Arriving at Tower A in the afternoon on Friday was the start of probably the longest day of my life. At our pre-departure meeting, we found out that we would be leaving the hotel at 2:30 AM for the airport, so almost all of us decided to just stay awake until we left so that it would be easier to sleep on the plane. We had a nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant on Atwood, where all of us practiced using chopsticks and got used to the family-style way of eating meals.
I woke up at 8 that morning, so by the time we got to the Pittsburgh airport, I was at almost 20 hours of no sleep, but I was feeling pretty good. The plane ride to DC was quick, and after a 5 hour layover we began the *very* long haul to Beijing.
It was supposed to be 13 hours and 50 minutes, but I think we landed about half an hour earlier which was really nice. After listening to countless playlists on Spotify and watching a movie (on the person’s screen in front of me since mine was broken) and intermittent naps, we finally made it to China!
The first thing I noticed was the light grey color of the sky, rather than the clear blue that we’re used to. The airport was very crowded, and before we could go through customs we had to have our fingerprints taken which was interesting. Once we made it though, I saw a “Welcome University of Pittsburgh” sign, met with out student guides, and got on the bus for the hotel.
The hotel we’re staying at in Beijing is really nice! Once we got settled in, we met in the lobby and headed over to a restaurant for another big family-style dinner. Whenever a dish is brought out we all take a little bit of it and try it, even if we have no idea what it is. Its really cool trying all these new foods that are authentic Chinese food instead of the American-Chinese food that we’re used to. I really enjoy the way meals are served here, because it allows you to share and try little bits of everything instead of just ordering one main dish for yourself.
We watched the chef carve Peking duck which was super cool, and we used the pieces to make some kind of wrap, kind of like a spring roll. We also had a soothing green tea that was delicious. Just when we thought we had enough food, the waiter would come out with another dish for us to try. We were all stuffed by the time we left to walk back to the hotel, and I was so ready to shower and sleep.
Although it was an extremely long day, the fact that we are in China now is completely worth all of the travel time. Beijing seems like such a wonderful city, and I can’t wait to spend the next few days exploring it with everyone!