Monday, August 31st was the start of a new chapter for my life. It was the first time I ever flew by myself and the first time I had ever been on an international flight. It still shocks me and my family when I say I’m going to China. Although this past week has been an exciting one, it also was pretty hectic – trying to get last minute papers signed and copied and staying up all night the day before, packing and unpacking my luggage to get it under 50 pounds. Even though it was still time consuming I think I fared better than most. The week before I left, my girlfriend helped me determine what I should bring and that helped me a lot when it came to packing. I wasn’t rummaging through my closet and picking out old clothes I never wear and just tossing them in my bags. If it was up to me, I would probably have that ugly orange and red sweater that I bought for Christmas last year in my bag taking up precious space. Before we left they said that there would be washing machines in China, but I still packed about 3-months’ worth of clothes. Every time I picked out one shirt I had to take another 3 with me just to make sure I had enough. My suitcases were still over weight even though I planned it out; it wasn’t until my mom came in like a prison guard looking for contraband did my suit cases get straightened away.
I meet my first three companions at Newark International Airport and the rest joined a few hours later. I was happy to find out that all of my fellow classmates were great people. As soon as I stepped off the plane I noticed many differences. First, the police officers and security officers did not carry any guns. Instead, they were armed with staffs and riot shields. Second, the stores, even though they looked different, still felt like some American stores back home. Third, traffic laws out here are not actually laws; they are more like posted guidelines that one has the option of following. I have seen many cars and e-bikes run red lights and drive the opposite way of traffic. Fourth, if you are a pedestrian walking the streets of Chengdu, a few words of caution: look both ways 3-4 times. Pedestrians here do not have the right of way and often cars will zoom past you, just barely missing you. Out here, the bigger of the vehicles has the right of way. So if you’re crossing the street and a car comes, you have to wait. Fifth, which is a difference I quite like myself, is the food. It is utterly amazing, totally different from Chinese food back home. The food here is less expensive and they give you more of it. They make Chinese establishments back home look like highway robbers. I can get a whole buffet-style meal for just under four American dollars compared to back home where I think the only thing I could get for that price would be two pieces of chicken. All in all, my experience in Chengdu have been great and I will continue to post about my daily life here.
I’ve attached some pictures of the Chengdu American Center and my companions, as well as the gate to our campus.