Breakfast time at our hotel started at 7am until 9am this morning. I decided to head down around 8:30am to meet those who were already there. We had porridge, spicy cabbage, green beans, and hard boiled eggs. As more people trickled down to join us, we started our meeting with Dr. Paik. She mentioned preparing for our lessons and to practice with our partners so we are able to teach to the best of our abilities. We were also given out campus food cards to use for our lunches at the university. When the meeting ended, we all headed to our rooms and met up with our partners. Salima met me in my room where we thoroughly went through our activities. We then went to meet Shanti and the rest of our crew to go on campus for lunch. On the way there, we saw many different boba places, a bakery, few shops, and a market place selling fresh products. As collectively walked into the entrance of the university, we hear a man shout in Mandarin. Everyone seems to pay no attention until he continued to yell. That was when many of us turned around to see a security guard trying to ask us something. Majority of us started to call out for Ben who had walked ahead, but Salima was quick to think on her feet and showed him her campus food card. Once he saw it, he laughed and let us go freely. We continued to walk until we reached our destination. We got to this place that looked like a giant food court. Apparently this was 1 out of 13 on campus! We all walked around to see what delicious meals we could end up getting. All you had to do was grab a tray, point to what you wanted on your plate, and scan your card. We all met in the middle to seat and eat. All our plates were filled with different types of meals. As some shared plates, the rest of us picked at each other’s plates to try the different sides we got. It ranged from different types of noodles, fried rices, skewers, and vegetables. Some were really yummy and others were just nice to try just once. After eating we walked back to the hotel. On our way back, we stopped at the shops near buy. I decided to hold off on the shopping and headed to the bakery to try their super delicious egg tarts. The rest got ice cream at another place that looked extra yummy in this humid weather. Once we got to the hotel, everyone continued to work with their partner to review their lesson plans while Salima and I went off on a mini adventure.
Back in my room, Salima and I decided to message Sean who is one of our student helpers on our trip. I needed to print out copies for one of my activities in my lesson. We met him downstairs and we all walked to a print shop that was more like a hole in the wall with two guys on a computer and a regular printer in between them. Sean relayed our message to him and they were able to finish it in 20 minutes. Sean said to meet back at the print shop then as he needed to meet up with someone else. So Salima and I walked around to kill some time. I wanted to get some boba so we walked next door. We approached the counter to find the whole menu will only a few pictures and rest written in Mandarin. We stand there dumbfounded and immediately leave and laugh at ourselves for not even attempting to order. So we decide to go to the ice cream place even went to earlier to get boba. We head back to the print shop to find out they still need more time. Now, Salima was craving boba. So we attempt to got to the first boba place we originally went to. We both head in ready to try to communicate with the guy at the register until he blurts out, “How may I help you?” In shock, we start to laugh and wonder out loud why he let us struggle and look like fools the first time LOL. Salima gets an amazing lime/lemon drink that was made super fresh. It was so good, I’m pretty super we will be back. We go back to the print shop with no site of Sean still, so we decide to just wait there. The guys offered us seats, we sat, and attempted to communicate with them as we waited. One spoke a little English and the other didn’t at all. We carried our communication over an online translator. Once our prints were finished, we bargained our way for a cheaper price. We got back to the hotel and saw Sean in the lobby saying he never got a text back to meet us, but we believe the print guys were too busy trying to talk to us during that time (hehe).
Dinnertime came and we all met downstairs at 5pm. We headed to a restaurant and filled almost half of the restaurant. We had a lovely range of different dishes like mapo tofu, kung pao chicken, spicy eggplant, and etc. Afterwards, the cohort and student helpers all came up with a plan to meet up for karaoke. At the karaoke place, we were given a beautifully decorated room to ourselves. Everyone was singing their hearts out even the student helpers! We were all surprised at the variety of American songs they had in their system. During this time, I had Cyn come with me to use the restroom. I was in for my first experience: the squatting toilet! Cyn and I were laughing endlessly at my struggle to squat and pee, but I finally managed to conquer it (yay me!) We returned back to the karaoke room and continued to sing with everyone until the end of the night!
Those of us leaving from LAX boarded quickly and found our seats spread out around the plane. We entertained ourselves on the 13 hour flight by watching movies, playing card games, and, of course, sleeping!
We had a 2 hour layover in Hangzhou. China from a bird’s eye view is amazing, and the reality of our trip started to set in as we flew over a tiny part of this massive and beautiful country. Our flight from Hangzhou to Chengdu was much shorter - only 3 hours. We were thrilled to step off the plane right into Chengdu ground and meet the rest of our group who arrived shortly before us.
After we all met up at the airport, we took a 2 hour bus ride to our hotel in Mianyang. We had a little time to get settled and freshen up (some of us had been traveling for 34 hours straight, myself included) and then enjoyed a delicious hot pot dinner around the corner from our hotel!
After dinner, we stopped by a market to get some supplies to make our stays a little more comfortable, such as laundry detergent, hangers, and water jugs. We dropped our new supplies off at the hotel, and our incredibly helpful and friendly student volunteers gave us a tour of part of the campus we’ll be teaching at, Southwest University of Science and Technology (SWUST). It’s an expansive and gorgeous campus, with multiple little forests and ponds.
We are all thrilled to finally be in China and can’t wait to start teaching in a few eventful days!
I am writing this post on the DAY WE ARE ON THE PLANE!!! (Well, arrived by the time this blog post goes up.) I flew in from LAX with 11 of my other classmates and we are all definitely super excited!! The emotions are high, we are all energized and happy for our new journey to start!
I am so excited but am trying not to talk as much because I have a sore throat. It sounds like I’ve been to 5 concerts in the span of 24 hours. This is the first time I have lost my voice but that won’t stop me from having a good experience. :)
Many of us have never been on a plane ride for this long (14 hours), so it will be a new experience. All of us are excited to start teaching the kiddos and experience a new culture. We can't wait to hit the ground running and we are all so blessed to be on this trip!
Next time I see ya’ll, we’ll be in China…. (How cool!!!!)
It is 4am, just an hours away before we make our departure on this amazing journey we are about to embark on. I have so many emotions running through my head as I still have so much to do. I'm currently packing and moving apartments, trying to make everything organized as possible. I started moving 2 weeks ago but somehow it feels like time is speeding 10x faster these last couple of days. Throughout all this, the thrill and excitement of traveling to a new country has given me so much energy. Providing services to children and family in China, sightseeing, new foods, and new friends is plenty of enough keep myself excited. I know we have so much in store for us, as this will be an exciting, fulfilling journey. I’m looking forward to meeting the kids as I can learn from them as much as they learn from us. Predicting what the next 3 weeks will unfold is a hard task as each day will be a new adventure and new learning experience. But, I hope you will continue following our journey.
Dear friends and family,
Today we had our last class before our departure, a sweet celebration for the graduates of the cohort, Salima and myself and a guest appearance from Tommy (2018 study abroad participant). We spent class taking photos, bonding and eating delicious foods brought by the entire cohort. Everyone seems excited and a little nervous in different ways. I feel as though this year's cohort is very strong. Everyone communicates clearly, has big hearts and is helpful to one another. We are all looking forward to working with our Chinese colleagues, teaching our SWUST kiddos, eating delicious food and experiencing this adventure together.
Stay tuned for our daily updates starting May 28!