As many people in expat communities like Beijing know, summer brings with it a mass-exodus from the city. Largely following the academic year, lots of individuals and families spend time outside of the city during the summer holidays. I sit editing this back in the US and as such, it seemed fitting that this week’s Ask a…post be a shout out to those staying in the Jing this summer.
So, I caught up with India, a friend staying in Beijing for the summer, to get the inside scoop on summer life in Beijing. Here’s this week’s Ask a…Summer Beijinger.
To add some background, India, what do you do in Beijing?
I am a high school math teacher. Today is my last day of school!
Woohoo! Yay summer! What are your plans for this summer holiday?
I will mostly be hanging around Beijing. On weekends I will take some short trips with friends who will still be in the city working, but mostly I will spend a lot of time hanging out and organizing my life. There are a couple big events happening in my life next year, so it’s going to take a lot of planning.
Big events…I’ll leave readers to wonder what those might be 😉 Moving along…what do you do when most of your friends leave for the summer?
When I moved to Beijing almost two years ago, I made friends quickly and life took on a fairly regular schedule. Consequently, I have done very little exploring and sightseeing in Beijing and in the surrounding area. While my friends are gone, I plan on wandering around in and outside the city; I hope to find some lesser-known cool areas.
Seems like you have a plan already, but what are some benefits to this mass exodus?
It can be super beneficial to take periods of time to spend time alone and with the Lord. Although my natural desire isn’t to be alone, I think it will be good for me to have forced-time by myself where I can reflect on all the moving parts of my life. I was inspired to think of the coming alone-time in this way by a book you recommended, actually. It is called The Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. In it, Foster talks about the Discipline of Solitude.
Yeah, the rather chaotic pace of city life can take a toll, so that intentional time with the Lord is so crucial. How else do you plan to rest and prepare for next school year?
I will not think about any mathematical concepts all summer! I am teaching an art history elective this coming fall semester, so I will have to do some reading to catch up on stuff I haven’t studied in ages. I will also spend my time doing many of the solo activities that I just don’t have time for during the school year—visiting museums, exploring the city, yoga, reading, cooking, etc.
That sounds awesome and hopefully you’ll share with us any cool finds you come across! For other people looking to get plugged into the happenings of Beijing, what are some ways to find out what’s still going on in and around the city?
I subscribe to a few different WeChat subscription accounts. TimeOutBeijing, ThatsBeijing, and theBeijinger are all super helpful for finding new restaurants and events going on. For general ideas I am planning on buying a trusty Beijing travel guide to read up on a lot of the historical and Chinese cultural stuff that I know nothing about.
While those are all great things to look forward to over the summer, I also want to take a look at the flipside. What are some difficulties that arise by being in Beijing over summer when lots of people have left?
I haven’t been in Beijing over a summer yet, but I imagine I may get lonely when many of my closest friends are gone. I plan on meeting new people at church and reaching out to people that I normally wouldn’t be able to meet up with.
Okay, let’s be real, one of the difficult parts of summer is the rather extreme heat. What do you do to avoid the Beijing heat?
I drink lots of water, wear sunscreen, and plan on stopping for cold drinks along my way. Spending so much time indoors in the air-conditioning drives me crazy after a while, so I plan on waking up early to enjoy the cooler mornings, taking naps during the heat of the day, and staying up late to enjoy the cool evenings.
Before we head off to our summer holidays, do you have any final suggestions for summer Beijingers to make the most of this time?
Having daily goals is a good place to start. If you anticipate having more time on your hands than usual, decide on what is important to you, and write down when you’re going to do these things. If you never plan, the summer might fly by and you won’t have finished anything you had hoped to do.
Well, India, thanks so much for sharing about your summer in the Jing! We look forward to sharing any awesome Beijing finds, and readers, if you have any ideas to share or questions to ask, post in the comments section below or send us an email to email@example.com.
Having daily goals is a good place to start.