Beijing, the heaven and the hell (1)


The forbidden city in a cloudy summer day (Author: EnidYang)

Two years ago, I finished my PhD study in France and came back to China. After a long period of living alone abroad, with the fact that I just finished a thesis, I found myself much comfortable and relaxed in Chine. But the pollution was very depressing. It often overwhelmed the north part of China, especially the region of Beijing, when there is no wind blowing from the north.

I decided to find a job and live in Beijing. Because my life at that moment was a mess, staying in Beijing could make everything easier. Looking back to that decision now, I can realize what a big decision it is! But we can never know it before.

Being a Chinese who never saw the famous Great wall and the real Terra Cotta Warriors,  I know little about my own country and culture. This is partially because I was burdened with heavy load of study before I went to France. Therefore, living Beijing was exiting. All is new to me!


Without much difficulty, I got a good job offer from an IT company. It was surprising, because I did not expect my PhD degree to be valued in Chinese industry. As I later witnessed, the computer science industry has been thriving in this country, especially in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. IT Enterprises were very hungry to hire good developers and researchers to create new products or provide better services. News of start-ups are everywhere. It is not surprising that a more-than-one-year ‘old’ employee receives one to two calls per week from headhunters. The salary, surely, is much higher than the average (even though much lower than the house price:b)

Even in the fields which are less paid, finding a job is not so difficult. Take my young sister as an example. She graduated as a bachelor in industrial design from a just-so-so university of Beijing, and got several job offers in a short time. The only problem of her profession is that, in the very beginning, one can not earn much. The salary has to be increased slowly with experiences.  Instead, in IT industry, one’s salary could be doubled or tripled within one or two years.


Every one is benefiting from IT and other high-technologies.

Internet based services are everywhere. With them, I can avoid a lot of life routines. I don’t have to go to the supermarket or shopping mall except I want to kill time. E-business is very well developed here. If I need something, I can book it from the internet (lets say in the morning), and I can receive it very soon (probably in the afternoon depending on the E-business company and the express company).  If I dont like what I bought, I can choose to return it(in whole for sure! fresh food can not be returned!) in 7 days without any reason.

I don’s have to go to the back frequently to withdraw cash, online payment is supported almost everywhere. So to go around, I don’s to worry if I have enough cash or credit card with me,  it is enough to have a smart phone which has online payment app installed (weixin or zhifubao).

The transportation system is also well developed. I remember that ten years ago, from Xi’an to Beijing, it takes more than 10 hours of train. But now, still with train, it can spend only 5 hours.

And for eating, never worry about it. Beijing is the center of Chinese cuisine. One can have almost whatever you can find in the other places of Chine. For entertainment and cultural events, don’t worry too. This city can keep surprising you with its rich culture.


I enjoyed a lot my new job, mainly because I could finally touch something practical with my theoretical knowledge and I have a group of nice, young and funny geeks as my colleagues. I love geeks, and I already met a lot during my PhD. This kind of enjoying more or less helped me quickly adapt to the high-rhythm working style which I thought I would never live with.  Besides, I continued to enjoy the comfort with the familiar language, food, and music. I also enjoyed a lot having my family and old friends so close to me.

Meanwhile, I have full of new things to explore in the city.  When the wind blows from the north,  and the sky shows its blue face(sometimes decorated with some white puffy clouds), Beijing becomes one of the most beautiful city of the world.  In the city center, though a lot of old buildings were destroyed, the remaining is still magnificent.  The Chinese style architecture, simple but meaningful designs, treasures from the old time, together with the rich history of this country and this city, attract me deeply. After visiting so many churches/palaces, and seeing so many paintings in Europe,  for the first time, I found my own culture is so interesting.

Outside of the old city, located a lot of parks, commercial centers and office areas, around which modern Chinese people(including me) live their lives.  I like a lot the Chinese parks, where you can really feel people living: the retired women dance traditional or modern dances, men do traditional Chinese sports, a band give its regular show just for fun, young people do jogging and families play with their kids.

With a curious mind, I spent a very happy first year at Beijing, and I almost thought that I made a really good decision to stay.

But, every story has a BUT.  I will write this BUT part in the next article.