Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The flight from Augusta to Atlanta was short and smooth. We did not have much time about 1 1/2 hours to go from Concourse B to Concourse E (for international flights) at the Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta! We got on our flight, our seats were not together. After a little discussion, the family was seating together.

The 18 hours went by much faster than I realized! I was very surprised, we ate, slept (sitting up of course, IF you call that sleeping), read, watched movies on the back of the seat in front of us so we could select our own and ate, slept, read and watched more movies until our time was over.

I was very glad to see that we were able to follow our flight though our monitors. The flight went from Atlanta up to Canada. Then, started making a long left turn over Alaska, Siberia, Russia and then, down through China. I could even seen the outside temperature and let me just say that being exiled in Siberia would surely seem to be a death sentence. The land looked frozen, barren with deep cracks in the ice. Not exactly on my next vacation list!

We landed in the Shanghai International Airport (Shanghai/Pudong). After we collected our bags and went through customs which was very easy, we were exhausted! We noted a hotel at the airport and thought we would go for showers and a quick nap. Then, something to eat before our next 1 1/2 hour flight to Wenzhou around 9 p.m. that night. We had about a 8 hour layover in Shanghai.

The family checked into the hotel with ALL of our BAGS!! hahahah We looked as if we were moving in.

Luckily, a language translator (pocket size) was purchased before leaving that helped us to check into the hotel for the afternoon. We kept the bags on two carts and dragged the rest of the bags up to our room.

We got into the room, then pulled all of the bags in behind us! There seemed to be a lot of bags. We kept having to climb over the pile to go to the bathroom.

The bathroom had see-through glass! So each of us took a shower requesting that no one look at the other members while they showered! It was very different to be surrounded by glass in the room where the toilet and shower were located.

After our showers, we all collapsed into what we thought was going to be a bed. Instead, it was a piece of plywood with a light cover of bamboo, similar to a bamboo curtain is my best description. It was very different and extremely hard when compared to my pillowtop Serta Posture Pedic Bed in Georgia.

However, I welcomed the board...I mean bed because I was very tired!

We slept and did not notice it was time to go to dinner. So we continued our much needed nap until it was time to board our next flight to Wenzhou. We woke up in time to get ready and go check in for the plane ride.

The flight to Wenzhou was very good and smooth. The flight attendants were courtesy and the information given over the speakers was in Mandarin Chinese, then in English. For a snack, we were served a hot, fresh roll with steamed vegetables inside. It was delicious! To my delight, the drink was sweet tea with lemons! Let me tell you, this was one very appreciative Georgia girl to be on the other side of the world and have sweet tea to my liken.

When we arrived in Wenzhou, we got off the flight, then onto a shuttle bus. After about a 15 minute ride, we went to baggage claim and had no problem getting our luggage. I told the family that we all needed to go to the bathroom because I was not exactly sure how long it would take to get to the Wenzhou University campus.

We were in for a surprise because I had heard about the bathrooms in the east, but I was told that I would see Western bathrooms in the airports. Going to the bathroom, the sinks were shared in the middle of the male and female bathrooms. The toilets were nice, but they are porcelain basins in the floor! So we had to squat to go to the toilet. Also, there was no toilet paper, so it was a good thing I had been told about this. I had packed some tissue paper.

After we washed our hands in the community sinks, we took our bags through the check out area and there waiting for us was the Director of Foreign Affairs. Everyone here seems to have a Chinese (given name) and a chosen English name. The English name is selected by the parents or the individual once they are older. The director's English name is Tom!

He was holding a sign with a welcome from Wenzhou University to: "Professor Cooper & Her Family"! Even though it was almost midnight, Tom appeared to be very excited to greet us, the "foreigners". I'm not sure who was MORE excited though us or Tom!

Tom came around the roped off area to see us. Madison, my 7 year old daughter, was pushing a cart full of luggage and he immediately took over her job and pushed it outside.

We had a driver in a van that Tom spoke to who quickly loaded our luggage. Then, we were off to the university! The drive was about 30 minutes, I noticed quickly that we were indeed in another country by the sights and sounds. It was very interesting.

Once we entered the campus, I noticed the grounds were just immaculate! The grass and landscaping were just beautiful. We arrived at an area that said: "Wenzhou University: C Section Building Area & Living Quarters". There was a gate in a guard house. The guards came out and were dressed in very official uniforms.

There was a very brief discussion between Tom and one of the guards. The only part of the conversation I could understand was: "Professor Cooper", then there was a hand motion to me in the second seat. The guard looked at me and turned back to the guard house, then only a portion of the gate was opened. It was just large enough for the van to enter.

We drove a short distance, past countless bicycles and several buildings. The van stopped at building 12 and I noticed it is 6 stories tall. I had been told that there were no elevators, so I was wondering which floor we would live on. One great aspect I quickly noticed was purified water in the 5 gallon containers business right next to our building. So I knew that we would not have to go far to get fresh water to our room. I had been told to start using bottled water before leaving the states to get into the habit of brushing my teeth and drinking only this type of water.

Everyone grabbed their luggage and Tom was a tremendous help too! We climbed the beautiful polished marble steps to the fourth floor.

As soon as we had all of our luggage in the room, Tom left us that evening stating that he would see us the next morning at 9:30 a.m. to take us to breakfast, show us around the campus and take us to the police station! Madison kept saying: "The police station?? What did we do wrong??" I explained that in China one must register at the local police department whenever they travel.

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