Thursday, July 31, 2008

Getting nervous

With just more than a month before I'm on a plane for Beijing, I'm starting to feel nervous. Very. Now last summer, before I went to NZ, my friends will remember that I was pretty much cool as a cucumber. I was pumped and ready to go, and barely looking back. But in New Zealand, they speak English, eat identifiable food (with a knife and fork!) and poop sitting down, rather than squatting. Oh, and New Zealand is about the size of Colorado. Hard to get lost.

China, on the other hand, is approximately the same size as the United States. I've struggled with how to tackle a destination of such magnitude. Imagine coming to the United States for the first time--You've probably heard of New York, DC and Los Angeles. Maybe a few other cities. But after that, where do you go? I've made some headway in this area and have narrowed the scope of my trip somewhat. I'll delve into this more later.

Now back to the language barrier. The Chinese speak a language that Americans have very little contact with, unlike, say, Spanish (which I can speak to a usable degree) and other European languages. Fortunately, some half-assed studying has somewhat eased my fears of Mandarin. But being able to understand a couple key phrases and blurt out some (perhaps) understandable essential requests doesn't help when you're looking at a map or train timetable.

Does 中华人民共和国 make any sense to you?? I didn't think so.

Yet, I'm also excited. While my time in New Zealand was my "great escape," my travels in China, and other to-be-determined Asian countries, will be my opportunity to see what I'm made of. Can I maintain some level of patience when I can't figure out how to get to my next destination? Will I lose my sanity during those long bus or train rides? (Think of driving across Nebraska and switch out the corn for rice...) How will I get through that first trip to the squatter?

I'm looking forward to testing myself and enjoying all that China has to offer.

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