been the place where I learned to be myself, where I learned to love being a mom, and where I learned I’m actually more comfortable as a city-loving foreigner than as a small town girl stuck in the South. If the pollution clears up as expected in a few years, I could easily see myself calling Beijing home for the rest of my life. I love the people, the culture, the food, the community, and the language.
Life doesn’t have to be hard here; in fact it can be awesome! We put together this guide to help you get over the first hard hurdles of life in Beijing. Whether you came here on the now elusive expat package, have plans to start a business, or now counting your fifth year here, we tried to fit something in for you. As a sum, our number one piece of advice is get involved so you’ve got something to do rain, snow, haze, or shine.
We also wanted to incorporate the city’s bountiful school pride, and so asked students to submit artwork to illustrate our articles. For more tips about picking the right school, we suggest you look online at our School Choice Guide and our website for years of great advice.
Celebrating 10 Years with beijingkids
In March 2007, tbjkids went from a quarterly to a monthly magazine, marking the birth of beijingkids. Cate Conmy was managing editor at the time of this transition, and she told us she got to essentially dream up the whole publication! “I was exhausted and energized all at once. I think this was when I got my first gray hair.” Conmy was young and childless while managing editor but is now in San Francisco with her “extremely loquacious two-year-old.” Right now she is trying to decide whether to get back to working in the museum field or become a preschool teacher for the opportunity to constantly relive those lovely toddler days.
This article originally appeared on p 6 of beijingkids May Issue Home & Relocation Guide. Download a copy here.