My plane ride to China best symbolizes what I expect my experience in China to be. I expected my United Airlines flight to be like any other long flight: watching movies on the mini screen in front of my seat. As I arrived at my window seat, I was in utter shock and horror because guess what? There was no mini-TV! Even better was that I couldn’t watch Zootopia like everyone else because my earphone cord didn’t work. The one thing I do when I’m stressed is sleep. So, naturally, I slept. When I woke up, there was an old Asian man who looked to be about 70 years old sleeping on my shoulder. I spazzed out and woke him up. He immediately started speaking Chinese to me, and I could only make out one of the things he said; “Are you Chinese?” “No, I’m American.” And that’s how the plane ride went from depressing to interesting. I barely reviewed Chinese before coming to China, and it definitely showed during our conversation. As he talked to me in only Chinese, I had my first taste of what China was going to be like (which involved using a lot of my Chinese-English dictionary). This is what some of the conversation looked like:
I had a huge headache the entire plane ride and felt like a 3 year old child trying to talk to Albert Einstein. But throughout my terrible Chinese, I learned that his son is a professor at Penn, a story about a man named Wu Song who killed a tiger, and (after holding up the flight attendant for several minutes) how to say red wine in Chinese. Long story short, my plane ride was my first taste of China: and it tasted weird but interesting.
I noticed a lot of things that I took for granted in the States. For example, TOILET PAPER. Public bathrooms here are not only holes in the ground, but they also don’t provide toilet paper, so we have to carry these little packs of tissues. Ice water is also huge. Restaurants here don’t provide us with ice water, so we have to drink hot water. But it’s ok. Everything is really cheap here and the people are really nice (except when they’re driving: it is terrifying).
NDiB is pretty challenging, in both the academic and cultural sense. We have a lot of work to do and I still don’t know how to say napkin in Chinese but it’s aight. My classmates and I suffer together, but we also have fun together hahaha. We went to a few “cultural excursions,” 比方说 (for example) we went to the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. The Great Wall was super sick. There were a lot of foreign people struggling to hike the Great Wall, but the view was incredible. 8/8 would highly recommend. Tiananmen Square is cool too, but there were a lot of people there, which made me feel pretty uncomfortable. There were a lot of Chinese people taking pictures of us because we were American (well mostly my caucasian friends), so we felt like celebrities.
In conclusion, even though there are some things that I don’t care for in Beijing (air quality, dense masses of people, and 90+ degree Fahrenheit weather), overall I really love it here. The people are chill, my classmates are fun, the teachers are awesome, and the city is bumping. See you guys next week!