Lost Girl of the Week: Jennifer Conrad

Blogging Your Trip, China, Lost Girl of the Week, Websites and Blogs, Working Abroad — By on March 11, 2008 at 12:02 pm

This week we’re giving props to Jennifer Conrad, a New York City dweller who left her job as an web editor to move to Beijing for four months so she could experience what it’s like to live in a foreign city. Rather than merely passing through a new place, she’s brave enough to stay put and really dive into what makes the city tick. You can follow her adventures as she meets locals, samples street food, and picks up Mandarin on her blog. Here’s why she got lost in her own words:

“I always loved to travel, and dedicated most of my spare income to going on adventures, whether a weekend trip to Upstate New York or flying across the country. Somewhere along the way, I concocted the dream of living in a foreign city-like, really living there, not just passing through for a few days or weeks on vacation. I wanted to work, eat, shop and commute like the locals. I’d studied abroad in Spain and in Argentina when I was in college, but it was a little too easy to slide into hanging out at bars with other Americans, especially when we were packed seven girls to an apartment in Buenos Aires.

I chose China because I’d come here once before, and I’ve studied a little Mandarin (although I’m quickly realizing that my language skills don’t go far enough in a town where hardly anyone speaks English. I can generally get my point across-“I want to go here;” “I want to buy this. Where do I pay?”-but when people respond to me, I have no freaking clue what they’re saying. The Beijing growl-every word ends in rrrrrhhh-doesn’t help.) And China, especially Beijing, feels so dynamic now, with the incredible pace of construction, sweeping cultural changes, and breaking art and music scenes.

So here I am, sitting in my posh sublet, perched above an eight-lane “street” and insulated from the chaos of the city. I love the shows, the street food, the futuristic malls and filthy alleyways. After about a week, I’m still not quite sure what I’m doing here-Am I learning Chinese? Being a writer? Taking a really long vacation because who needs savings?-but I guess that’s the point.”


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