FinnFliesEast, FinnFliesWest. A year in review.
January 3, 2013
I have never been THIS tired in my life. I managed to get about 45 minutes to an hour of sleep on the 13-hour plane ride over. The nice couple next to me attempted to talk to me, but the language divide was too big to really get any ideas across. Thankfully, many of my classmates from Holy Cross were on the same flight as I was on, and we all caught the group bus to CET. I managed to meet a few other future classmates/friends in the Beijing airport. While on the bus, the cars passing by seem similar to those in America, but the signs on buildings were all illegible. After dragging my two heavy bags up to my room on the fourth floor, I decided to make my bed, unpack a bit, and fall asleep as soon as I could. That was 6 PM. It’s now 3 AM and I still feel tired, but can’t manage to sleep…what is this place I’m in?! How am I supposed to sign a language pledge, and swear to only speak Chinese when I can’t even hold a simple conversation with the couple on the airplane?!
June 3, 2013
I’ve purged the unnecessary, organized what’s important, packed, and repeated about three times now. Not that I’m neurotic or anything…I hope! My bags amount to about 40 pounds each, which is more than sufficient. However, I somehow enjoy making sure everything is there, and letting the memories associated with each t-shirt, notebook, and keepsake inundate my mind. After my final pack, I re-checked the spaces in my closet, under my bed, and behind my desk for things I may have forgotten, and walk out the door. I’ve said goodbye to my roommate and all of my friends who aren’t accompanying me on the flight, and checked out with the 师傅. Instead of taking the group bus with classmates (which is expected arrive at the airport at 2:30 for a 3:00pm flight), I decided to hail a taxi at 11:00.On the way to the 车公庄 street, I passed by the small business owners, shoppers, and students that have been members of the small community near CET.
Hailing a taxi was easier than expected, and (thankfully) all of my luggage fits in perfectly. While on the ride to the airport, the 司机 and I talk to each other, at first about my time in Beijing and about his own experiences in the city. However, we continued to converse about different topics such as his rural hometown, his young daughter’s upbringing in the large city, and even about his political views of Obama/Xi Jinping. Although the trip seemed to go by quickly, we arrived at the airport about an hour after we departed. I thanked him, and told him that although my time abroad had ended, I was happy to find one last friend.
After checking into the airport, I decided to grab some Korean bibimbap and head over to my gate. Even though I was early for the departure by about an hour and a half, I wanted to spend some of the kuai I had left, and get a foot massage (the spa was directly next to the gate!）The woman who gave the foot massage recognized my bilingual skills, chatted with me, and ultimately asked for my help. She wanted to know how to politely ask other English-speaking clients specific questions, such as “are you comfortable?” or ”how much time do you have before your flight arrives?” . After writing down my answers, she thanked me, and I left for the gate. My Holy Cross classmates had arrived just as we were boarding, and were pretty stressed out. I didn’t want to tell them that I had just eaten Bibimbap, gotten a foot massage, and even made two new friends! Rubbing all of that in their faces would be cruel. What was most important was that we were all safe.
When I found my seat on the plane, a man and a woman, not related, found the seats next to mine. The woman told me that she was from New Jersey and came to Beijing to visit relatives. The man, sat in the seat between us, explained that both he and his wife (who sat a few rows back) were from the northern city of Harbin, and were visiting his son, a banker in New York City. He had never flown on an airplane before, not to mention travel outside of the country. I realized that he was traveling to a foreign country by himself, and did not know much of the language. He was in a very similar situation that I had been in five short months beforehand. Actually, I am in a similar situation to him even now. My family members and friends are living in the United States, a country that will be foreign to some extent to me. It is the country that I have called home for twenty years of my life, but the US and the people whom I know in it are rapidly-changing. I will have to assimilate yet again, and this time, I will not only value the skills I will develop in the future, but also cherish the skills I have learned while in Beijing. Here’s an article that I found that really showed what I knew I was going to experience: http://thoughtcatalog.com/chelsea-fagan/2012/05/what-happens-when-you-live-abroad/
January 3, 2014
I woke up this morning at 11:30 AM, and did not regret sleeping in one bit. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched that Chinese movie at midnight last night. To be honest, I have been sleeping in almost every morning since my last final in mid-December, and I am not mad about it at all. I keep telling myself that this will be the last time I will be on “break” for the rest of my life— hopefully I will have a job after graduation!
After I wake up, I job-search a little, go on Pinterest, and watch the new season preview of Downton Abbey— The premiere is on Sunday night! However, I look at the bottom-right side of my computer screen, and realize that it has been a whole year since “Finn Flew East”.
Then I looked through ALL of my pictures, all of Lisa’s pictures and videos on her blog (http://kingdomhearter27.tumblr.com/) and some facebook pictures from the semester. Then, I realized that this blog never truly had an ending. I hope I will keep traveling to China, but a new chapter for me will open soon.
I’d like to thank my friends, family, roommate, teachers, and coworkers during this past year for supporting me during my time abroad and back in the states. With all of you, I thrived in an unknown city, spoke a challenging language, and made memories I will never forget.
Until next time,