Year Abroad #China: Hello Everybody..!

I’ve made it!! I am in China.

On the Monday morning, January 18th 2014,  I left my wonderful family in the slushy snow world of Calgary. The snow was starting to melt, as the temperatures had been quite high for the past week so it turns all the roads into slush city. But I will miss it and the easiness of just living with parents rather than on my own.

The first flight took me to Vancouver then on to Beijing and finally from there, on to Ningbo. As we were up early (I am not an early bird!), we headed to the airport with the intention of getting breakfast. I ended up going for a subway (as you do) and my parents had something like the breakfast muffins from McDonald’s but from a fast food brand called A&W Burgers. Harry only managed a hot chocolate from Tim Horton’s which I’m sure he’ll regret later seeing as we have no proper food in neither the pantry or the fridge! Then I headed off to board my first little flight. Mum was in tears. And right now that does choke me up a little but at the time I was able to put on a brave and happy face. After waving goodbye I commenced my journey to the land far far away.

The flight was quick and easy. We were given pretzels!! (I love Air Canada’s pretzels…) and an hour and a half later we were safely in Vancouver. During that flight, I was sat next to a Chinese lady. It hiked up my fear of “oh god I have to actually speak Chinese properly and be Chinese. Eek.” Nevertheless, I bounded into Vancouver airport and was relieved to understand most of the Chinese characters on the big boards, although translating it was helped by the English being stated above it… Even though many people have told me how Chinese dominated Vancouver is, I didn’t really believe them until I had been in that airport for less than five minutes. There were Chinese people everywhere. One massive group of teenagers passed me, all dressed up in Ice Hockey and another Canadian regalia, and it just made me grin. One reason is because they look cute, the second is that I know that is exactly what I’ll look like when I return home but the cultures the opposite way around! Buzzing!

The next part of the journey was average… what do you expect for and 11 and a half hour flight?  It seemed to go on and on. Luckily I was sat quite near the front so it wasn’t too bad getting on and off. I watched the new Jonny Depp film ‘Transcendence’ which was pretty good. I’d give it seven out of ten. It does make you think about the real dangers of technology advancing so much that it become too powerful for the human race to control. It is worth a watch if you like sci-fi films!

Then I was able to sleep for about two hours and a bit and watched a complete chick flick called ‘Three Night Stand’ which I give five out of ten. Then I saw a film that Chloe mentioned to me a while back, ‘The Book of Life’, which is an animation. It’s really good!! Watch it!! It just brightened my day. The last film I watched was ‘If I Stay’ and I think the director did his job really well. I didn’t see the ending (last ten/five minutes) because the lovely attendant put away my tv. It was quite like ‘a fault in our stars’ but a better plot in my opinion.

One of the flight attendants was very kind to me and has given me three little milk chocolate Lindt bars and one dark one. I am spoilt… I am quite glad she has because I am expecting to rarely eat ‘western’ food from the moment I stepped off the Air Canada flight. The Chinese are not known for eating dairy products so cereal for breakfast in the morning is out the window! Thus for my sugar lows, I have a glorious little stash to get me through. Woohoo! 😀

By the end of all the above, I arrived in Beijing safe and sound. It’s quite a smoggy day here so I can’t see much out of the big airport windows however it is on the northeast side of the city so I wouldn’t be able to see much of the city anyway. At the moment, my body does not know which way is up and is utterly confused with day and time. As I flew west I want to assume I’ve continued going “back in time” and remain behind the UK and now, Calgary. I have flown into the future (I love saying that) and I find working out what time it is with you all is proving ridiculously difficult! So I sat on a free section of seats in a corner of the airport that was near my gate for my final flight to Ningbo.

Is it incredibly sad that I miss having facebook/Instagram to check? I am worried about myself a little right now. I guess I feel rather disconnected at the moment because I don’t have the regular social media at my fingertips. Eesh.

By the time I sat down at six o’clock to wait for my eight o’clock flight to Ningbo I was shattered. As well as not having eaten anything since about three, I was getting cold. Bad combination! So I don’t have my memory of my flight except for the bumpy turbulence at times. I couldn’t keep awake. Until I was jolted awake by landing safely. I found my luggage easily and found the taxi driver to take me to the university. I just felt … ergh.

Once we arrived at the campus, I was dropped at the Staff building so I was waiting at reception for a while for the man in charge to take me to my building. The best part of this whole journey across land and sea was the next moment that followed.As we exited the staff building he says “I have car” so I head towards the one car parked outside however he veers off left to this little motorbike/tricycle thing with a trailer! So I sit

As we exited the staff building he says “I have car” so I head towards the one car parked outside however he veers off left to this little motorbike/tricycle thing with a trailer! So I sit crossed legged in this trailer with my bags around me and off we went! It just made me laugh 😀 Once I had checked in I went up to my flat. Unfortunately, the electricity didn’t work (and still doesn’t at quarter past eight the next morning). I had to use my phone torch light to unpack and sort myself out. The other negative was that it was coldcoldcoldcold!!! I know I packed light but it wasn’t meant to be this cold! Without having had any electricity for probably a month, I knew that it meant it was going to be freezing in here until I managed to heat it up. So I put on a few layers, pulled the spare duvet (thank the lord) out of my wardrobe and slept.

I managed to get six and a half hours sleep. It’s quite noisy here in the mornings! So I was up and dressed by seven. I couldn’t have a shower as the boiler wasn’t on either, so I wrapped myself in lots of layers, brushed my teeth and hair, and went out in search of food and wifi. Did I mention I had no Internet either? Yay…. China….

I ended up walking around all of it. The piece of paper given to me with my keys told me there were three canteens but it failed to tell me where these were. The only clue I had was that the one in building 2 accepted cash. So off I headed. Without much success until I went all the way back round to the student canteen. It was good actually! But they didn’t accept cash. Both Nottingham in the UK and here use our student cards as a method of payment because we can top them up with money. However, in Nottingham, that’s normally only for first-year students. At this campus, it is obligatory that everyone uses it. Thus this lady in the student canteen could not accept my ten yuan note and all I really wanted was some breakfast at this point. Luckily a man offered to pay for mine so I gave him my ten yuan (equivalent to one pound in sterling) and he gave me back my change as if I had done a cash transaction. Yay! I didn’t have loads to eat but I did have egg fried rice and it was just so gooooood. It sparked a little excitement into me about being here again which was nice. 😀

So here I am, back in my building, sat on my bed with my coat still as I write this. I am now going to head out and figure this whole electricity thing out. Wish me luck….

And finally, I want to thank everyone for the lovely messages on Facebook, whatsapp, iMessage etc. I am truly blessed, lucky, flattered, amazed, and HAPPY! I had a bit of a moment when I had a brief look at the latest message on my whatsapp from my wonderful friend Georgia. The fact that she said she’d miss me (and that I’m not seeing the UK for another eight months) and used capslock to wish me well just got to me. I’m not suggesting that Georgia is stoic and never does this.. She is amazing! But it was incredible that the little moments can make such a big difference. So ❤ to you all. To my wonderful friends and family, do not be afraid to skype/whatsapp/email me!! ❤