Saturday, June 30, 2018

My Adventure Begins in Beijing, China

Getting ready to leave home for 1 month.
One month later, as I faced the predicament of if I wanted to leave the country (China) or not, I remembered how my adventure started with a shy, scared American woman who was clueless of the changes that were about to happen. It is truly amazing how much I’ve changed since the beginning of my trip to China. Beijing, the capital of mainland China, sported more stores, restaurants, markets, and Starbucks on one block than I see in an entire city in America.

Yet, there is always a start to every adventure and mine started on May 21, 2018, at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago at 3:30 am. Behind my cloudy vision and muddled sleep-deprived mind, I dragged myself and my luggage into Terminal 3 to check in with Alaskan Airlines. Sadly, Katie (my college roommate who dared to take this leap of faith to China with me) and I arrived too early and had to wait in registration and check-in for nearly an hour. Our drooping eyelids nearly closed several times as we rambled about anything we could think of.
O'Hare International Airport Terminal 3

To my surprise, I wouldn’t need to reclaim my checked luggage in Seattle. I was told that I only needed to find the next terminal, Terminal 2. The Seattle/Tacoma International Airport is massive! Arriving at nearly 9 am in Seattle gave me ample time to find some nourishment before I passed out from starvation. I didn’t need to hurry though as I had nearly nine hours before my next flight, the flight that would bring me to my destination. Katie and I towed around our carry-on luggage for nearly an hour before we found our saving grace—Dunkin Donuts.

Seattle/Tacoma International Airport Terminal 2
I was nervous once I saw the airplane that was going to be taking me to Beijing. I had only flown once before, and it was a domestic flight with my Christian youth group to San Antonio, Texas in 2013. As I entered the plane and looked out my window, I figured out right away that the plane I was in wasn’t the largest. My eyes widened as I saw the Emirates planes. Talk about luxury. Big money was put into those planes. I had heard the rumors about the Emirates Experience but seeing it solidified all the stories.

The next twelve hours were my least favorite part of my trip. Sleeping was impossible when my seat was so straight that sitting was uncomfortable, but it didn’t stop me from trying to sleep in every position known to man. It didn’t work though, so I occupied my time by watching new movie releases, TV shows, and listening to music. The four separate meals also helped with boredom that seemed to plague me for most of the twelve hours. The Delta flight over to Beijing didn’t have free Wi-Fi so I was unable to use my computer until landing. I supplemented my time with thinking about how I was going to break the ice with my host family and if Katie and I would find our taxi driver in time to not be charged an extra fee.  
Delta Airlines

Arriving in Beijing at 7:50 pm (Beijing Time) was a shock. Besides not having slept for over twenty-four hours, getting sick on the plane from the last meal, and using the bathroom more times in twelve hours than I usually do in three days was the least of my problems. I was aware of the air pollution and overcrowded facilities but seeing was again believing. Reaching Beijing was a milestone in my trip and finding my taxi driver and reaching my hotel was another difficult task when my energy levels had hit rock bottom. Katie and I both passed out once we entered our hotel room.

The adventure has started!
This was my first day and the start of a thirty-three-day China trip where I figured out if teaching English as a second language in a foreign country was going to work. The trial period was initiated as my sleep deprived brain shut down for about six hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet. My adventure had started. Five years of struggling, crying, and fearing failure finally led me to the point where I was—finally in the country I always wanted to visit. 

Finally in China!
To find out about the non-profit organization I went through, please visit https://www.chinet.org/ CHI is an amazing organization to go through if you have the heart to travel and wish to share your culture, learn a new language, make new friends, and teach English. Stay tuned for more updates as I documented every day I was living in Beijing. China is an amazing country and anyone who wishes to go off the beaten path will find China to be worthwhile and a rewarding experience. 

Ready to sleep!