Benjamin: Ben Sapphiro
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Beijing, etc.
My name is Benjamin Saphiro. I am from Birmingham, England. I moved to Beijing in 2009.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started my blog on the Twentieth of April this year. I had been writing about Beijing prior to then but I didn’t like the thought of blogging.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
There’s a part of the blog (somewhere in the middle) when I’m running around the streets of Beijing jogging during night time. I quite like that bit, though it is hard to isolate any one part because of the nature of blog. It is all one continuous scroll.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Beijing differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I’ve been here for five years and every day is a new circumstance. I don’t know if that is Beijing or just me. China is a very strange land.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Beijing? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I find expat life works better when you don’t prepare. Preparing only forms preconceptions when travelling.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Yes. Once there was a poet who thought Beijing was the New, New York and he would become rich and famous there. He didn’t.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Beijing?
Firstly, forget everything you think you know about China. Secondly, forget everything you think you know about yourself. Thirdly, try and learn from the Chinese.
How is the expat community in Beijing? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I’m not particularly a social expat. Though the expat community is very open here. I met some good people on the first day I arrived.
How would you summarize your expat life in Beijing in a single, catchy sentence?
It isn’t like the movies.