OMG. Today is the day. We are actually going to China today!!!
Still in New York, we had breakfast on the Columbia campus, packed our bags, and had a briefing on what to do at the airport. All of this happened in about 3 hours, as our shuttles to the airport left at 10 am. The morning went by quickly, and before I knew it, I was on that shuttle!
Upon arrival at the airport, we checked in at a special group area and then checked our bags. It was crazy, trying to check 21 bags all at once… and making sure that everyones’ bag was under the allowed 50lbs limit. Mine flew under at 43lbs! We went to security next, which was surprisingly fast because no one was at the Newark airport at 11 on a Tuesday. We got to our gate 3 hours early, so we all had a long time to explore the bounds of the airport. I used this time to walk around, get lunch, and buy some snacks for the plane ride. Sooner than we knew it, we were boarding our plane!
The plane ride was 15 hours long… Thankfully, I had a really fun row of people, which made having the middle seat a little more bearable. I sat next to Abigale and Isabel (the student, not the RD). We talked for a long time to kill the time, which was some pretty cool bonding. To kill the time, I watched a movie (Fences, would recommend), a couple episodes of the Big Bang Theory, and tried to sleep. Sleep. Something I wish I could do better. I only slept for a few hours on the flight, despite feeling exhausted the entire time.
The flight was actually not too unbearable. It was really long, but went by faster than I would have expected. After deplaning, we posed for our first group pic in Hong Kong! However, one student left his wallet on the plane so our picture was delayed by about 30 minutes.
Customs were extremely efficient in Hong Kong and we were through in less than 30 minutes. We met SiHong and Emily, our two local coordinators for nsliy in China. Both were incredibly friendly and bought us bao to eat for dinner. These were some of the best bao I have ever eaten, and this was just airport food! I cannot wait to try more Chinese food here!
We took an hour long bus ride to our hotel and I passed out on the bed. It has sure been a journey, and I’m so happy that it is just starting!