I remember feeling restless on August 30th, the night before the flight. I spent my entire summer anxiously awaiting for this day to come, and now it was finally here. The plane ride here was an adventure within itself. I practically spent an entire day in the air. It almost felt like I was never going to get there. However, once I finally landed in Chengdu, everything changed. I made sure not to make any expectations, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to correctly envision what it would be like to step foot on Chinese soil for the first time. When I arrived, I saw that I was correct. China was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The architecture of the buildings definitely caught my eye. You could walk down the street and easily find yourself captivated by something you would never see in your home state. I was beginning to feel very proud of myself for taking this opportunity.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve done things that I never thought were possible. For example, I saw a panda for the first time up close and personal a few weeks ago. It’s nothing like seeing it in a picture; a picture cannot capture the true beauty. Besides that, I’ve been to a couple of clubs around Chengdu. A lot of them remind me of clubs back home, especially when they play popular songs from back home. But other clubs, like Soho, give me a completely different experience. I’ve seen Chinese performers passionately connecting with the audience through their music. I’ve seen how friendly the locals are, and how they admire us simply for being foreign. I know that I am only two weeks in, but I know that it’s only going to get better from here.
The only issues that I’ve had so far mostly have to do with the language barrier. I’m slowly learning Mandarin, so it is becoming less of an issue. But sometimes it can be frustrating to feel like you can’t verbally express yourself to another person, even for something as simple as ordering yourself a meal. That’s another thing: the food. I miss some of my old cravings from back home, such as Raspberry Cheesecake cookies from Subway. I went to a Subway here, and that wasn’t even an option. But the local food here is delicious, so I’m getting by just fine. However, it can be difficult since most places around Sichuan University don’t really accommodate people like me who do not eat pork. So my choices for meals are very limited. I’ve mostly been ordering chicken fried rice, which eventually will stop being appealing to me. I have experimented with other foods, though. For example, last weekend we visited the Tibetan Quarters. A few of us went to a restaurant. I ordered steamed yak fried rice. It was absolutely delicious. I was surprised. I was expecting a foreign taste. However, it tasted virtually the same as regular ground beef. All in all, this has been a great experience so far and I’m glad that I had this opportunity to go.