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There are the grizzled veterans of course, but three to five years is the cut-off point for most. But the thing is, you will almost always head back.
The pollution aside, Beijing still has a culture which remains alien for years after you have experienced it.
The last one called himself a “globalised Chinese guy”—perhaps there is something to be said about the fact that at least two Chinese men described themselves thus on their profiles.
It had been a gloriously blurry fortnight—one that had let me have all of the fun without having to deal with the mess.
I live in Beijing, a city of over 20 million people, with a history that dates back three millennia.
Beijing is also where China’s identity crisis makes itself most evident—the struggle to hold to its traditions, while attempting to shake them off in a race to become modern and Westernised.
I listen to a Southern drawl and there is a part of my brain which jumps to quick judgement, just as they might be do when they hear my accent.“English teachers,” I sniffed, with acquired derision, as many of the expats working non-teaching jobs here do.
Its winding , with homes that were built centuries ago, also house designer boutiques and craft breweries.
English-language schools—not all of them legitimate—continue to mushroom, and while the expat population is primarily formed by English teachers, it also includes IT professionals, entrepreneurs, and guidance counsellors who prep harried Chinese children and their still-more-harried parents for universities abroad.
The conversation was constant, if a little stilted.
They would discuss the usual: how their day was going, Beijing’s smog and how different it was from North Carolina, where he had grown up.