Embarking on a Far East journey
The flight from JFK to Shanghai was delayed by 12 hours; we were originally supposed to depart at 4:35 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, but we didn’t depart until Friday, June 3, at approximately 5 a.m. due to mechanical difficulties.
Everyone on the plane was so calm after the flight was cancelled, except for one man. Their culture is naturally calm and reserved. If the same occurrence would have happened during a flight within the United States, I feel that there would have been more added stress.
The Chinese at the Shanghai airport never smile when they walk by, but they seem to enjoy staring. It’s like they are a puzzle waiting to be solved.
During the entire flight, I was not really aware of what was about to happen; that is, I had no idea what to expect after we landed.
However, when we landed in Shanghai, I was beginning to become more aware of a gigantic transformation in culture. I was embracing the experience through the eyes of one lost in time, but not necessarily in mind, despite the stress of a twelve-hour delayed fourteen hour flight.
Luckily, there were no other flight delays, and we made it to the university on schedule. The first item on our agenda was to attend a welcoming banquet hosted by Dr. Niu Shutian, the advisor of international relations at Shandong University of Technology.
The banquet was enjoyable, and I was glad I remembered my Chinese etiquette concerning serving others and drinking alcohol. Chindou beer was delightful.
It had a strong yeasty taste. I was careful not to drink so much that the server insisted that my glass was always filled. There was so much food, and Chou Chi, one of the teachers/coordinators of our program, sat next to me and made sure that I tried all sorts of authentic Chinese food!
I went to bed feeling slightly unsettled. I wanted to know how they view things from everyday life to complex internal thoughts, and I had no idea what it was like to be part of the Chinese culture. At the banquet, when I looked into the eyes of the hosts, an entirely different world shone into my own eyes.
To set a goal for my experience in China, I want to at least gain somewhat of an understanding what it means to be Chinese, not only by means of our lectures concerning fascinating histories, but by means of the modern culture itself. This task is not going to be easy for one visiting China for the first time, but I will continue to do my best.
— Sarah Halter, a senior English major