This is my first post so here I go! Take a journey with me!
Here I am, in China! Three plane rides, a day and a night in Beijing, multiple taxi rides and a 13 hour train ride later, I arrived in Hangzhou, all the way from Ohio. It is here that I will spend the next year of my life. I keep telling myself that when I walk around the town, or step into my small, but perfectly adequate apartment, or walk around the school campus.
Normally, I get pretty excited when I tell myself that, I love traveling and this is a new adventure for me! But then there are times when a little nervous voice crawls out from inside my mind and whispers, “What the hell are you doing here?” Think Gollum from LOTR, and to be honest, I have yet to come up with an answer to that question.
What am I doing here? Finding myself? Nope, I’m pretty sure I know who I am at this point (at least I hope so). Did I come here wanting to broaden the minds of young children and open up a new world of possibilities by teaching them English? Well, that would be really nice, and I hope that happens, but I never grew up thinking I wanted to be a teacher for my entire life (that being said, teachers are awesome)! Or did I come here just to travel? That is probably the best answer, but then again, most of my year here is going to be spent in this city, on this campus. So if I wanted to do nothing but travel, I probably could have picked something other than teaching. Why am I here? Do I need a reason to want to fly around the world away from everyone and everything I know? I’m missing Christmas for this, so I probably should have a reason. I only hope that by the end of my year here I will know what that reason is.
On to less profound questions. How do you pack for an entire year where you need warm weather clothes, cool weather clothes, professional clothes, knock around clothes, etc etc? Pack two suitcases full and pray they stay under 50 pounds (mine were both 49 pounds), stuff the biggest carry-on you can find, and bring a big purse. Even after all that I still wish I could have brought more, especially now that I know my sister raided my closet at home. Realistically, I’ll probably never see those clothes again.
Plane and train rides are boring, so let’s move on.
When the train arrived in Hangzhou, the Hangzhou University students that were in the train compartment next to mine helped me with my luggage, which was so very nice of them. I cannot thank those students enough. I would have been a hilarious, ridiculous mess if it had not been for them.
When I arrived at the school, I was supposed to go meet with the principle right away. Just as a reminder, I started traveling on Tuesday and it was now Thursday and I was not in any shape (smell, if I’m being honest) to be meeting influential people. Luckily, he was in a meeting and I wasn’t able to meet him until later after I had freshened up.
It took me about two days to unpack and on Saturday I went to dinner with my neighbor, who is the only reason I have been able to do anything this past week. She has been simply wonderful to me!I have decided that I will get fat while I’m here. Not that I’m choosing to do so, but I don’t think I’ll have much of a choice. There is so much food for every meal and I want to try it all!
So far I have really liked China! Everyone has been really nice to me and I haven’t had a meal I have not liked, including the bullfrog and ox tripe. I understand that China and I are on our honeymoon right now, so everything is going to be awesome to me for awhile, and then will come the unavoidable, ugly face of culture shock. I hope that I have traveled enough in the past to prepare me for the inevitable dunk into ice cold water that is culture shock. One can only hope!