Yesterday (Monday the 31st of August) we got into Qingdao from Beijing. The airport was a bit frustrating because since we had been in Beijing over 24 hours we were restricted to one 20 kilogram piece of luggage per person, or we had to pay a fee for the rest of our baggage. We finally overcame the language barrier and got that all figured out and made it to our gate and settled in to wait for our plane. When they called our plane number to board, Laura and I were super excited to realize that we would be taking a bus out to the airplane to board from a set of stairs instead of the through the hallway connected to the terminal! A very short plane flight later, we found ourselves in the Qingdao Airport.
As I was walking through the Qingdao Airport, full of excitement and curiosity at the city I would find outside its doors, I paused a moment in my excitement to realize that the next time I would see those halls I would be filled with a very different type of emotion. Airports are interesting places. All of the emotions contained within our human race those halls see. Love, excitement, remorse, anguish, sadness, anticipation, hesitation, nervousness, hello and goodbye, apathy, exhaustion, anger, frustration, sleepiness, hunger, reservation. I have been through all of them at different times in this trip so far, and will go through them again only in reverse when coming back to the states. All healthy, normal emotions, and yet such a wide range and so extreme in their nature it makes things simply exhausting, I think more than anything else related to airport travel.
We walked out and found our van to take us to campus. They helped us load our entire luggage into the back and we got in, Kellen used some of his Japanese to talk to the other two people that were coming to Qingdao University as well. We unloaded from the van and after much jibber-jabbering and instructions about the things we would need to do in the next few days, we got our room keys and were finally able to get our suitcases settled and begin to nest in the room we will be in for at least the next four months. It was fun to unpack and see and remember all of the things I had brought.
A faculty member from MSU that is our contact here was very nice and wanted to show us around Qingdao. She gave us a handout about the bus system and the ones that take you to important places and then took us out to lunch and then to the electronics store via bus no. 301. It was quite a long ways, even by bus and I was thankful for not having to walk. Laura and I both needed converters for our small electronics so we don’t burn them up with the 220 electric current here. We ended up running into some students of the professor and they were nice enough to accompany us and help us find the things we needed, we then went across the street to this mall-type place (malls here are incredibly different from in the US) to get some printer cartridges for the professor. She was very nice and full of information, but I was so extremely tired and worn out from all of the new things and just on overload from everything I had learned that once I got a seat on the bus I sat down and just chilled. A bus ride is only 1 RMB (pronounced kuai) which is about 15 cents! It is incredible, although we still walk a lot because it is more fun :)
We finally got back to the dorms and were hungry again from all of the exertion going around town. We decided to go out to eat again (mostly because the cafeteria had just closed) and had a wonderful meal down the street from campus. Jim got Tsingtao beer (the brewery for Tsingtao beer is here in this city; Tsingtao is pronounced the same as Qingdao for whatever reason) with dinner because the water we ordered was a bit on the sketchy side, and it actually didn’t smell horrible like beer normally does, so I had my first taste of beer ever, and I was also legal (there is no drinking age here)! It was interesting, but not anything I am just dying to have more of.
We got back to campus and all chilled in Laura and my room, but I was exhausted and once I had made a clear spot on my bed promptly fell asleep. I woke up later to take out my contacts and turn out the computer and say goodnight to Laura and then went back to sleep. I woke up at 6:30am.