Wow, umm, I'm a bit surprised by some of the opinions about Beijing. To me, its a much better shopping city than Shanghai, but its still cursed by the fact that its in China, which means that while you'll be able to find many of the designer brands that are favorites on here as well as all the fashion labels, they are all typically 30%+ more expensive than they'd be in the US (or even HK) due to import taxes. That said, there are tons of Zaras, H&M's, and Uniqlos and those stores always get the high end collection stuff (like Uniqlo J+, Jimmy Choo for H&M) and its far easier to get your hands on them compared to the US. Plus, markup in these stores is fairly negligible most of the time. There are some cool boutiques and there's a mall filled with some quality fakes and interesting unique items if you have the time to sift through lots of crap. The tailor quantity and quality isn't as good as Shanghai, though there are still some decent ones. As for the weather, I spend most my time in Chicago when I'm in the US, Beijing is nowhere near as cold as Chicago, nor does it snow as much (that said, its snowing bigtime today in Beijing, VERY odd!). If you're used to winter in NY/NJ, you'll do fine in Beijing, its similar, except a lot dryer, make sure you bring lots of moisturizer. No offense to superfans, but it seems like he hasn't been around the city for awhile. Sanlitun's undergone a lot of changes, sure there is still that strip of bars on north street that somehow manage to keep going and if you walk down that strip you'll hear "lady bar, lady sex" a lot, but the Village on the other side of the street and Sanlitun Soho to the south has removed a ton of the sleaze (and unfortunately the character). There are some good spots to drink in the area, both high end, trendy and low end, college bar type spots. Houhai, on the other hand, is far from better, its where all the sleaze migrated (i've even had lady bar touts follow me into the bathroom there) to and with a few exceptions, it should absolutely be avoided. Nanluoguxiang is a much better option for a one stop drinking street. There are also a number of bars/clubs (ie Chocolate, Ichikura, etc) that are away from main strips but definitely worth a visit. The club scene is basically focused at Gongti (Worker's Stadium) at both the north (where you're treated to plenty of confusion in figuring out if your friends are at Mix or Vics) and west gate or out in the university area in Wudaokou. Which university will you be studying at? I'm assuming Beijing Language & Culture or Beijing University? There's also definitely an artsy vibe to the city, with a fairly decent live music scene as well as tons of art galleries. We don't get enough big western acts coming to town, especially now that the authorities and censors are more sensitive than ever (fuck you, Bjork!). For my money, Beijing is the best city in the world for Chinese food due to the diversity of Chinese regional cuisine you can find here. Not only will you find local Beijing food and imperial cuisine, but with the exception of Cantonese and Shanghainese food, you'll find arguably the best Sichuan restaurants outside of Sichuan, the best Xinjiang restaurants outside of Xinjiang, the best Yunnan food outside of Yunnan, etc. The city is constantly changing unlike anywhere I've ever lived in. It used to be that the city changed drastically every 6 months or so, though its slowed down to a year or two now. 10 years ago (even 5), the scene was incredibly low key and chill, you'd go out and party and see students, starving artists, mobsters, and celebrities all in the same spot, nowadays its far more stratified and everyone has their own place. If you have any specific questions or anything, feel free to PM me.