This Expat Life: Month 31 + My First Beijing Anniversary

After moving abroad in July 2014, I started compiling monthly roundup posts about life as an expat in Asia and all the nitty gritty that goes on behind the scenes here at Travel Lush. You can find all of my previous monthly roundup posts here.

This Expat Life: Month 31 + My First Beijing Anniversary - Travel Lush

Man, the month of February just flew by. Seriously, one day I’m walking on the beach in Nha Trang and the other I’m sitting in my office in Beijing. It’s crazy.

Nha Trang Beach

I spent the first part of the month wrapping up my two-month stint in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Knowing that I would soon be heading back to Beijing I relished each and every walk on the beach I took, savored every bowl of pho I could get my hands on and appreciated every breath of fresh air I took.

And on February 18 – the exact day I moved to China last year – I flew back to Beijing.

Temple of Heaven - Beijing, China

Men playing mahjong in Beijing

That’s right, I’ve officially lived in Beijing for an entire year! It’s interesting looking back over the posts I wrote when I first moved to China. In some ways so much has changed, but in other ways I feel like I just moved here.

I was really nervous when I found out I’d be moving to Beijing. Things like the pollution, the crowds, the language barrier were all intimidating to me. I’d never been to China before, and the idea of moving to a completely foreign megacity made me seriously apprehensive.

But somehow Beijing won me over from the very beginning. Everything just fell into place incredibly quickly. I found a job, met new people, figured out how to navigate the subway system and settled into my little apartment. My life quickly took on a routine – a routine that was very welcome after my rocky 6-month stint in Phnom Penh.

Obviously the past year has been full of ups and downs. Moving to any new city requires an adjustment and there are plenty of things about living in China that are challenging. The pollution, the crowded subway lines, the need for VPNs, the incessant construction projects all challenge me from time to time… and sometimes every day!

Beijing subway crowds
One year in and I’m still not a fan of rush hour on the subway.

But despite the difficulties, I’ve actually really enjoyed the time I’ve spent in Beijing. I still have a lot of learning and exploring to do. In many ways my extended stints in Bali and Nha Trang and the semi-remote location of my Beijing apartment have made it challenging to really get to know this city. Sometimes I don’t even feel like I live in Beijing.

But since I’ve been back I’ve been making more of an effort to go out and get to know this city. Last month I finally played tourist and visited the historic Temple of Heaven, I dined at a very local and very famous dumpling joint, and I even ate my first jianbing (a crispy crepe and basically the most popular street food in the city). Anyone who reads this who currently lives in Beijing or has visited this city will definitely be wondering how I could have gone an entire year without trying a jianbing.

Temple of Heaven - Beijing, China
Oh Temple of Heaven, you’re even prettier in person.

It’s absurd that it’s taken me a year to do these things. But I’ve been truly enjoying my time back in Beijing. The air has been clean, the weather has been lovely and spring (my favorite season in China’s capital) is right around the corner.

Beijing during winter
A beautiful winter’s day in Beijing.


I also made some exciting travel plans last month. I’m going to Italy next month! One of my very best friends in the world is getting married in a villa in Siena. So I’ll be making my way to Europe to see her get hitched. I’m incredibly excited to be in Italy — even if it’s only for a week — and to have the chance to be there for this very special occasion.


Nha Trang is picturesque, so it’s no wonder the two most popular photos of the month were taken there!

So much prettiness in #vietnam🇻🇳

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How did your February shape up?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

6 thoughts on “This Expat Life: Month 31 + My First Beijing Anniversary

  1. I can’t believe it’s been a year already! So glad everything feel into place for you with the job and everything else. Do you know how long you will be staying in Beijing for?

    1. I know! This year has flown by. Yeah, everything has been pretty good. The past few weeks have been unbelievably beautiful here! Though the pollution came back today 🙁 Um, we were only supposed to stay until June, but there’s a really good chance we’ll be staying longer than expected 😉

    1. It so simple, but SO GOOD and full of flavor! Haha, I can’t believe it took me so long to try a jianbing. I guess I didn’t really know what it was so I assumed it wasn’t vegetarian. Haha, if I tried to recreate it it would be a complete disaster.

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