The Shellens-Jacobs family
Parents - Sweder and Saskia Schellens-Jacobs
Children - Ella (13) and Sweder Jr (10)
From - The Netherlands
Where do you and your family live?
We live in Wangjing.
What are the family-friendly perks for kids in the area? We choose this area because you’re still close to the centre for entertainment but the area is also more quiet. We dare to race around in our neighbourhood on our two e-bikes (dian dong che). We love it ! Our compound is spacious and has lots of greenery.
Is there anything you don’t like about your neighbourhood?
Our house is a bit far from our children’s school, BCIS
. For the kids this means their bus ride takes quite a long time. But that’s almost inevitable in a big city like Beijing.
What’s the best thing you have discovered about bringing up your family in Beijing?
Sweder and I were really excited to come to Beijing; he thought it was an adventure and a step up in his career, and, being a long time practitioner of tai chi, I was excited to do this in China. It’s really fantastic to have the opportunity to meet so many international friends. Many times we have been amazed by all the different cultures. It puts your own culture into perspective. But sometimes it’s really funny, like when you observe all the different types of table manners.
Where do your children go to school and why did you send them there?
We send them to BCIS
, which is a great school. On their website it says: Empowering and Inspiring through Challenge and Compassion. The last word ‘compassion’ really appealed to us. After a year there, we can confirm that they really live up to this aspiration. If we go back home in the future, we would like to take BCIS home with us!
What issues did you face as a family moving over to Beijing?
For us Dutch people the hot summers and cold winters are both much more extreme than in our home country. We also find the air pollution quite bad.
And how did you resolve them?
For the extreme weather, we dress like Eskimos in winter and mount the big gloves to our e-bikes. During the really hot summer break… well, we go home. You can’t avoid the air pollution so we turned instead to indoor activities like laser tag, going to the cinema or swimming in an indoor pool.
What advice do you have for newbies?
What helped us when we moved to Beijing was starting Chinese lessons right away.The locals appreciate it greatly. And if you get a wonder-struck face, maybe try another tone?