Living in China,  Studying Chinese

5 Types of People You Are Sure to Find in Beijing

Today’s guest post comes from Prachi who writes The View From The Great Wall.

Beijing is one of the most happening capitals in the world today. People who’ve never been to China see coming here as an experience to witness and indulge in Chinese culture, but what most people don’t realize is that Beijing is one big multi ethnic society, where you are surely to come across the following kinds of people.


1. “I Want To Study In China”

This category includes student exchanges, university collaborations, or even gap years. Any way you somehow find yourself in China, it’s going to change your life most definitely- but doesn’t necessarily change yourself. More parts of you come out more while other parts stay behind.

Students come here for a specific period of time (from 6 months to 1 year) to learn the Mandarin language but often do end up staying behind, by either extending their education or even getting a job here.


The majority of students come from all countries; you’ll find everyone from Ireland to Kazakhstan to The United States, all with the intention of learning Mandarin and eventually taking out time to travel around China. Coming to study language in Beijing is a great opportunity to travel around the city, as well as adjoining provinces. Not only could you plan a quick day trip to The Great Wall, you can even manage to travel to Inner Mongolia (without a visa) or Hong Kong. There are numerous places worth checking out only in China, attracting tourists and also promoting students to travel by providing student discounts on entry tickets and such.

Many students come to Beijing Language and Culture University and Wudaokuo, the district this university is located in, because it works as a comfort pillow to foreigners- being home to many restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines; Indian, Italian, Korean, Continental  to name a few. A lot of foreigners swear by this district, and religiously go to famous clubs and hangout spots like La Bamba, Sensation, Propaganda, WU club, Windows, and Lush. Peking University, Beijing Foreign Language School, Beijing Normal University, Tsinghua University, are among the many popular universities for foreigners here in the capital.


2. “I Never Want To Grow Old”

People who initially come here to study or travel are prone to staying in China longer. All for one reason- They never want to grow old. This magical land gives you the feeling that every day is a party. The Beijing night life is crazy amounts of fun, people from all over the world partying under one roof. The famous Sanlitun bar street is the place to be if you’re looking for a crazy night out. It’s all fun and games till the next morning you wake up to realize that the alcohol you might have had the other night was in fact, fake.

I have personally witnessed numerous people in their 30s that choose to stay in China, only to teach English as it provides a good pay per hour, especially if you’re a native speaker.

People make sure they have a job to pay for their rents, and then they are all set to live out the peak years of their lives partying away. It sounds like a great idea till the time realization sets in and they’re 45 years old, single, without any real work experience (so going back to their country doesn’t sound like a good plan) with the additional possibility of herpes.

The city offers a life without the stress of any relationships as the kind of relationships the city offers could tend to be short-lived as people are always leaving and new people are always coming to Beijing. So that leaves no room for attachment, only a convenient vicious circle of non-stop partying and meeting new people.


3. “I’m Looking For A Good Time”

Some reasons are more obvious than others and here’s one absolutely to the point. People come to China for a little mu-shu (as Chris Tucker) puts it. Whether you’re studying or working you will almost always bump into someone who wants to get in your pants. After day comes night, and you’ll probably find yourself in a date sooner or later- Beijing brings that to you. Foreigners find other foreigners and more than often you can find foreigners with the locals.


The search is constantly on, 24/7, all 365 days in a year and everywhere. QQ, Wechat, you name it. To add to that, even websites like TheBeijinger have a separate space for people seeking “companionship”.

You name it, everyone is enjoying this city’s nightlife and the straight forward culture of getting as much as possible.


4. Business with China

Not only is China the world’s second largest trading nation, it’s leading the world in export- coming in second for imports. China’s famous Import & Export Fair, a.k.a the Canton Fair- has the longest history, the highest level, the largest scale, the most complete exhibit variety, the broadest distribution of overseas buyers and the greatest business turnover in China.

China can bring out the businessman in you. There are dozens of people who I have met here, who have started their own companies and have become entrepreneurs. There are great opportunities in the form of starting your own school/classes for the purpose of teaching English.

Getting into business with the next big thing is a wise idea for your financial future.


5. When in China, Do as the Chinese do

Possibly the most sincere reason to stay back, this category of people enter China and never look back. As soon as they get a Chinese Visa they pack their bags and say goodbye to life as they knew it, looking forward to all the oriental adventures coming their way.

A small percentage of the foreigners that come here work in China and eventually get married to a local, have cute little half this and half that babies, enjoying the perks of being a laowai in China. [A fun YouTube video: Preferential Treatment to Laowais.]

Whatever it is that had brought us to this country in the first place is long forgotten and the Chinese culture is completely embraced. They are now complaining about the same issues that the locals face, getting their names in the car number lotto, not to mention folding their pants to their knees and confessing their undying love for Tsingtao!

So Ganbei to you, China!


  • T

    The guest author probably meant to include “English teachers” (scare quotes) in one of the five types listed above, but I think “English teachers” deserve a category of their own given their prominent presence in China, and perhaps Asia more broadly. These people are the equivalent of the fruit pickers, the maids and the restaurant dish washers in the US, and they would be regarded as badly but for the white privilege they enjoy in China; they are often unemployable in their home countries.


    Sam Reply:

    What rubbish. The vast majority of English teachers are a credit to themselves, their countries, and their profession. You do get the odd nutter, but don’t tar all teachers with the same brush please.


    T Reply:

    Please, save the sanctimonious outrage. The reality is that most of the so-called English teachers in China need remedial English lessons themselves and they have no business teaching anyone anything. These people are only in China because they have nothing going for them back home.

    You’re right, of course, in that not all of the people in the ESL industry in China are losers. Some are just teaching English in China as a part of their temporary expat experience and they will go back home eventually to start their real professional careers. And some — who make up a very small minority — are genuine teachers with the proper skills and training to do the job. Most, however, are just losers with no marketable skills.


    Sam Reply:

    Myths and stereotypes. Sorry for the sanctimonious outrage, but I get tired of seeing English teachers run down in the same way over and over again. Most teachers I’ve met here are actually more employable back home, they’re are choosing to come to Asia for a year or so to do something different, and when it comes down to it I’d rather sit down and have a chat with a group of English teachers than with a bunch of self-proclaimed businesspeople who never shut up about money, careers, investments, and marketable skills.


    Paul Reply:

    You sound like the usual ‘I have a good job therefore I am God’ (wanker) category. I am one of the losers you describe, went to China had a blast, was a useless teacher, do you think I give a toss? No, had an amazing time, and while you were slaving away in some office, kissing some corporate suit’s ass, I was cruising round the hutongs on my flying pigeon bike wheeeeeeeeeee!!


  • Nommoc

    Comments by category:

    1) Mandarin Chinese students abound in China. I shamelessly suggest studying Chinese in Tianjin:

    Sara however I’m guessing is partial to Guangzhou… ; )

    2) Seen many of these. Either should have left sooner or simply have no where better to go.

    3) Too many of these. The 70’s are over. Intimacy without consequences did not and does not exist. Unwanted pregnancy, STD’s, broken families, etc.

    4) Not enough of these. Too many foreign players, too few foreign professionals in China.


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    If you come to China just for the Mandarin Chinese, then Guangzhou isn’t the best place. But if you come to work, do business, enjoy life then Guangzhou is a great choice among others :)


    Nommoc Reply:

    I think Guangzhou has a unique bonus to offer Mandarin Chinese students, namely the local dialect is a dialect worth learning in itself.

    This isn’t always true for the other cities.

    Take Tianjin for example as that’s where I’m at… Tianjin hua isn’t exactly PuTongHua, yet, you will learn it and even have a bit of a “local” accent to your Mandarin due to the fact that you live here. However, Tianjin hua isn’t really of major value at current on the international business scene. Therefore my picking up some Tianjin Hua doesn’t do much other than earn me some brownie points with the Tianjin locals.

    Compare this to… Guangzhou…

    I’ve only been there once, but from what I encountered the locals mostly speak GuangDongHua a.k.a. YueYu a.k.a. Cantonese.

    Now this language (Cantonese) outside of Mandarin is a language worth learning on its own, Hong Kong and many southern Chinese people who now live internationally speak Cantonese.

    Bottom line, learning Mandarin in Guangzhou has the added bonus of learning a local dialect (Cantonese) that is cool in itself. It is like the old 一举两得 or the BOGO (Buy one get one free), come for Mandarin, get Cantonese for free…

    That’s my sales pitch for learning Mandarin Chinese in Guangzhou… ; )

    Oh yeah, one more thing…

    The location, Guangzhou is just a bus, boat or train away from many great places, be it Hong Kong, Shenzhen, AoMen, ZhuHai, Taiwan, etc.

    The location makes it a desirable destination for expats…

    And finally, as it comes to mind, the weather, NO real winter and NO coal being burned for heat… thank goodness.

    November 15th is the dreaded day of central heat beginning in Northern China, which means more muck in the air to clog our lungs, a hefty price to pay for heat… yet, not an issue in Guangzhou… ; )


  • Sam

    What’s wrong with being 45 years old and single? What defines “real work experience”? It’s never too late to reinvent yourself, at 45 you can start a new career, study anything you like, start from scratch. Age is no barrier, except to those who think it is.


    chinaelevatorstories Reply:

    Completely agree! Putting people into the above mentioned boxes as though only one is the right way to live and others are wrong is quite superficial in itself.


  • Prachi Tyagi

    Its quite sad to see people completely misunderstanding the article. No where does it say that “these are the ONLY kinds of people you find in Beijing”.


  • chinesegirlsarenasty

    expats are losers who can’t get girls in their own countries. so they have to date ugly ass chinese sluts who will open their legs for anyone because even ugly ass chinese men don’t want them.


  • disqus_qHvHPmPHuB

    Well I stayed but in Taiwan. I never liked it from the first day. Teaching I hated even more but I had the Taiwanese g.f so I stayed. I have come back now at the age of 45, single, and will never go back . It was no party and Taiwanese I found flaky and shallow but with the facade of being friendly. So all I can say is your article not true for Taiwan. Im so glad I left.


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