An Atlanta-Beijing Connection

Atlanta, Mei Li’s home:
This is the first winter that Mei is spending spending in Atlanta, Georgia, rather than her hometown of Beijing, China. Atlanta’s weather can get cold, but not like the windy and snowy city in northern China. Mei misses so much the endless white paradise after an overnight snowfall, and especially misses the warm living rooms that provide shelter from the frigid cold outside. Like other northern cities in China, central heating provides warmth in most homes in Beijing, and reminds Mei of the coal stove which heated her parents’ house when she was a child.

Atlanta is a rather mild southern city, without strong winds or consistent snow — and a home can be heated with a reverse-cycle air conditioner on some days. Sitting in her rented apartment, Mei comes across a website for

She finds that there are more kinds of electric fireplaces then she’d imagined. She studies each kind, imagining her living room with a vintage-style fireplace. She suddenly wakes from her daydream as she realizes that she’d have to ask her 77-year-old landlady for permission to mount a large piece of furniture in her rented room.

So Mei scans past the wall-mounted fireplaces and zeroes in on a freestanding one that looks like a rustic stove. She’s surprised that the stove she likes is affordable even for a foreign student like herself, and she buys one that is delivered a week later.

She finds that the steel stove is easy to set up by herself and not difficult to move from room to room or even to a new apartment. Mei is very pleased with her choice, and, as she stares into the dancing “flame,”  she can continue dreaming of the warmth of home, even though she is far from Beijing.