On The Other Side of the World

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Hi everyone!  When I last blogged with you, I was exaustedly sprawled across my suitcase. I’ve now lived in Beijing for about a week and I feel like I’m quickly adjusting to life in a Chinese city. I no longer say “I’m sorry” as I push past crowds of people (unless I say “dui bu qi” so I can smirk at my own cleverness), and I did not bat a single sweaty lash when I saw a man shaving a cat in the street yesterday afternoon.

Anyhow, thanks again to my fabulous guest posters Lynn, Joanne, and Melinda for picking up the slack while I was adjusting to new territory! Another somewhat reluctant thank you to Jessie’s Subconscious for making a surprise appearance (a.k.a. Peter … just kidding about the “reluctant” thank you, by the way. The word I’m looking for is “clutching-keyboard-in-China-with-surprise-yet-somewhat-pleased” thank you). THIH has another four exciting guest posters in the queue over the next week and a half, so we have some wonderful posts coming up!! 😀

I’m sure you’re all wondering what the heck I’ve been up to over the past week. Well:

Plane lunch. Eaten with chopsticks and a lot of internal cursing. I probably should have gone for the cod meal option.

Flying over Greenland (the closest I’ll ever get!!). Sadly, nothing to be seen out of the windows, as I was wedged into the middle of the plane.

Single-sized portion of vanilla bean Hagan Daaz with built in spoon.

Approaching Beijing 13.5 hours after takeoff from Newark:

Beijing airport:

Bird’s Nest from the 2008 Olympics (I’ll get a better picture for you guys later):

On to some food! Kung pao chicken, served family-style:

I noticed right away that authentic Chinese food is ten bajillion times better than their American counterparts. I remember eating so-called “Kung Pao Chicken” when I was at Amherst College and in restaurants, and those American versions do NOT compare. In general, the food here is lighter and much more flavorful than American Chinese food. For example, what do you get when you toss edamame with a little sesame oil, vinegar, and spicy pepper?

Simply satisfying.

Check out my room!

Handwashed laundry hanging out to dry.

This is a hole from my room to the outside. Did I mention I’m on the third floor?

One of the Chinese students told me that my dorm (the foreign students’ dorm) is the nicest on campus. None of the Chinese students’ dorms have air-conditioning, and until recently some didn’t have hot water. This study abroad program has been eye-opening in many ways so far.

Gotta provide our own water and toilet paper.

My first breakfast in Beijing was a little startling. For someone who is used to a hearty bowl of oatmeal made with milk and banana, topped with peanut butter, I was a little bummed to order this:

The bun was filled with some kind of generic meat (probably beef, but maybe pork, or a combination of the two). Together, both cost 0.90 yuan, or about 13 cents. Cheap and NOT filling. I quickly abandoned the bun and ate the egg for breakfast. Don’t worry! Jessie didn’t starve.  I’ve been eating a lot of this:

I used to gobble down Pocky when I was a young ‘un. The chocolate flavors are particularly good. I also decided to try the Pretz kind after seeing them on Sophia‘s blog.  The pizza flavor really does taste like pizza!  I also wanted to taste a new kind called pejoy after seeing that one variety was red wine-flavored. Yes, it did taste like boxed red wine.

In the interest of not toying with your patience (and to give way to my laziness busyness), I will present images of my first few days in Beijing without words:

I won't be eating the street food.

Beijing subway, one of the nicest subways I've ever seen.

At the Peking University main campus:

So far we’ve spent a good chunk of each day in our Traditional Chinese Medicine and Mandarin classes. I’ll talk about them more in a later post. Other than classes, I’ve been exploring the area around the Peking University Pharmaceutics campus, shopping some and eating lots! I look forward to sharing more with you all later. Until then, zai jian!

(Final note: I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting to all of your blogs. I’ve only been able to load a couple of WordPress blogs, but I can’t download any Blogspot or Blogger blogs, and I’m having trouble with some random blogs, I think because they have a lot of graphics on them, and this school’s Internet can’t handle it. I’ll keep trying to get through, but if I’m not as active in the blogworld, I’m sorry! I’ll do my best 🙂 I also can’t connect to Facebook or Twitter, so I guess I’ll have to go back to the antiquated telephone to keep in touch 😉 )


  1. Hey Jess!! Nice to see you’ve settled down there nicely! 🙂 It did cross my mind that the Jessie’s subconscious post was from Peter, because he said something about not having fried food again for a while, so I guess that’s because you don’t like fried food much! 😀

    Beijing looks like a very beatiful city, but how do you mind the air pollution? Is it as bad as it was described during the Olympics?

  2. I loved reading about your adventures in Beijing! The station is just so clean that I can’t believe it. And sorry about breakfast but I am sure you’ll find your favorite places to eat soon enough.

    Have a fantastic time Jessie. Just know that I’m here in LA and I’m jealous of your great trip. 🙂

  3. Sounds like you’re having a great time so far! I am dying to try authentic Chinese food. I’ve only ever had the American version, and I’m not at all surprised to hear you say that the real thing is so much better!

  4. no worries about the blog thing.. just enjoy ur trip and all the wonderful exploring. im so excited seeing all these photos!! i feel like maybe im right there with you hehe.. well maybe only 20% since the damn computer screen is blocking the real life effect lol xoxo <3

  5. omg Jessie, i feel like cooking a huge pot of seafood congee for you and sending it to you along with some long chinese donuts (“yow ja gwiye” sorry for the very bad Chinglish) for breakfast. you poor girl. maybe find a chinese bakery shop and stock up on some buns. i mean the good kinds of buns. i hope you find better food soon dear. LOL-ed at your stock of pocky! i totally remember eating those as a child. and you’re right, the pizza one really does taste like pizza.

    nothing like eating authentic Chinese food in China and Hk eh? their street food looks really good but you’re smart for staying away. it took every ounce of my will power to stay away from their street food but i knew my stomach would pay for it if i didn’t. although i am curious about that squid and wings store. actually more so the squid than the wings.

    you ARE very lucky to have AC in your room. AC will be your new best friend there. you took some great pictures! i see you carry a back pack with you. just a word of caution, don’t keep your wallet in there. i’ve heard of theives slicing back packs open to get to what they need to get to. if you’re in a busy jammed pack place such as the subway, it may be a good idea to turn your back pack around and wear it in the front. may look dorky but better safe than sorry. stay safe and have fun Jessie!

  6. Have an amazing time. I love posts from overseas because I have never been out of the country!

  7. Hi Jessie!! OMG i’m so excited for you and also really glad that you’ve adapted SO SO well this past week. When i studied abroad in Beijing with 60 something other college students at Tsinghua University, a lot of Americans got so homesick and wouldn’t eat a lot of local foods (like the breakfast meat buns). If they have ’em, you should definitely try Chinese porridge! Its almost like savory oats except rice-based. 🙂

    You’re totally right. Chinese food locally is a lot less greasy than the american version of them, but there are also restaurants that like their oils. hehehe

    Man your pictures of the dorms totally bring me back to my study abroad too!! I also didnt know that us “foreign” students had it great with hot water, AC, and…our own showers! The local students at Tsinghua had to go to bath halls up to a mile away from their dorms! crazy!!

  8. Helloooooooo Beautiful!! So good to hear from you!! What an incredible experience!! Your kung pao chicken looks amazing. I’d be bummed about the breakfast too, hopefully better options will come along. Enjoy the rest of your trip!! 🙂

  9. Sounds like a great adventure so far! I don’t really know much about Chinese food so it’s interesting to see some of what’s up for offer. I love the traditional architecture, it’s so beautiful 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more about your experiences! 🙂

  10. I’m glad you gave us the update, we’ve missed you! (Your guest posts have all been fabulous though! 🙂 ) All the food looks amazing (I wish I could find Pocky) and your pictures of the architecture are really gorgeous.

  11. little wiener is growing up!!!
    *sniff* I’m soo proud!
    get some coconut rolls!!! YUMMMMM!!!!
    are you going to eat Dim Sum?

  12. HEY Jessie!! It’s YOU! IT’S REALLY YOU!!

    Sorry. It’s just that I was reading the intro waiting for the point at which you’d introduce your next guest poster, but then realized there was no guest poster, and that this post would actually be written by you. I then proceeded to become extremely excited and take on a strange urge to bake a cake. In the interest of YOUR patience, my dear, I will comment first before baking. ;P

    Haagen Daaz with a built-in spoon?! Was it made of chocolate?!? Cause that would be very rad indeed. 🙂 And I totally remember Pocky and Pretz as a wee one too! They were the BOMB! I liked the Salad Pretz the best though — it was incredibly savory!! 🙂

    Just looking at your Beijing pictures fills me with so much admiration at how well you appear to be adapting to the culture shock/living conditions not up-to-par. Because I have to admit–I wouldn’t be able to! 🙁 Good on you for being so open and braving the challenges that living in Beijing presents (well they’re challenges to me, at least) ! I’m sure, though, that there must be incredibly rewarding moments, and that those moments are what make the experience invaluable.

    🙂 Aletheia

  13. Wow, so interesting! I love hearing about foods in other countries. That breakfast is definitely….different. I’m glad to hear you aren’t starving and that you are managing to find some great foods. I am not in the least bit surprised that American Chinese food is much heavier than the real thing. Leave it to America to make everything MORE unhealthy!

    So glad you are having a great time.

  14. Interesting post. Great photos, keep them coming! We understand why you’re not around. Enjoy and don’t worry about us right now!

  15. Glad you are having a good time. I guess that first breakfast was a surprise, but at least it was cheap. Good thing you have a nice than average dorm there. Looks like you have lots of good learning going on over there. Thanks again to you and your readers for letting me share some of my story. I am glad everyone seemed to enjoy learning a little more about life on the island. Can’t wait to see more pics.

  16. Jessie,

    What a wonderful expereince. I can only imagine that the food is 1000 times better over there. That is what all my friends have told me.

    One day I will make my way over there. Hopefully.


  17. as an American Born Chinese, seeing this post is so emotional for me – like peering into what my life may have been like had i decide to study abroad at some point. it looks just like i’d imagined it to be – toilet paper and all!!!

  18. I miss you Jessie! I’m so glad to see you are having a good time.

    That tiny bun for breakfast! Blech. Who needs that! I would rather have pocky any day!

  19. Jessie! I’m so happy you posted! I didn’t see this earlier..(I don’t use google reader…maybe I should). Anyway I thought you were gone for a while and then forgot to check back. I’m happy I finally did though. It looks like you are having a great time, doing lots of interesting things (and eating lots of interesting food? Not quite sure what your breakfast was but I’ve definitely never seen anything like that before.) I’m happy you are enjoying authentic Chinese cuisine though. I love all your pictures. I hope you post again soon, but no pressure obviously. Just enjoy China!

  20. I miss you Jessie! I’m so glad to see you are having a good time.

    That tiny bun for breakfast! Blech. Who needs that! I would rather have pocky any day!

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