As I stepped foot into the Shanghai airport, I could not have expected what the first few hours in China had in store for me.
From people cutting in line to almost an entire plane feeling nauseous before landing. These first few hours in China were something I was totally unprepared for, while at the same time providing much to keep in mind for the next couple of days.
In China, expect the unexpected.
As my plane landed in Shanghai, I was happy to finally set foot on the ground and see China first hand. I was ready to let loose and start this new exciting chapter of my life; but before I could do that, I needed to pass through immigration.
Getting through immigration was an efficient no-hassle experience and I was in front of the line within 30 minutes, even though somehow my entire flight seemed to have gotten in line before me. But once at the window:
– “Which city will you work in, sir?”
After the 3rd time of receiving an incredulous face for an answer, I showed the invitation letter I received from the Chinese government. The officer at the desk looked at it as if it was written in Chinese (which it was), let out a big sigh, and stamped my passport and said the 3 best words I had heard all day: Welcome to China.
Boom! I had made it to China!
I had made it inside the country and could not wait to start exploring this beautiful land full of culture and history. But before I could do that, I needed to make my way to my second flight towards Changchun.
As I stood in line to check into my flight, I was thrilled with expectation about being in China. In fact, my head could not stop spinning with eagerness and I simply could not wait to savor and get immersed in Chinese culture.
So many things went through my mind!
Will I be able to learn the language?
How difficult can it be? It sounds difficult.
I cannot wait to meet some locals and try some food!
And that’s when I saw it……a couple cutting in line.
What the F? I thought, but finally decided to let it go. Maybe they’re late for their flight.
Minutes later I was finally waiting in line to board my second flight to Changchun. I started feeling the impact of my first 14-hour long flight. Exploring will have to wait until tomorrow.
As the line moved forward and people began to board the plane, I noticed the same couple from before standing near the line. As I reached to get my passport ready, I suddenly realized that the couple was no longer standing besides the line, but were now first in queue and getting their tickets scanned, and with them, a plethora of other people cutting in front of everybody.
Suddenly, the line-up was no more. Only a group of people trying to get inside the plane, as if they were fighting for the last seat.
Surprised, I gave up on standing in line and decided to let everyone else get in. As I sat down, the person besides me simply said to me: I have been living in China for 5 years now. Line-ups do not exist here.
I finally got to board the plane almost last, and fell asleep very much right away. I must have been really tired because I would stay asleep for almost the duration of the flight, to the point that I even missed lunch.
I woke up about 30 minutes before landing to a weird noise coming from a few seats behind.
Pheuark!!! followed by a few eugh! eaagght!!!!! eeagggggght!!!!
What the F was going on?
Then once more, but this time coming from up front.
People had begun to throw up their lives through their lungs! I for one cannot deal with the noises, much less the smell that follows after. I was sort of freaked out by how painful the sounds were, I couldn’t get out of the plane, until I see the girl sitting besides me take her hand to her mouth.
I look at her and asked if she was OK. No answer.
I handed her my puke-bag (sickness bag) while leaning the other way, as I saw that her’s was already full.
The vomiting noises kept going until the flight landed, at which point I was just too grossed out to even care. Was it the food? Or did people just unable to handle a bit of motion sickness, and all decided to take the same flight? I really did not care.
As I finally got out of the airport, I was awaited by a member of the school I would be teaching in who drove me to my dormitory. Along the way, sights of a city I was eager to discover, signs of everything in Chinese and not much in English preparing me for a journey like no other.
I was finally in China.