by Grace Doerfler
Today was likely one of the most anticipated events of the UDNSLI-Y program—the day we left American soil and journeyed to the other side of the world. Early on Saturday morning, we stumbled, bleary-eyed, downstairs and boarded shuttles to the airport. Excited and anxious, we embarked on a long-anticipated journey of cross-cultural exchanges. Our passage through security and to our gate was uneventful, fortunately, and we soon found ourselves aboard the plane that would carry us to Asia.
Fourteen hours was longer than many of us had ever traveled by plane; we settled down for the voyage with movies or sleep masks, knowing we wouldn’t arrive in Shanghai until Sunday afternoon. The flight crew kept the cabin dark for almost the whole flight, but occasionally a passenger would open a window and let in shafts of brilliant white light. Our flight traveled over the North Pole, then down into Shanghai. The longest part of the journey was over by then, and all that was left was a short flight from Shanghai to Xiamen.
Around 9:00 pm on Sunday evening, we arrived in Xiamen at last! Our plane descended across the bay and touched down on a runway right near the shore. The city’s buildings were illuminated beautifully at night. We took a short bus ride from the airport to the dorm on Xiamen University’s fantastic campus, marveling at the palm trees and skyscrapers. We are all excited to be in Xiamen after several months’ eager anticipation.