Chapter 1: On your Mark, Get Set, Go!
Week 1: January 22 - January 28
January 25 is the day my journey began to China. Leaving a place (California) I lived all of my life to embark on a new adventure as an ESL Instructor. My heart was pounding so fast I thought I was going to have a heart attack. My first time traveling out of the country. It all began when the Airport Shuttle picked me up from my home, took me to LAX (airport in Los Angeles), and dropped me off in front of China Eastern Airlines. As I was standing in the "check-in" line, I said to myself, "This is not happening. I cannot believe I am leaving the states (with one luggage) to go and live and teach English in China for one year. No, this cannot be happening." As the line was moving fast, getting closer to check in, my heart started pounding even faster. Okay, I knew from this point I was going to faint, no doubt. You are probably saying to yourself, "Why was she so scared or nervous?" Before I go further, let me share something else with you. This journey is solo, with no knowledge of the Chinese language, and not knowing what was going to happen once I landed in China. Sure, I probably would have had more confidence if I was traveling to a country that uses the English language as if it is the mother tongue, but since it's not I boldly stepped out on faith.
Before boarding the plane, I met a gentleman (Chinese descent) who works for UCRiverside in California. We chit-chatted while on the shuttle bus going to the plane as to what kind of work we do and why I was traveling to China. By the way, I would like for you to count the amount of times someone asked me why I was either traveling to China, or why I am in China. I will tell you why at the end of this journey if by that time you have not already figured it out. As I was saying, the gentleman, he seemed like a decent man; therefore, we exchanged business cards. He wanted me to keep him abreast of my journey in China.
As I boarded the plane, I sat next to a young lady (also Chinese descent) who lives in West Covina, California. She was going to visit a friend for the Chinese New Year. We talked most of the flight. She shared how much fun and excitement I will have on this journey, let alone, she noticed how nervous I was and told me to just relax and that everything will be fine. My goodness! Was it that obvious I was nervous? Well, having someone to talk to slightly calmed the nerves, and on top of that, watching a handsome male flight attendant (ha ha) that made the 14 hour flight a breeze to sit through for that long period of time.
As I finally arrived at Pudong Airport in Shanghai, China, I followed the crowd to the baggage claim and waited for my luggage to swing around. As I was waiting, both the young lady that I sat next to on the plane, and the man I chit-chatted with on the shuttle bus came and stood next to me to make sure I was okay while they waited for their luggage. That was nice of them. It was faith again that led these two individuals in my path to make sure everything was alright, because I started thinking about whether or not I had enough money to catch a cab to the hotel (JinJiang Inn). The gentleman then asked me about my destination. I showed him the hotel information that my agency emailed to me and he kindly gave me 20 yuan for a cab. As nervousness began to set again, quickly, it came to my mind that 20 yuan would not be enough. Why? because I counted the money as having 3USDollars, saying to myself, "He gave me $3? This is not enough money to catch a cab!" Not thinking that 20 yuan was not the same a $3. Oh what nervousness can do in times of certain situations.
As our luggage finally came around, the gentleman was kind enough to ask the information desk for the location of my hotel and where I can catch a cab. Come to find out, I did not need to catch a cab. The hotel has a shuttle bus service inside the airport that takes people from the airport to its hotel locations. As the gentleman and I came across this information, he kindly walked with me to JinJiang Inn's information desk. From that point, my heart started beating at a normal speed (sign of relief). The gentleman then left me on my own like a bird leaving the nest for the first time. The representative for the JinJiang Inn showed me to an area to wait for the shuttle; eyes on me from every which way you can imagine. As I waited patiently, again thoughts (bubble over head) ran through my mind: Would I be accepted as an instructor?, How will I communicate, not knowing a lick of Chinese? I hope my living accommodations is the same as what the agency showed me from the pictures., etc. Yes, so much goes through a person's mind for good reasons.
As the shuttle arrived to the airport for pick up, the representative kindly gathered everyone together and directed us to the shuttle; eyes were on me still. I started to wonder if I had something hanging from my nose (discreetly feeling my nose); my hair out of place? what? I am self-conscious about things like that, especially when it comes to my hair. Once I arrived to the hotel, I got off the shuttle and went to the information desk to check in, hoping that my agency booked a room for me like they said they did. As I waited patiently (you will see this word used often), the first thing I experienced in China was being pushed while standing in line, and someone cutting in front of me as if I was invisible. Innterestng! (sense of humor).
A male clerk at the check-in desk, actually he was the night supervisor, assisted me. As he was assisting me, a man came up to the counter, and got in front of me wanting assistance. Next, a woman, same reaction as the man, came to the counter wanting assistance. Both times the clerk had to tell them that he was assisting me and that they had to wait. Okay, okay, he did not say this in English, but the (strong) body language was enough to understand what was being said. Body language (seeing and giving), one of the developing talents as an ESL instructor.
Pressing on. As the clerk was assisting me, my representative (Rep.) called the hotel to make sure I arrived. That put me a little more at ease. The agency booked me for two nights (surprised look), and my rep., was scheduled to meet me at the hotel the next day. After the clerk checked me in, he escorted me to my room. The room was decent. I was eager to use my telephone that I brought from the states to use with MagicJack to call and let someone know I arrived safely. Not thinking, when I plug in my cordless telephone to charge, I needed to change the voltage using the converter that I brought; therefore, my elephone blew out (argh). Luckily, I also brought my headset with microphone, and I was able to use it with MagicJack to make calls (sign of relief). Back up plans are always helpful. Back up plans, another developing talent as an ESL instructor.
After I settled in my room, I was anxious to walk around the hotel to see who was there and what was going on, so I took a stroll back to the first floor. I came across another foreigner in the elevator which, I was happy to see. Too bad I could not say the same for him. I acknowledged him by looking his way to say hello, but he did not acknowledge me until close time for us to get off the elevator. When he did make an effort to say something to me, he asked where I was from. I answered, "California". He replied, "Oh, California." As dry as his reply was, I took it as if he was not a big fan of California. I kindly asked where he was from and he answered,"Wisconsin". Okay, how should I take that? Pressing on. As I exited from the elevator, there was nothing too much going on, just people checking in. The hotel was quite busy due to the Chinese New Year. First, I walked outside to enjoy the snow; yes, it was snowing and it was cold. I love cold weather to snuggle up to in front of a fireplace; drinking hot coco, but this type of cold is something I am not use to. Next, I looked around the hotel to see if there was something exciting to see for the night life, it wasn't. Lastly, I went back to my room, got on the computer, and called it a night. Until tomorrow.
chit-chatted = having a conversation about things that are not important
stroll = walk
Chinese New Year = From the Lunisolar calendar (not Gregorian calendar), this holiday is the start of a fifteen day celebration that ends with the Lantern Festival.
JinJing Inn = A large hotel chain in China
MagicJack = A device used for communication through your computer
Please tell me a few things....I just got a email from you. Are you submitting for the writing project or the blog? Can I can get some information on you, who you are where you are from contact info and where you are currently living/
On Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 9:35 PM, goldenthrower [via Expat Women of Color] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Chapter 1: On your Mark, Get Set, Go!
Ms. Cha Jones (Seoul)
My name is Golden Thrower. I believe I am submitting for the blog. I am not aware of a writing project. Thank you for the information. Per your request, see below the information:
Educator - ESL Instructor in HuangShan City, China;
Current graduate student at University of Southern California (USC);
Live in California (currently living in HuangShan City, China);
Contact Info: 323) 247-7993, email@example.com
Thank you kindly.
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