Adjusting to life in China: Little by little, I’m at home in Beijing

It's easy to adjust to the serenity and natural beauty of the Tsinghua University campus.

It’s easy to adjust to the serenity and natural beauty of the Tsinghua University campus.

Little by little, there are signs that I’m adjusting to life in China. I still speak terrible Chinese, but I’m making (slow) progress. Some other signs point to a shorter-than-expected period of adjustment in my new country. A few examples:

  • At my apartment, I’m eating more meals  with chopsticks than with forks, knives or spoons.
  • I take the subway and wander the streets of Beijing without fear of getting lost.
  • I venture off campus on my bicycle into the chaotic swirl of Chinese traffic.
  • I add money to my subway fare card without the help of my Teaching Assistant.

    I can take subway line #2 clockwise or counterclockwise and not get lost.

    I can take subway line #10 clockwise or counterclockwise and not get lost.

  • I price things in yuan and don’t convert to dollars anymore.
  • I leave my passport at home when I go out.
  • I don’t get upset when the Internet connection is really slooooooooooooooooooow. Like the Texas weather, just wait an hour and it’ll change.
  • I don’t get upset when a car is driving down the wrong side of the road and appears to be heading straight for my bike.
  • I’m posting on Weibo as often as on Twitter.
  • I’m beginning to understand the difference between the four Chinese speech tones.
  • I’m beginning to understand a few street signs. In Chinese.
  • I’m starting to get the hang of sign language. Or maybe charades.
  • I’m starting to think it’s normal to ride your bike after dark without any lights.
  • I’m starting to say “ni hao” to people rather than “hello.” (With Caroline Ward, it’s still “ni howdy!”)
  • I can introduce myself as “DOO-NUH REE-KUH” rather than “RICK DUNHAM.” (I’ll pass along my real Chinese name when my colleagues show me the spelling.)
  • I don’t check the Internet every day to see what’s happened to the Phillies … or Nats … or Eagles … or Redskins.
  • I come home every night and turn on CCTV in English to discover what good deeds President Xi has done today. And what’s new in Turkmenistan.
  • I thank my lucky stars that I took this job.

One Comment on “Adjusting to life in China: Little by little, I’m at home in Beijing”

  1. […] Adjusting to life in China: Little by little, I’m at home in Beijing (rickdunhamblog.com) […]


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