I can’t believe we are here!! So much has happened in the past 48 hours and I am reeling from it all. Fortunately, everyone is so kind and helpful and we haven’t had a touch of homesickness yet. Everything about our trip out here went well and I am excited to tell you all about it.
The morning of our flight was full of excitement and sadness. We had a large group of family drop us off at the airport to give us one last hug before we boarded. We finally get into the airport and drop off all of our luggage and head to the flight. We first had a hour flight to LA and then the almost 13-hour flight to China. Our flight to LA was delayed 30 minutes and we nearly missed our flight to China. We were running full-speed to get from one terminal to another. Thank goodness that American Airlines had employees with signs all the way to point us in the right direction. We were the last people on the flight and had no time to sit and get comfortable before we took off. We thought that the full process would be extremely grueling but we were surprised to find out that the international planes are fairly comfortable. Each seat has a little television where you can watch shows, movies, or play games. It kept the kid entertained throughout almost the whole flight!
When we finally landed, we had to go through the process of fingerprinting ourselves and going through customs. It was a little hard even with English instructions, but we got through it. I thought that the Beijing airport would be the most crowded place in the world at 2:00pm, but we were suprised at how empty it was. By this time, we had already experienced a little culture shock with the water fountain. It served only hot and warm water and the boy got himself on the hand a little. Oops! Our school had a driver waiting for us at the airport and loaded us and a few other teachers to drive to our hotels. We were put at a Holiday Inn with another teacher and the other teachers went to the dorms at the school. We got to walk around outside of the hotel and see the sights! We even stumbled into a bakery and even found an English-speaker named Sam! He went to Pennyslvania to study English and helped us figure out the more confusing looking food items.
The next morning, the PE teacher that is staying at the same hotel as us ordered a taxi and we headed to the school. It was so big and beautiful, I only got to see a small portion of it! We had trouble finding the North gate because we were dropped off at the East gate and the guards don’t speak any English. But we explored, took pictures, and finally found where we needed to go. We were met there by the teachers we saw on the bus and by our guide, Oriole. She quickly took us to the Police Station to register our visas. After that 10-minute process, we went to go get our Chinese SIM cards. THANK GOD I bought an iPhone before we got there because my Sprint Samsung did not work with the Chinese SIM, but my husband’s Verizon LG did. We still need to get WeChat working properly but we are getting through. After a lunch of pork dumplings (it was a chopstick slaughter, those poor things didn’t stand a chance), we finally went to the bank where I got my new Chinese bank account. It was different than the US because they were able to give me a bank card right then and there. I then took a taxi home ALL BY MYSELF! Then I freaked out because I thought I lost my phone ALL BY MYSELF! And then I furiously chased the cab until I realized the phone was in my back pocket ALL BY MYSELF. Yes, I am glad my family wasn’t there to witness that.
I got back into the hotel just in time to hear Korey and Calvin’s day of exploring. Apparently they became local celebrities at a Chinese restaurant down the road and gorged themselves on Chinese beef skewers. We fell asleep at 4pm due to jetlag and woke up at 2am!! We were hungry and couldn’t fall asleep so we walked to the Seven Eleven to find some food! Believe it or not, they have a ton of options at these ones compared to the USA! I finally got to contact some of my family via Wi-Fi because we can’t make international calls on our phones. For now we have to stick to FaceTime on tablets and computers whenever we can get an internet connection on a VPN. So now I am awake in the AM hours typing this for you! Overall, the first 48 hours have been amazing. I am heading to the school at 9am tomorrow (on a Saturday) to get to know the other teachers more and finish up some more orientation stuff. I don’t know when I might post next but I will continue to post when I have something to talk about! Maybe we will find an apartment soon, but bye bye for now!