I arrived in the Atlanta airport 6:00 am on Monday June 22nd 2015. There I met eight of my classmates, who will be joining me in this new experience. Quickly we began to share our apprehension with one another. We soon came to the conclusion that well all shared the same fear and excitment for the trip. We proceeded to check our bags say our goodbyes to our families, then off to our gate to board our plane. Immediately, for some this was a more diffifult task than for others. After eating some top dollar airport breakfast we boarded our first flight to Chicago. The flight to Chicago was like a tester flight for those in the group who had never flown. We arrive in Chicago and looked for the terminal that we would use to board the plane that would take us to a whole new land.
When we finally found Gate T13 we knew we were in the right place. As looked for a place to sit we noticed we were the only people at to board the plane that were not of asian decent. The excitment grew as we waited to board and we made our last few calls in the country took a group photo and off we went. The aircraft destined to take us across the ocean was 10 seats wide and over 50 rows long. After manuvering through several anxious people I found it, seat 55G. Seated to my left and right were eager Albany State University students leaving their old lives behind to be submerged in traditional Chinese culture. Durign the flight I watched three movies, and read half of the inspiring book on financial literacy titles “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. I went to sleep, woke up; went to sleep, woke up and repeat. The flight they said would only last for 13 hours felt like it would never end.
Eventually it did, and as we landed I was overwhelmed with anxiousness. Despite my efforts to rush off the plane to see what lie ahead the massive aircraft took about 20 minutes to unload. When we finally were off we immediatly began to take pitures of everything in efforts to cherish the memory. We thought we would be the only ones taking pictures of things we were seeing for the first time. We would soon find out we were not the only ones seeing something for the first time. As we walked further into the airport to retrieve our luggage and get our passport stamps we could feel the eyes of countless people glued on us as if they saw a ghost. From that moment forward we knew we were not in America anymore.
The process to get into the country was unorderly and took about 30 mintues. When we got through the gates and had our luggage we looked for a man with a sign that read “Albany State University”. On our journey to find him several iphones were pointed in our direction. When we found Mr. Shine with the sign he introduced himself and directed us outside where our van and extermaly hot and muggy air awaited our arrival.
Down what appeared to be an alley lined with several small family owned shops stood the very humble and traditional hotel where we would spend the next two nights. To say the least we were very surprised by its surroundings. Several Americans, including my group and I, have this notion at all of China is advanced. This along with many other indicaters were the first signs that we were sadly mistaken. Mr.Shine our tour guide until our professor arrived, was the only person who knew just enough english to communicate with the group successfully.
Seeing how exhausted we were from our trip he allowed us a few minutes in the hotel to relax before dinner. I sat on the bed and found it very hard, the cushion of the United States beds made me expect that of any bed. Since sleeping in these traditional Chinese beds the concept of an adequate bed has changed tremedously. He informed us that we will be dining at a place named “Hot Pot”. After our short time of relaxation we met in the lobby and headed to HotPot. This place was very small and it was evident that the owners where noit only running their business from there but living there as well. For some this was a very big adjustment from places they have eaten in the past.
I have a very open mind so I decided to give it a chance. The tables where made with an area for an electronic hot plate to be placed inside of it. Mr. Shine ordered for us in Chinese so we had no idea what we were in store for. The food soon came. We were speechless. I had never seen tofu in real life, nor had I ever been excpected to eat meat without knowinng what it was. As you can imagine I had several questions for Mr.Shine. He informed me that it was beef and told me everything in it. I told myself, ” you did not come all this way to be scared to try new things.” so i dug right in. To my surprised I loved the beef! but the tofu still didnt agree with my stomach. As my first day it was alot to take in but I knew there was no turning back.