May 6, 2018
My Friday (5/4) began early in the morning where my family and I got on the road to drive to Pittsburgh’s campus. With a rest stop or two, we had finally made it within seven hours around 2 pm. I was sad to say goodbye to my parents after only seeing them a week after finals had concluded. Yet, I was excited for the adventure that was soon to begin. I met my group an we had a nice dinner at Sichuan Gourmet in South Oakland, my last American-Chinese meal before having an authentic one in China. I ended up staying awake with some people in my group talking about our expectations for this trip or what we were most excited about. It was nice to get to know some more people and made me more comfortable traveling with them. I was so eager that I could barely sleep that night. After all, my travel group and I had to be up early the next day anyways…
2:15 am on Saturday to be exact! We all met in Towers Lobby and got on a charter bus to Pittsburgh International Airport. From there it was a long wait because the workers weren’t even there until 4 am. We finally got on our flight to our layover at the Dulles International Airport. The only downside was that we were stuck at that airport for five more hours until our flight to China! So, that time was well spent between sleeping and getting food. The time finally came for our flight and although I was excited, I was not ready for 13-14 hours in an airplane. I had spent my time on the plane watching many movies and catching up on sleep to prepare myself for the 12 hour time change.
Upon arrival, so many thoughts popped into my head. This is really happening, my first time in China! I can’t wait to see all of the amazing sites and visit companies. These two weeks are going to be astounding. The airport was gigantic and filled with people. One of the differences from U.S. airports was that we had to do fingerprint scans before exiting. Other than that, it seemed like any other airport that I have been in. After getting through, we took a bus to our hotel in Beijing, the capital of China. Our hotel is called the Pentahotel Beijing and is located right in the heart of the city.
The first thing that struck me in the bus was the road structure. The streets of Beijing are very different than in the United States. The main streets are wide with three or four lanes for cars and then there are very narrow one-lane side streets. In addition, they have separate bike lanes as well as sidewalks. The modes of transportation also range. I have seen buses, cars, mopeds, bikes, and even small three-wheel cars on the streets. It is interesting to witness these differences and experience this culture first-hand.
We went to this fancy restaurant for dinner and had a variety of dishes including noodles, fried rice, peking duck, pork, etc. My favorite was definitely the duck! It was a true family-style dinner with a rotating platform in the middle so everyone has easy access to all of the dishes. I definitely ate more than I intended to… oops. The meal was so good that I got back to my room and passed out, but I needed to get up early the next day.
We were going to visit the Great Wall!