14 Hours + 1 Day

Ni hao!

Alright, my language skills do not go much further than that currently, but I’m learning. So far, I have in my repertoire: hello (ni hao), good-bye, how much?, too expensive, I don’t want this (polite), I like…, this or that, thank you, excuse me, good, very good, not good, bathroom, coffee, tea, water, iced water, stop, listen (only because stop and listen are the same words but with different tones) and the numbers – pretty much enough to go shopping and to bargain.

First of all, the flight is not for the faint-hearted. From Chicago, it was fourteen hours of cramped legs in coach class. Food was interesting, to say the least, with such varied entrees as cold pork and noodles and a pizza served with soy sauce and chopsticks. Now that was interesting. I liked, however, tracking my flight across Canada, Alaska, over the international dateline, and Japan, Mt. Fuji, and then on to China.

When I got to China, it was a fairly easy move through everything at the airport. However, I did have to lug my six suitcases around on one cart – roughly 300 lbs of luggage. At least the carts were free, which is more than I can say for O’Hare, where it’s four dollars for the privilege. Then again, everything costs in Chicago anyway.

Getting to my apartment was easy since the school sent delegates to greet us, which is great considering there are three types of international schools, according to ISS: 1) (the best) – they send someone from the school to pick you up, they transport you, and they have housing set up for you already. 2) (middling) – they send a delegate, but you must find your own housing. 3) (beware) – there is no delegate and no housing for you. You must find your own way from the airport and find your own place to live. Needless to say, if that were my first international posting, I’d probably still be in the States – or I would have booked a ticket right back to the States, fourteen hour flight notwithstanding.

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