A quick recap...
Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
3Trip End Dec 22, 2007
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My first sight of China was from my airplane window. What I saw was buildings upon buildings. Millions of people live together, crowded into high-rise apartments and condominiums. It is unreal to me how people can live so close together. Having been raised in the relatively sparsely populated Missouri Ozarks, I found the crowding to be quite an interesting thing to observe.
When I stepped off the airplane in Beijing, the first thing I noticed was the heat
My fellow interns and I took a shuttle from the tarmac to the terminal. That was an experience! We were crowded onto that bus standing up trying to keep our balance as it moved across the pavement. I stood back to back with another person; I do not know who. We were so crowded we used each other as a means of support as the bus swayed from side to side.
Inside the terminal, we walked through several lines to turn in our entry papers. There were so many people there of many different nationalities using many different languages. There were Africans, British, Canadians, Arabs, Americans, and perhaps other nationalities that I was not able to pick out of the crowd not to mention the Chinese. One thing I noticed was that the Beijing airport seemed hushed in comparison to Chicago's noisy O'Hare airport. I found this interesting since there were as many if not more people there as at O'Hare. There almost seemed to be a feeling of hushed expectancy as if everyone felt the same excitement and awe that I did about being in a new country.
The other two interns and I thought that someone was going to meet us at the Beijing airport, but apparently something was not communicated to us, so the other interns and I gathered and toted our baggage through the airport to our gate. An entrepreneurial Chinese man came and "helped" us find our gate and get everything lined up for our flight from Beijing to Dalian, the city where the school we are working and studying is
Once we had rechecked our baggage and gotten our boarding passes for the hour long flight from Beijing to Dalian, we settled in to wait for our flight to arrive. We had gotten to Beijing around 4:00 p.m. and our flight was not due to leave until 7:00 p.m. We sat in the lobby next to our gate for quite a while when a Chinese lady came up to me and asked me if I had flown into Beijing from Chicago. I was beginning to wonder how in the world she knew that I had, when she explained that she recognized me from the flight. I wore a cowboy hat on the flight over and that became my identifiable characteristic. She was a Chinese-born American citizen going back Dalian for her sister's wedding. She was very well spoken and told us that she worked in a bank in Chicago. I found it amazing that another American would take the exact same flights to the same places where we were going.
The flight to Dalian was a little bumpy, which was interesting. When we got to the Dalian airport and had collected our luggage we made our way towards the exit where, much to our relief, we saw someone holding a sign with our names on it. By that time we were so exhausted that we would not have done very well on our own trying to find the University or a place to stay for the night. The people who picked us up from the airport were very nice
Our first sight of our apartment building was not very enlightening as it becomes dark quite early in China compared to Missouri. All I could see was a lighted doorway and beyond that stairs. We climbed the stairs up to the third floor where our apartment is and were cordially welcomed into our little palace. It is a wonderful apartment with nice hardwood floors, comfortable furniture and very elegant, modern décor. I was in awe. My first apartment was perfect. My room was fully furnished, down to the thoughtfully provided pair of shoes to wear around the house. I felt quite at home.
The next morning I woke up before five a.m. and was fully awake. One of the very first things I did was look out my window to see what could be seen, which was not much at five am. As the sun rose, however, and more became visible, I was enchanted. I saw a little park outside my window in the next apartment complex with a large goose, reminding me of the one in the Mother Goose stories from my childhood, and strangely shaped objects- which I discovered as I watched, were exercise equipment. As I looked on, I saw a man come out and start swinging back and forth on one of the things. For the longest time I could not tell what he was doing, but as the light became brighter, I saw that he was exercising. I then noticed more people coming out and doing morning exercises. I find it fascinating, the way the Chinese exercise so diligently, for every morning, as I watch, I see the same people going into that park and doing the same exercises. Some exercise vigorously and others do the sedate Tai Chi
There are so many things to tell about China. There are so many new sensations here, sights, smells, and sounds, that it is hard to separate them out and evaluate them properly. My first few hours in China were a wonderful, exciting time. As I spend more time in China, I am being constantly exposed to new and strange sensory challenges which sometimes delight me, or sometimes disgust me. From the wonderful traditional Chinese music, to the smell of garbage rotting in the street, China is filled with interesting stimuli. The culture is intriguing. It is so strange, yet quite enthralling. These people live differently from me, but as I stay here, the more things I find in common with them. I love their culture. I am at ease in it, which is more than I can say, many times, about my own!
This is a paper that I wrote for English which I thought that you all might like to read.