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FIRST EDITION 2011

THE ESSENTIALS GUIDE BEIJING W W W.B R ITIS H S C H OOL.ORG.CN


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THE ESSENTIALS GUIDE BEIJING

Essentials Guide Beijing 1st Edition Copyright Š The British School of Beijing 2011 All Rights Reserved Chief Editor - Travis Murray Managing Editor - Laura Westley Primary Design - Shanghai Yang Ma Advertising Secondary Design - Elliot Richards Primary Copywriting - Tom Bewick Secondary Copywriting - Travis Murray, Mike Embley, Laura Westley Proofreading - Aelred Doyle While every possible effort has been taken to ensure that the facts contained within this guide are accurate, The British School of Beijing cannot accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions that this guide may contain. No part of this guide may be reproduced, or distributed by electronic means or any other without the prior permission of The British School of Beijing.


CONTENTS

PREPARING TO GO

20 26 32 34 38 40 46

HISTORY PEOPLE & CULTURE LANGUAGE GEOGRAPHY CLIMATE ADMINISTRATIVE PREPARATIONS BOOKS, FILMS & MUSIC

WHEN YOU ARRIVE

54 58 64 66 70 74 84

LANDING GETTING AROUND MONEY & BANKING GETTING CONNECTED HEALTH CARE TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION FINDING HOUSING

88 92 94 98 108

GETTING SETTLED CULTURE SHOCK EMBASSIES EDUCATION EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT

LIVING IN BEIJING

134 140 144 150 158 164 170 180 206

HEALTH & WELLNESS PRACTISING RELIGION EATING & DRINKING SHOPPING TOURIST ATTRACTIONS FAMILY ACTIVITIES GETTING INVOLVED BEIJING NEIGHBOURHOODS MAPS


Introduction

T

here is no easy way to prepare for a place like Beijing. There is simply nothing else like it in the world. Beijing is a dynamic, vibrant, inspiring and cosmopolitan metropolis. Most expats reveal experiencing an overall feeling that ‘this is where things are happening’. At the same time, Beijing is one of the world’s most historically and culturally rich cities, with six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and over 2,000 years of history. Beijing surprises newcomers with its lasting beauty and street level charm amid alarmingly rapid growth.


The charm lies in the city’s ancient cultural and architectural roots, combined with its unrelenting drive into the future. Although an outsider will always be a laowai (foreigner), the people of Beijing are welcoming. Look forward to good friendships and respectable business relationships with local people.


B

eijing has a way of luring people in and keeping them. Be prepared to hear from expats and Chinese alike that they came to Beijing to work or study years ago, and then couldn’t bring themselves to leave, even after experiencing the August heat and January freeze.


L

iving and working in Beijing means amazing career opportunities, exciting language challenges and cultural immersion. You can enjoy food from all over Asia, mingle in a large and diverse expatriate community and be a part of the fastest-growing economy in the world. However, this also comes with frustrations. Beijing is crowded, noisy and chaotic.


People push on the subway. The air quality is low. Adjusting to a new language, a new culture and a new government can be frustrating. Acclimating to a vastly different environment takes time, patience, flexibility and a good sense of humour.


Beijing Essentials Guide is designed to help you T hisprepare for Beijing, and settle in once you get there. Despite its challenges, Beijing is an easy place to live as an expat. It has world-class hospitals, Western-standard accommodation and high-quality accredited international schools. Newcomers can find countless cultural events, interest groups and organisations to make Beijing become a home away from home.


PREPARING TO GO


PREPARING PREPARING TO TO GO GO

CONTENTS

HISTORY

20

PEOPLE & CULTURE

26

LANGUAGE

32

GEOGRAPHY

34

CLIMATE

38

ADMINISTRATIVE PREPARATIONS

40

BOOKS, FILMS & MUSIC

46

Preparing to go will be as much a mental journey as it will be a practical one. Understanding more about the dramatically different culture you are about to encounter will help prepare you for the experience. You can read a book or watch a movie we recommend or you can engage in your own research. Either way, the process will reward you. The practical aspects of preparation are of course vital to ensuring that your journey begins on a positive note. This section will help you prepare on both fronts.

19 THE ESSENTIALS GUIDE BEIJING


WHEN YOU ARRIVE


WHEN YOU ARRIVE PREPARING TO GO

CONTENTS LANDING

54

GETTING AROUND

58

MONEY & BANKING

64

GETTING CONNECTED

66

HEALTH CARE

70

TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION

74

FINDING HOUSING

84

GETTING SETTLED

88

CULTURE SHOCK

92

EMBASSIES

94

EDUCATION

98

EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT

108

At first, Beijing can feel overwhelming. Uprooting and travelling over multiple time zones is a strain on the constitution. To then have to navigate a gigantic, crowded and confusing city in a foreign language is altogether exhausting. If you can, take adequate time to adjust and get your bearings. Take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and rested during the first few weeks in Beijing. Besides eating well and becoming accustomed to a new sleeping pattern, make an effort to exercise and socialise with other expats. These measures will accelerate the adjustment to your new environment, alleviate stress and prevent the feeling of isolation that often accompanies the initial period in a new city and country. Keep in mind that as time passes, things will become more familiar, and things that seem impossible now will morph into routine. There are exciting things to do and see in Beijing, but first, it is important to take care of the necessities and learn the ropes. This section is designed to provide resources and orientation for new arrivals, laying the foundation for exploring and getting to know Beijing as a new resident.

53 THE ESSENTIALS GUIDE BEIJING


LIVING IN BEIJING


WHEN IN YOU ARRIVE PREPARING TO GO LIVING BEIJING

CONTENTS

HEALTH & WELLNESS

134

PRACTISING RELIGION

140

EATING & DRINKING

144

SHOPPING

150

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

158

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

164

GETTING INVOLVED

170

BEIJING NEIGHBOURHOODS

180

Once you have found your new home, settled in and enrolled your kids in a good school, life in Beijing begins. Those elements that comprise the quality of life that you are used to are for the most part available in Beijing. In many ways your quality of life may increase. In Beijing you will have access to a new world of possibilities including sumptuous and affordable massages, world-class shopping and fun and interesting activities to enjoy with your loved ones. This section will help guide you through the basics of living and enjoying your life in Beijing. The information and advice offered here is only the beginning, however. Beyond the borders of this book, you will find many hidden treasures that will surprise and amaze you while at the same time broadening your understanding of one of the oldest civilisations on earth.

133 THE ESSENTIALS GUIDE BEIJING


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The Essentials Guide Beijing