[Wrote this at the end of last week, only uploading it now]
My first week in Beijing… has now come and gone. This time last week I was getting ready to head to the airport, with my heart the heaviest it has ever been.
I figured it’s because I have been back home since graduating abroad many years back, and have never quite worked overseas for a long(er) period. I do consider myself an independent girl, but I am still a close knit-family person and I suppose it only makes some sense that I will miss home.
Although it’s been a week, I still can’t quite believe that I am here. I mean, it hasn’t quite sunk in just yet. Maybe I have been psyching my mind to sort of ‘tone down’ my move here, to reduce expectations, and just take each day as it comes. This is a vast contrast to how I felt before I left home – I was worrying so much prematurely about so many things! Thinking back, it was pretty hilarious.
I suppose first things first, I just wanted to say – everything has gone by smoothly so far!
Initially, I was concerned about many uncertainties: job expectations, my translation standards, video editing (part of our scope here and I haven’t attempted), budgeting expenses, etc. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have spent time worrying so unnecessarily. Not even when I have never worked in a TV station before.
My first day here went by in a rush. Landed at 6 am, and didn’t anticipate the queue at immigration to be THAT long (close to two hours I reckon). A colleague greeted me and picked me up, and we went to settle stuff like getting a local SIM card and opening a bank account done. Barely had time to wash up and I took the subway (for the first time!) to office. Had a HR policy mini briefing and I was introduced to my producer – who was so nice and kindly brought me around to meet others who are around.
At the end of the first day, I was completely knackered. Didn’t sleep in the plane the night before — you can imagine.
Everyone has been so helpful and hospitable so far!
My team mates have eagerly extended their welcome wishes and help should I need them, one has gone through the systems processes with me, also the company has arranged someone to accompany me for my medical check (relieved I didn’t have to re-do the whole process and could use my Malaysia’s one as it’s just days before the 6 months validity ends).
The locals acknowledge they do treat foreigners better.
And admittedly, I do still feel a bit foreign being referred to as a foreigner if that makes sense haha. I mean, I am one, but I don’t look like one. Plus, I don’t sound like a Westerner. So what does that make me?
That said, it IS a huge advantage if you’re able to speak Mandarin here. I didn’t realize the importance and usefulness of it, until I needed the language not just to get me around, but to also be in the loop of things (although WeChat has a translate function…).
And of course, by understanding the language, it also helps to learn one’s culture better. (So, thank you papa and mummy for sending me to a Chinese primary school and to a public speaking class as well).
Over here, my colleagues call me anything from my name Lynn, to 惠莲, 小谭, 马妹 (one of them). This reminds me of my time in Yingkou, Liaoning, 6 years back when my peers then also called me the same thing. It was my first taste of China then. Good times.
In terms of the workplace itself, it is magnificent. The building? I was, still am, and will still be (for however long), in awe. From afar, which I got to see yesterday in the CBD, it looks – WOW. A landmark on its very own.
As if the city and my horrible sense of direction isn’t enough to take-in already, I also now have the building – with its two towers and various offices/ floors – to figure out as well. Thousands steps a day, if I may!
This is on top of my colleagues’ names (so many!) and various WeChat groups… all in Mandarin. Thankfully – I consider my memory good with names and have been okay so far with remembering most, if not all, of them.
Observations thus far
Wanna save money and know more? Mingle with the locals. When you speak to some overseas people, they will say cost of living is high. But from my few conversations with some locals (and they may not necessarily be from BJ), they will say it’s pretty “cheap”, highest is of course rent. But food, clothes! 超棒.
And you guys may already know this but no one really carries cash here. I used WeChat pay on the second day, thanks to my colleague who picked me for the medical check. She’s IT savvy and helped download some other useful apps for me as well. Even in convenience stores and all, the cashier seemed quite surprised if I choose to pay by cash.
Also, Chinese really love their emojis or emoticons. They almost reply anything with that. And apparently, the emoticon I always use – the smiley face – is hardly used here. Another colleague shared with me (no harm intended, of course) and ooh, ok, I will use the other more common ones next time! Haha.
And, while most here are educated abroad, they still feel most comfortable speaking Mandarin. My WeChat groups are mostly (if not all) in Mandarin — workflow, discussions, video editing software, etc. The commonly used terms, normalities, etc. But really, it is beautiful to be reading and replying in Mandarin.
In terms of formalities, most seem to call one another (or at least, the seemingly more senior one) 老师. Unless he or she is a director, you refer as 主任.
And in conversations, for example, like instead of 很 or 非常, they use ‘挺’, although the meaning varies slightly. Northern or Beijingers also tend to add ‘er’ to their last word in a sentence. Like, 你下班-er 了不?
Food delivery is huge here. In fact, everything delivery. I was told about this by two Malaysians hahaha. One who has been working here for over 2 years (introduced by a friend WS), and a parents (who so kindly introduced me other apps too and to keep body moisturized)…deliver household goods, groceries, fruits all to their place. Really pampered to the max, I tell you. Lol.
Oh, and the colleague who picked me up, one of her names (沁) is part of the title a poem Mao Ze Dong created called 沁园春·雪.
There is just something to learn from everyone – be it what apps to use, how best to do something, etc. (Learned this from my mom – always so willing and open to learn and share thereon)
Transport! Many colleagues bike to office… you’ll see plenty of OFO and Mobikes around. But no thanks for me. I can ride a bicycle leisurely but not in the city. Don’t wanna be bumping into anyone or anything. Didi would be much more preferable though I have yet to try it (though I have downloaded and registered).
Also, pretty quirky that bags are being x-rayed in subway stations here.
Finally, Beijing in Autumn is the best, I have been told countless times by many. Of course, blue skies greeted me when I landed. And for (only) 3 solid days it was clear.
I am still taking it one at a time without thinking too much. To also sort of fit-in with how things work around here.
I worried too much prior, thinking if I will perform. Problem about me is I want to know everything and get comfortable pronto – systems, software, operations, workflow, etc. But these take time. I want to learn to enjoy the process instead.
Apartment hunting! The AirBnb I am at now is at an awesome location convenience wise – took me over a week to get something, but I made the right choice. Just 2-3 mins walk to the subway stop! My endless conversations with the host also enabled me to feel comforted that my choice is right…
Gosh this sounds like a diary post. Haha. I really LOVE to talk.
Till the next time, everyone ❤