Today felt like a complete dream especially now looking back on the long day I’ve had. The clock tells me my day started at 11am and ended at 9pm but that was 12 time zones ago. I’m 12 time zones back now and missing China already. I remember waking up this morning with quite a heavy heart. I was excited to be going home but I was still sad to see my time with everyone in China coming to an end. It was crazy to think that I would no longer spend almost every waking hour with the same 23 people. It was an end to a very beautiful experience.
This morning for the very first time, we had a very late start, which was great because I slept very late the night before. Breakfast seems kind of fuzzy, but what was most memorable was when it came to our first goodbyes in the hotel lobby. The end of the trip started feeling real. We first said goodbye to one of the other students and one of our program coordinators form the Asia Institute. After that we got on the bus, said goodbye to the hotel and our friends, and headed for Shanghai Pudong International Airport. After we checked in it was time for the second goodbye. We were splitting to go to different gates. Our numbers were slowly decreasing. When I finally got to my gate and I put down my things and took a seat to rest, it finally dawned on me that I was not mentally prepared for another 14-hour flight back to the States. I just convinced myself it couldn’t be that bad because I had done it before. The flight wasn’t that bad and of course 14 hours later I was in Chicago and now down to one friend from a group of 29. We barely had any time to get through customs and getting to the right terminal, but we made it just in time for boarding to BWI. When we landed and got our luggage I said my last goodbye and went on my way to home sweet home. This was it. Just like that my China trip was over.
I’ve learned a lot from my two weeks in China. I got to experience a different side of the world for the first time and it was amazing and organized so well for a once in a lifetime trip. Now that I’m back I can honestly say I feel confident using the skills I’ve learned in my future career academically and professionally. I’ve gained so much from learning about perseverance conquering the Great Wall, learning how to be patient dealing with the language barrier and wandering the streets of China unknowingly, and of course learning about respect for cultural differences. I now have a new world view, a broader span of opportunities and of course new friends. This trip was definitely a learning experience that I will never forget. At first, I didn’t know how much I would enjoy China, but now I certainly know I will be returning in the future.