Finally here!





We’ve arrived in Beijing after a long flight from Chennai, through Dubai.  I must say though, the Dubai airport was pretty impressive.  It was like a huge shopping mall, but with four and five star restaurants, a McDonalds of course, and plenty to do to entertain us for our 5 hour layover.  I Skyped friends, made phone calls, and devoured my Pinkberry froyo, which felt absolutely amazing.  It’s so funny how quickly we clung to things that were even slightly familiar.  At times I find myself so thankful for random American things I come across, even though I almost never use them at home. Eating pizza or going to McDonalds had never been so satisfying, and not because of how it tasted, but just because it was a small reminder of home. We finally got to Beijing and were greeted warmly by our country coordinators.  It was about 10 pm and everyone was tired, but happy.  I loved the cold, dry air and the fact that I needed socks, full sneakers, and a jacket.  It was a total 180 from the hot and humid weather in India.  We got to our hotel, which was located in the famous “hu tongs” of Beijing, famous for its maze-like alleyways.   Over the next few days, we explored Beijing and all it had to offer.  We went to Tiananmen Square, where famous protests against the Chinese government were held in 1989.  We also went to the Forbidden City, where elites from ancient Chinese dynasties resided for hundreds of years.  We climbed the Great Wall of China, which was incredible.  It extended for miles and was surprisingly difficult to climb.  There were several small caves, uneven steps and stones, and many hills and valleys.  The view from the wall was amazing, but it was even more amazing to think about what happened at the exact places we were walking on the wall.  In our few days in Beijing, we also visited the olympic stadium where the 2008 Olympics were held, which was cool.  Lastly, we explored the nightlife of Beijing, which was a blast.  You meet not only “Beijingers,” but also a lot of other foreigners who are in Beijing for one reason or another.  We met people from all over the world and it was so much fun to share experiences, have a drink, and dance to familiar songs.  Beijing was a great way to kick off China.  It’ll be interesting to see how other parts of the country will be when we visit Changsha.  Traveling as much as we have feels so surreal sometimes. I’ve visited two wonders of the world in two weeks, something that many people won’t accomplish in their lifetime and something that I probably would have never had the chance to accomplish if it weren’t for the opportunities presented to me.  I’m always reminded of how blessed I am to be here and it’s something I’ll never not think about.  Feels good to be here and I’m absorbing every minute of it! Until next time :)