So I successfully landed in Pudong International Airport on February 13th after an insanely long journey. It started at about 3am on February 12th, with me and my incredible mother grumpily getting up so I could get to my 7am flight at Bradley International Airport to Chicago O’Hare. From there I went to Tokyo, and then onto Shanghai. Although the journey was rough, with not too much sleep, the excitement of the light at the end of the tunnel kept me going. I have to say that leaving home was one of the hardest things I’ve done. There was a mix of sadness because I knew that I wouldn’t see home for about four months with the sheer thrill that today I would be leaving for my big adventure. I did my best to pack, although I wanted to bring more clothes, but my suitcase wouldn’t allow it :( So I brought the essentials and hoped for the best. Armed with my knitting needles, a good book, sleeping pills and a neck support I was ready to go.
I knew I was supposed to meet my roommate at the airport, but did I know where? No. Did my phone work? No. Great. I officially had my first panic attack because not only did I barely know the language that was being spoken around me, but I had no idea where my roommate was. Luckily, as I walked out into the main exit area, I saw a semi-familiar face holding a sign with my name. Yay! After an adventure (missing our bus, getting on another bus, then getting in a taxi) of about an hour, we finally arrived at Donghua University. I didn’t mind getting into Donghua so late because of one fact: China is still in the middle of New Year’s celebrations, which means fireworks! They were going off all around us. People were throwing firecrackers in the middle of the street, shooting off huge fireworks right next to buildings. It was like the Fourth of July, with fireworks displays all over the city. What a way to experience the city for the first time.
I have to be honest; the next day was rough. Getting up was the worst. We had orientation starting at 9am, so we got up at 7:30 so we could have some breakfast before starting the day. Breakfast consisted of soup with long noodles and vegetables. I can’t remember the last time I actually had soup for breakfast. In any case, it was delicious and just what I needed to get going for the first day. Then about one hour later, during orientation (when I was supposed to be paying attention) jet lag kicked in. Hard. However, I wasn’t the only jet-lagged person. Pretty much everyone else was, too. After listening to a morning full of rules, regulations and past stories of CET-Shanghai students, we were allowed to go have lunch with our roommates.
My roommate’s name is FuJie, although I don’t know what her name means. I really like how Chinese names all have meanings. She’s from the Hunan province and is an animation major. She gave me two little postcards with her drawings on them, which are actually amazing. Since my artistic talent doesn’t go above stick figures, I was pretty impressed.
I’m truly excited for what the next days will bring. Weird food? Interacting with locals? Learning more Chinese? Bring.It.On.