Beijing Subway

Ten Things I Am Looking Forward to in Beijing

Ten Things I Am Looking Forward to in Beijing

Over the past few years of researching online, interviewing past China study abroad participants, and grilling professors about their experience in China to plan this opportunity abroad, I have collected a few nuggets of insight:

1. Convenience Stores

No, no, convenience stores don’t mean the commercial pharmacy down the street. It’s not CVS. It’s not Walgreens.

Family Mart

It’s nostalgia. Convenience stores are a happy place (Disclaimer: This is coming from someone whose childhood was transplanted from Chinatown, Chicago to Wisconsin suburb). All the happy memories of childhood – warmed steamed buns, rice dumplings, bottled red tea; even better bottled milk tea, childhood heroes reproduced as collectible goods (Naruto, Hello Kitty, Pokemon anyone?) – jewels that once took a 2 hour drive, can be found in that convenience store right outside the door.

2. Being near Major E-Sports Competitions

Maybe it’s the recent hype for THE major DOTA 2 tournament in August, Ti5, but, E-Sports in China are big (DOTA 2 is a popular online game produced by Valve).

DOTA2 G Leauge

The second biggest international DOTA 2 tournament featured an opening by JJ Lin, the beloved singer-songwriter that has been stealing hearts across Asia since 2003. Think someone with the cultural presences of Usher holding a concert at a gaming venue. But, the wonder of E-sports goes beyond the glamour. It’s the story. These video gaming enthusiasts tucked away as outcasts in the basements of their parents home have made a multimillion enterprise and a new culture. It’s lovely.

3. Visiting the Expat Communities

Imagining the costs it takes to leave home, these people must have great stories to tell.

A district in Beijing known for expats
Beijing is a rather internationally oriented city. It’s a mix of Washington D.C plus the shopping districts, financial districts like Chicago or New York has. It’s fun to look at what aspects of the expats’ homes are carried over to China. I hear that microbrews and cheese enthusiasts are popping up around Beijing. Perhaps one day, Americatown (or would Wisconsintown be more proper?) will be accepted by google’s auto-correct.

4. Asking Chinese locals how they view America and China

Communist, eat dog, immoral, job sealers, try-hards, sounds like China in the U.S. It’s hard to get anything more than an outdated stereotype inside the U.S.

Snapshot of China

Our information about China goes through a filter before reaching us, whether it is through the government or the press. Stereotypes are necessary, but there should be stereotypes that are closer to the actualities that are happening in day-to-day China. The last fifty years in China were crazy. People who lived through it are still alive. People who are going to shape the next fifty years are shaping their view on the world.

5. Looking Like the Majority

Edited photo with a face photoshopped onto 10 different heads

Being Chinese-American in a quiet Wisconsin Suburb means sticking out like a sore thumb.

China isn’t as concerned with being “politically correct” about identity as the U.S. may be. There are horror stories about Chinese-Americans or simply Asian-Americans being mistaken as Chinese-Chinese (Nationals sounds odd), and being scolded for not understanding Chinese and Chinese culture, but I’d rather have that – and the ability to blend in the background – than being odd all the time. It can get exhausting (I’ve also learned a trick to tell people I’m from Korea when I can’t handle being scolded anymore — if you’re reading this, thanks Frances).

6. Visiting Friends from Across the World


Food with good company, what more could anyone want? Shout-out to Project Pengyou!

7. Crowds in the Subway
Crowded subways are a great way to study people-to-people interactions while appreciating high-tech public transportation.

Beijing Subway

The subway is a unique mix of routine and chaos. There are people from all sorts of backgrounds. Some are regulars, some are lost. The stops indicate the district people are headed to and from. The time, the location, the people, a PhD candidate struggling to finish could write their dissertation from the intersection these variables. After a week of riding the subway in the sweaty summer months, this statement will probably be retracted.
8. Taking Journalism Courses
News in China is run under the Propaganda Department.


I’m sure, journalism is not an attractive profession to anyone looking for good income or a normal job — that I have learned over my meager years as a J-school student myself. Journalists are in it for the story that speaks to the heart. In the U.S. journalists are romanticized as the fourth estate, always keeping the big guys in check. That doesn’t fly in China. Then, how does the mind of a journalist work in China?

9. Indie Film Festivals

Indie films are great because they’re made for the spirit of filmmaking promoting a cause and story-telling, not necessarily commercial value.


That’s not to say commercial films are terrible either, they serve different purposes. Unfortunately, last year, the Indie film fest in Beijing was cancelled by the government. Hopefully this year, the screening will be approved. If not, well, then there are trusty streaming sites thanks to poor IP laws and regulation.

10. Traveling outside Beijing

Photo of Jiuzhaigou

Jiuzhaigou beckons — photo credit to creative commons

It was a lazy summer day filled by lounging in my bed when I stumbled across this image. I had to sit up to take a proper gasp of air when I saw it. This image has been saved onto my flash-drive since middle school. This is Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) in Sichuan Province. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I am going to go here before I leave China.

My only fear is that my expectations of this list of ten, will be too high. Coming next, 10 things I am not looking forward to in Beijing!

The Trouble with Amy Chua’s Tiger Moms

The approach to this controversy rather interesting. Amy Chua I appreciate your love for your family values, but be a little more careful when addressing an audience that lacks the firsthand experience. We seem to like to stay within these bounds of categories, despite their faults. But, the times have changed. The U.S is not the U.S of before. Using race no longer is a reliable representation of an identity. Here are my two cents in response to “The Trouble With Tiger Culture:”

“I find it odd that we are still trying to explain this difference in childhood achievement through race. Race is never a good way to explain things. Race leaves out so many other contributing factors. Race isn’t even a real thing, it’s just an outdated categorization of people. What’s important is the situation people are in that cause them to be so strict on their children.

While I agree, that you typically see greater sense of piety in Chinese, it’s not rooted in Confucianism. Confucianism isn’t even a thing in China. Confucianism is really just principles carried on through a family. All families have that. Why are Chinese families so much more in-tune with their family values? I’d like to say it’s because they are a misunderstood group of people in their communities. They look like foreigners, they are treated like foreigners. So, of course, they revert back to the comfort of their family and feel a stronger attachment to them.

In America, it’s easy to categorize, or stereotype Chinese children as high achievers. But go back to China. 1.35 billion people. How many children are there? How many of them are those high-achieving kid that Americans so often look upon? And of course, they’re all Chinese. In China, those who are high achievers are those with families that can afford the sacrifice. Even then, there are plenty of kids that refuse to follow everything. Yes, there are kids that fail in class.Yes, there are high school drop outs in China.

So then, who are the Chinese that come to the U.S? They’re either families that are already affluent and successful that see a dead-end/don’t agree with how the government is working, or families that cannot climb up the ladder due to their societal position and need a different outlet for a happier life. So the whole demographic of the Chinese coming to the U.S is completely skewed already. This same idea can be put onto almost any immigrant family.

That’s another thing, we’re often comparing first generation immigrant families to third, fourth, fifth generation American families. These first generation of families are fighting to achieve their American dream. These first generation families know of the sacrifices they made to be where they are. These first generation families are setting the standard of expectations for future generations to come. Whether they are successful or not will affect how their children are raised in the coming generations.

If you look at the average public high school, yes there are a lot of successful Chinese students, but there are also a lot of successful American students. Their reason for success is usually because of their parent’s encouragement of education, because education is what brought them success. Those successful American have a legacy to carry too. But why don’t these successful American students become a whiz in every possible area? It’s because from the parents’ experience, it wasn’t needed. Values that prove successful remain, those that are detrimental are left behind.

These are just my observations as a first generation Chinese American. We’ve got to stop looking at each other like we’re so different. In the end, all the parents want is the child’s happiness.”