19 Jul Enthusiastic, Petrified, and Apprehensive
The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m from a town of 1,500 people. When I found out that I was accepted to go on this trip to Shanghai, a city of 25 million, let’s just say that I was very intimidated. Indianapolis already felt like a city to me, and in a few short weeks I would be in a city that is 25 times bigger. Before flying to Shanghai, I also had not been on a plane in 10 years; and after a safe take-off, I could not stop looking out the window. Enthusiastic, petrified, and apprehensive I took my first steps off of the plane, and quickly left the international terminal, where I was greeted with an interesting surprise. There was a tunnel of people, mostly Chinese, waiting to pick up loved ones, friends, or even strangers. As the group of 20 Americans walked through the tunnel, I felt hundreds of eyes and dozens of cameras focus on me. I didn’t know what to think at first, but all I knew was that from the moment I stepped off the plane, I had to be open to anything. I rolled with it, posed for some pictures, and made my way to my home for the next 6 weeks.
The following morning, Absolute provided breakfast as we had our orientation session. After a few hours of a lot of useful information, a few laughs, and anxious questions, the group headed to Dapuqiao Station to see the Metro. Embarrassingly overwhelmed with the whole system, I, along with the rest of the group, decided it was time to relax. That night we researched for a chill bar and found a great place deep in an alley (kind of sketchy at first, but amazing by the end), and got our own room. This night turned out to be my favorite of the opening weekend. All 19 of us (Tyler was sick) relaxed, drank (I smoked a cigar), and told stories that we didn’t normally share with people. It really was a bonding moment where I realized that I have a family to support me, while I am 6,000 miles away from home. It was a catalyst for the relationships that would be made in the upcoming weeks and I’ll never forget it.
In all, the first 3 days were not as scary as I thought they would be. I always envisioned myself feeling extremely overwhelmed, but I realized that I had to force myself outside of my comfort zone. Once I did, I was ready for the next challenge. And to think that a kid from a town of 1,500 could survive 3 days in the big city. Only 5 ½ weeks to go!