Hello, internet! To the 5 of you who are probably reading this, thank you! I can’t wait to start sharing my thoughts and stories with you all. Welcome to my first blog post ever….
This morning was chaotic to say the least. After a wonderfully fun but slightly irresponsible final night at home (summary: AT&T Park claimed the lives of both my cell phone and debit card…), I woke up at 6 AM to finish (AKA start) packing. With the help of my loving parents, I shoved 60 pounds of clothes, toiletries, and books into a case and somehow managed to get to the airport with time to spare.
Roughly 14 hours, 2 movies, 3 magazines, half a book, and an attempted nap later, I landed in Beijing. Between the stress of the morning and my attempts to distract myself on the plane, I didn’t really have time to freak out about what I was doing. But once our plane hit the tarmac, I my mind left its state of numbed limbo and reality set in. I just landed in China. Completely on my own. WHOA. Needless to say, the butterflies that had been lingering in my stomach all morning kicked into high gear when I stepped into the airport. I managed to get through customs, find my bag, and get a taxi easily enough, and within the hour I was on my way to the hotel I will be working at. Fun fact about the taxi, it had seat belt straps but no buckle… Because apparently it’s only fun to PRETEND you are safe when riding around in Beijing, where street lines are mere suggestions.
It was pretty surreal leaving the airport and driving into the real Beijing. The last time I was here was in 2008, but I was with 200 students and not really paying attention to my surroundings. Regardless of my high school freshman ignorance, a lot of what I saw through the window of my cab looked familiar. Of course there is the ever pervading gray sky. Truthfully I can’t tell if it’s overcast, smoggy, or both, but I have a feeling blue skies will be few and far between this summer. There is also the presence of these weird cotton-tuft like floaters everywhere in the air, which I can only presume to be coal burn-off or something? I really have no clue, but surely they aren’t great for your lungs. It took roughly 20 minutes to get to the hotel, where I was warmly greeted by my future boss and shown to my small but sleek room. A few hours later I met my roommate, who took me to a grocery store in the connecting mall where I bought some essentials (water, sour cream and onion pringles). Despite my exhaustion, we snacked and then met up with a few of her friends in the beautiful hotel bar so I could meet some other young people and try and fight my jet-lag. After 20 minutes and almost falling asleep into my glass, I decided I had pushed my lack of sleep as far as I could and called it a night.
So here I am. The past 20 hours has been a whirlwind of emotions and anxiety, but now that I am actually here, I feel much calmer and more prepared to face the next three months. Don’t get me wrong, I am insanely excited about this adventure. I can’t wait to start working, to explore, and to meet more people. But I am also 6000 miles away from home in a country where I only know my 75 year old grandfather… But shoutout to the people who have told me that the things that scare you the most end up being the best experiences. Because they are definitely right, I can’t wait to prove it!