Life in China

So in a comment a while back, Sara of Football and Fried Rice said:

I love it when you post about your “life in China” – what it’s like to go to the market, your apartment, the daily grind. I wonder about small things like where you buy your groceries, what your subway looks like, what you do for entertainment, where do you buy your books? Where is your apartment?

We’ve done a few FAQs in the past, and I always thought it was fun.  So, let’s do it again.  With the temperature hovering at 5 degrees on our walk to and from work, you can be sure I don’t want to spend any more time outside than I must, so writing blogs sounds much more appealing.  So, it’s either this or come up with reasons to be thankful for the winter.

I’ll get this started with answers to Sara’s questions, but let me know if you have more!

Where do we buy groceries?
We buy our groceries in the village mostly.  We can buy staples like flour and rice and milk and yogurt in various small shops and markets in town, and veggies and meat from vendors on the street.  For western groceries (things as simple as cheese or butter), Beijing has some shops called Jenny Lou’s.  You know the Asian market in your home town?  Well this is the western equivalent in China.  The prices are higher than at home, but sometimes a taste of home is worth it.  We also go to a large grocery store that’s about 30 minutes away sometimes… it’s crazy and hectic but has a lot of what we need.

What does your subway look like?
I’m guessing you mean the restaurant.  The same as the ones in the states!  Seriously!  Even the same wrappers and same wallpaper!  It’s really similar.

What do you do for entertainment?
Sometimes we watch western TV and movies.  Not actual Westerns.  Just not Chinese TV.  (China has a vibrant pirated tv/dvd market, so recent shows/movies are far too easy to come by… but impossible to find legit copies of anything.)  We spend far too much time on the internet.  I like to bake and read books.  We spend lots and lots of time with friends.  We’re far more social here in China than we were in the states.

Where do you buy your books?
Alas.  One of the deep sorrows of my life.  No good places to buy books in Beijing.  At least not big enough to have a decent selection.  So I bring my books in, and beg family and friends to bring them when they visit.  And then I save them.  Seriously.  I do.  I keep novels on my shelf for months, anticipating the time that I might really need the escape a good book offers.  You know what I think would be awesome?  A Kindle.  Then I could download most anything I want to read.  But, I think I’d miss the way books feel in my hands.  So for now I just have to space out my reading between stock-up trips to and from the states.  No worries; it works out OK.

Where is your apartment?
In a traditional-style Chinese complex about a mile away from where we work.  (It might be closer.  Just feels like a mile in our winter commute.)  We walk past corn fields and then the edge of our village before getting to the foster home.  Our complex is made up of 7 buildings.  Each building has 5 entrances and 6 floors, with 2 apartments on each floor.  (My stellar math skills tell me that there are 60 apartments per building.)  We live on the 3rd floor, and our next door neighbors are an extension of the foster home.  Our apartment buildings are very typical Chinese apartment blocks.  Nothing fancy.  At all.  But I have indoor plumbing, which means I’m better off than most people in the village, so I can’t complain. 

11 thoughts on “Life in China

  1. Thanks Carrie. I am with Sara, I love hearing about your everyday life.

    What is the best and worst local food that you have tried?

    What is the most surprising food that you bring from home that locals like to eat with you?

    (Can you tell, I am all about food?)


  2. Have you had any health scares since you've lived there and if so, what is it like going to a hospital where treatments are so different than here…and where the physicians don't speak English?

    Which leads to question #2-
    Did you speak Mandarin when you moved there? I'm guessing you speak some now…you must.
    Are you fluent?
    (we learned a few phrases when we went to adopt Josiah and while Angela told us we were saying them correctly, what she didn't tell us is that we sounded ridiculous and Josiah just stared at us like we were from Mars…which, well…we kind of were in a sense!!)

    #3- what do you miss most about living in the States?


  3. I like to hear about your 'daily life' stuff in China too! It's a totally foreign concept (no pun intended) thinking about going to the grocery store and having it be totally different. Weird.

    Guess I'll get a taste in the next 8 weeks or so. I'd like to bring you some books!


  4. I'd like to know more about things I would worry about if I decided to leave life in the states behind to volunteer in China. What do you do for health care? Do you have insurance? What about life insurance and such? Are there volunteers with children? If so where do the kids attend school?


  5. I'm glad Sara got you started on these 'Q&A' posts again…as I always enjoy reading them, too. I think she asked questions that all of us ponder in thought and wonder about. And I love reading your answers!! 😉

    Looking forward to the next one. I may have to think of some questions, as I know I have several bouncin' around up there somewhere!


  6. Okay this is fascinating! I have to say that I'm surprised you're more social in China than in the States. I guess when I picture myself moving there, I just imagine that I won't have all the friends, church family, and such and that my social life would DECREASE! That is wonderful to hear that yours INCREASED! That must mean the Good News has increased too! 😉
    I love all Sharie's questions and can't wait to see your answers to them.
    And I have some more:
    When we were in China the last time, we went through a market where there were live geese, chickens and such and the local people bought them alive and had them prepared for dinner that night. Carrie. Seriously…is that what you do? I'm no Pollyanna, but I've never even de-boned a chicken, much less plucked feathers off a fresh carcass. OH MY. I really want to know if that's the way it has to be, or if you can get around that somehow.

    Also along the cooking theme: Do you have a crock-pot that you can leave cooking all day and then come home to yummy stew or something like that? My crock-pot is like my right hand man. I can't imagine living without it! 😉

    No, I'm not moving to China…just curious!

    And one more:
    Can you PLEASE go whisper to Kevin that his family is coming soon, and we hope he likes lots of kids 'cause we got 'em, and we're praying for him all throughout everyday, and we hope he will press the arm of the teddy bear we sent him because it's got our voices in it, and we love him already and pray he will love us too! And then will you whisper to his ayi that we pray for her too and can't wait to meet her!
    See? I'm shameless even in your Q & A!!!!!!!
    Shamelessly and hopelessly wrapped up in the joy that the Lord is allowing us to bring another little one HOME! and SOON!!!!!!!


  7. Life has been so busy lately (and with the annoying web-blocks…which your VPN suggestion is now working beautifully! yay!!:) that I have not stopped by in a while! So glad to catch up on your blog! My best friend from grade school is renting our house and called yesterday to say we had a package from New Day. Another yay! Too sweet!

    Praying for you and Jacob and all the little ones at New Day! Stay warm 🙂 …I need to get me some under armor!


  8. It is so stinkin interesting. THANK YOU for letting my nosey self into your life, if but for a moment – I HAVE to come back & get a tour!!!! Of “real” China! A Kindle would be awesome, but then what would you put on your book shelves?!?!

    I can't wait to read more. I have to see if you answered how far your apartment is from where you work and go to the store and what your mode of transportation is 🙂


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