Ping Tracker

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Done!

Today, I finally bought my plane tickets. Finally. It seems fitting that I (with lots of help) was able to pay exactly 1 month before I leave. Here's the itinerary:

Feb. 21st - Leaving at 7:40pm from DFW
 - to LAX
 - to Seoul
 - to Beijing. Arrival at 10:55am on Feb. 23rd

Once I get to Beijing, I'm planning on checking into a hotel (travel agent's working on it) and going to see a few places: Tiananmen, Mao's Tomb, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, all that stuff. I'm just going to play it by ear, really. One other place I'd like to check out is the Dong Hua Men night market, as made famous by Andrew Zimmern:

Here people can buy all kinds of cool food. Crickets, crab cakes, seahorse, centipedes, lizards, snakes; anything that moves is pretty much up for grabs. 

On my 3rd evening, I'm off to Lanzhou! I'll get there at about 7pm that night, and I'll be met by a teacher and a couple of students, who'll take me back to where I'll be living for the next six months! 

I'll be sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchen, bathroom, and 'necessary furniture and electronic appliance' that's all well and good. I don't know exactly where it is on campus (or which campus, as there are two), but that info is on its way to me right now. I'm really grateful to the university to be getting what I'm getting, because the dorms I have seen pictures of (on Google under the terms 兰州理工大学宿舍),  they're very small rooms with 4 bunk beds, so a 2 bedroom apt is amazing.

I love looking at and uploading all of these pictures, it makes it so much less abstract for you as a reader and me as a soon to be visitor. I'm going to be taking a LOT of pictures. A LOT. I'm also going to be doing a lot of videos (if time permits). I'm going to try to do it in the style of my Nerdfighter heroes John and Hank Green:

What I like about them is that yes, they're funny, and yes, there are a lot of cool sights, but as the videos wrap up, there are lots of little nuggets of wisdom.

The trip is quite a load on my mind actually. I've been planning this trip for about the last six months, grinding out the details, filling out forms, asking for money, paying money, doing this, doing that, and NOW it's ALL DONE. All I'm doing now is waiting for my plane.

In exactly one month from yesterday, I'm going to be going from East Texas to this:

(Sandstorm, fairly common in sping/early summer)

     I can't wait to be there. China is going to be the focus of the rest of my life, and this is the first step into something I've only begun to understand. I will be changed and challenged in ways and situations I can't even imagine right now. There will be struggles, there will be miscommunications, but there will also be a wonderful world of opportunity, not only for school, but for relationships and inner growth. Being there as the first from ETBU to do a semester long study is an honor and a huge opportunity for me to really make the most of my time there. (Because I'll probably get more help being the first when I ask for something than if I was the most recent of 100 students to come). Also, being in the first class of international students EVER to study there will be a huge deal for the University as well as the students. I will be going alone, but by all means, I will not be alone. I have already begun to make friends there online and kept up with friends I already know from there and it is they who will be there for me.

     Friendships not only decrease the amount of suck in the world, but help us to understand how we relate to other people and how relating to those other people makes us feel and grow regardless of language, skin color, or what types of things we do to entertain each other. It is in friendships that we find our solace, even when are at our lowest point, and I am certainly going to have many low points - being away from home, friends, family, English language signs, YouTube, Taco Bell, Facebook, will all take a toll on me, at least at first. But after hearing so many stories about the capacity of love from people who have been in exchange situations, I am in no way worried about finding people who will love me and take care of me if or when I need it.

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