August 14, 2015:
In just twelve short days, I will be flying across the entire world to begin my four-month adventure of living, teaching, and traveling in China?! How? How… How how.. how how how…!?!? When I first got accepted to volunteer abroad through the International Language Programs, I started counting down the days until I was to embark on the experience of a lifetime. Those five months of waiting turned into two months, and then two weeks. Looking back at how quickly my time waiting has passed proves to me how quickly my time in China is going to pass. Do I have any expectations? Sure. I expect that teaching will be difficult and sometimes frustrating, but there will be instances where the struggle will be all worth it. I expect that I will fall in love with my kids, just as every previous volunteer has admitted. I expect to get homesick. I’ve lived in the same city for almost twenty years, and therefore to move to an entirely new and different continent guarantees myself some homesickness as well as culture shock. I expect to be scared of the food and wish I were back in America with my Chipotle and Planet Smoothie. I also expect to see things that my mind could never even dream of! I’ve heard so far that China is absolutely beautiful. I have so many expectations, both positive and negative. However, until I get there, I can’t be sure of anything at all. What I do know for sure is that this is an opportunity of a lifetime and I made the right decision to choose to volunteer abroad in a foreign country. To exceed the limits of our comfort zone and then continue to run far far away from it will force us to grow and do things we never thought possible for us.
Yesterday, I spent most of my morning and afternoon organizing and packing my things to take to China: some clothes, all of my teaching supplies, toiletries, and little random things like my travel journal and kindle charger. Most of it is all packed up into my two suitcases, carry on, and personal bag. Once I go shopping for my American comfort food, a little rearranging of things will be necessary thanks to the kind 50 lb limit airlines place on our checked luggage.
It’s beginning to kind of, sort of, just a little bit, maybe feel real… barely. I recognize in the back of my mind the thought: “yeah, China, I’ll be going there. I’ll be there soon, that’s super cool! What an awesome experience!” But I keep failing to realize it’s not just something in the back of my mind anymore. It’s a reality that’s approaching way quick.
Like I said months ago, I probably won’t entirely understand the reality of it until I’m on that plane on the way to my new home on August 26.
I’m super pumped to meet my fellow volunteers and the cute Chinese children that I will be teaching so soon!
Until my next update, zàijiàn! (good-bye!)