Well, the time is here. Only one more week until I on the adventure of a lifetime in China. The main question I’ve been getting this week is ‘how are you feeling?’
It’s surprisingly hard to answer. As I said to someone today, I don’t think the realities of living overseas for a year will really hit me until I step off the plane at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport. I’m excited, obviously, because I love travelling and seeing new cultures. I’m scared, because I’ve never visited China before so really have no idea what to expect. And there is a little bit of sadness mixed in with the other emotions because I’m leaving everything I know to go to China.
There’s only so much you can pre-plan before a trip like this. Being me, I’ve written a detailed packing list and got my passport, visa, insurance and extra passport photos ready. I’ve got a VPN lined up so I can still get on Facebook and (most importantly) Netflix this year. I’ve decided which bags and shoes are coming, and sorted out a good winter coat for the 6 degree weather I’m heading into.
Yet there’s still a feeling of nervousness. I’m definitely not as excited as I was to go to Europe – that was a touristy trip, even though I did study at Cambridge while I was there. I went into that trip looking forward to making new friends and getting to see new places.
This trip feels different. Even though I’m lucky enough to be going with my three best friends from uni, I still feel quite alone. In a fit of honesty the other day, I said to a friend that if it was Europe there’s no doubt I would be excited. China is a bit more challenging – the language barriers are higher, and the cultural differences could be overwhelming.
Well, only one more week to go before I begin my new life in China. This time next Friday I’ll be at the airport waiting to board the 10pm flight to Hong Kong, and on to Hangzhou. I’ve got a lot to do in the next week, and saying goodbye to everyone will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s important to keep looking forward and thinking about all the great things that I’ll experience this year, with my best friends by my side.