I’m sitting at my gate at LAX, trying to finish this pre-departure post before I board my flight to Shanghai in 20 minutes, thinking about how I managed to pull everything together to get here. I’ve cut everything a little close — including turning in this blog post on time.
I’ve been thinking about going to Tianjin for over a year now, but somehow, it came to be 2 days before the application deadline and I realized I hadn’t started my application. As soon as I was admitted in January, I knew I needed a new Visa, but managed to put it off until the end of April, at which point I had no choice but to take a 5am bus to Chicago and go directly to the Chinese Consulate, instead of working through a travel agency. In March, we received information about our textbooks, which I neglected to order until 2 days before I left, necessitating an additional $20 payment for next-day shipping. I have always been a last-minute packer and usually don’t start until 10pm the night before departure — I seldom have time to sleep these nights. This trip was no different. When I got to the airport, the attendant informed me I had booked my return flight for 91 days after my departure, which would not be suitable given my 90-day Visa. I had to immediately change my flight before I could even check my bag.
But alas, it all worked out. And if my ability to get to my gate on time with all necessary clothes and documents, despite disorganization and procrastination, has taught me anything, it’s that everything works out in the end.
That’s something I’ll need to remind myself of over the summer. I am beyond excited to take this step in my education and am looking forward to what this experience will have to offer, but I won’t pretend I’m not nervous. This summer will challenge me in ways I can’t imagine, but I know it will all work out, and in the end, I know I will gain more from this experience than I ever could in a classroom.
I know nothing about Tianjin, I know very little about the university we’ll be at, and despite several years of taking Chinese, I am honestly doubting my ability to regurgitate vocab outside of Van Hise. I am certainly not prepared. But my flight to Shanghai is now boarding…was I supposed to get some vaccinations before I left?