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Getting to China

by Jai Bartley and Jordan Taylor

Friday, June 29th we left our families and friends and headed to O’Hare Airport. Upon arrival we were greeted by some of United’s team, they helped us check in bags and receive boarding passes. They even became moral support for every girl that thought they went over 50 lbs.

We were then rushed to TSA where security guided us through sitting luggage in bins, taking off shoes, and emptying pockets of metal with ease. Although, some of us got slowed down, they helped us the entire way. Upon arriving to our gate, United surprised us with our own private section and a cake for a celebration before our departure. We grabbed food and got our passports stamped all before 12:15 pm. Then it was time..

Boarding the plane to China was the smoothest process, boarding groups were small and everyone went straight to their seats. Flight attendants reviewed safety procedures and shouted out the mission groups heading to China from Chicago.

Take off and began and turbulence was no joke for a while but soon because a smooth ride. Some went to sleep, some watched movies or some were on their phones and bonding with other ambassadors. This flight was nothing to play with, no sunshine or outside world for 13 hours. They made us feel like the
middle of the day, it was time to go to bed. Helping us adjust to a time difference we’ve never been introduced to helped a lot.

Serving us drinks, all 3 main meals and snacks throughout the flight and always checking to make
sure the passengers were okay on this long flight, the flight attendants made the flight much better. Trying to sleep on the flight was a personal challenge, having to lean and try to make yourself
comfortable in the limited space you have is so hard but ultimately we made it work. Soon, the 13 hours was up and we landed in Beijing.

Immediately following we had to run our fingerprints and get our passports stamped once again, then we met Henry and his colleagues. They welcomed us with open arms, and Henry even carried one of my bags to the bus for me as he began to talk to get to know us.

On the bus we met Tang, who will be our tour guide in Beijing and who also wants to help us improve our Chinese language if we need it. She gave us background history of Beijing and its culture all the way on the one hour journey to the hotel. Maybe five minutes before we arrived to the hotel, it began to pour down and rain and started flooding the streets.

We pulled up to the hotel and all ran inside, to be greeted by curiosity and smiles of other customers of the hotel and the staff. We immediately went to eat a traditional meal in the dining area and it was full of dishes we weren’t familiar with but the food was good. After, we all went to our separate rooms and showered and met to end the night with bonding time by playing Uno and cards on our floors hallway.

So far, Beijing is giving us a warm welcome and we appreciate the effort we see them putting in to make us comfortable.