Thursday, August 27, 2009

En route to Beijing

Well, I'm really at the point of no return now. I'm sitting in the Tokyo airport waiting for my flight to Beijing and using the Delta club's free internet, which is amazingly fast. Its weird to think that its probably the last time I'll have access to facebook for a while- its almost shameful to think about how much time I spent on that site this summer! Also, I'm still unsure whether this blog will work properly abroad, but I'll try to keep everyone posted somehow.

Impressions from today:
It was really difficult to leave my house this morning. I find it ironic that I really want to go on adventures and see new places, but I also get very settled wherever I am and don't want to leave. So I plan big adventures and push the limits of my comfort zone, but as this trip got closer my comfort zone (or at least my confidence in it) began to shrink rapidly. I hope this is something that goes away with time and experience, since I want to travel my whole life, and getting this worked up about it every time would certainly be inconvenient. Incidentally, I'd like to thank all the people who have been around me for the last few weeks for putting up with frantic, panicky me.
I have three legs to fly today- the 3 hour flight from Seattle was the shortest. However, at the end of it the man sitting next to me exclaimed "Oh, what a long flight." And I couldn't help but laugh. I told him I was going on an 11 hour flight next and he looked at me like I was crazy. Well, on second thought, maybe I am.
However, the flight from Seattle to Tokyo was really not that bad, considering. I was in business class (THANK YOU AGAIN DAD) which is altogether a completely different experience from coach. The seats are huge and automated- they even lie almost flat and have a massage option. Then there's a personal tv, free blankets, pillows and slippers, and a flight attendant asking you how you are every 10 minutes or so. But most of all they just keep feeding you constantly. I was stuffed- still am- and they just kept bringing out more things. Dinner was the best I've ever had on an airplane (which, mostly wouldn't be saying much, but it was actually really good). Once again, Dad it was a really great flying experience and infinitely better than coach.
On the flight to Tokyo I sat next to this very friendly Japanese man. At first he seemed awkward and I thought it would be a long flight, but soon enough he opened up and even started showing me pictures of his family, including his 103 year old mother in law. Crazy. He also helped me with luggage and gave me advice about China- "Don't drink the water" etc. I was glad to meet him. It seems that Midwesterners aren't the only people who are friendly to strangers.
Watching Japan through the window as we were landing was really cool. Even from the air you can tell its a different country. Its a patchwork of lime green fields, perfectly square with rigid borders, interspersed regularly with cramped housing and skyscrapers. It looks so distinctly different from the same kind of landscapes that exist in the Midwest and Europe. More manicured and deliberate. It was one of the first moments that I really started to grasp where I was and where I was going. I wonder how China will compare.
Lastly, the Tokyo airport is REALLY warm. No air conditioning. I hope that won't be the case in Beijing, but somehow I don't think so. Sigh. 

Now I've got to get ready to leave for Beijing and the great unknowns of my host family and arrangements. I hope to update again soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting ready to go

This is my first blog post in preparation for my trip to Beijing China on Dickinson's program this fall. I'll be there in a week, which is just crazy to think about. I'm definitely nervous about leaving- its been a great summer. I'm excited- it should be a great adventure. But I'm also nervous about what Beijing will be like, my host family, and the language placement test at Peking University, among other things. I hope that I can keep in touch en masse here and post updates about all these things later, after I figure everything out. To everyone who I won't see before I leave, thanks for all your wishes and prayers. See you next year!