Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012 Opening Post

Hello Interweb! 

Welcome to my blog, Blog From A Girl To The World! 
Inspired by a song Cecilia's Song once sang, Letter From A Girl To The World by Andrea Ramsey. This song immediately popped into my head when I was thinking about names for my blog. As a first time blogger and world wide traveler, I thought I would blog about my travels half way around the world and report to family and friends back home. 

     I am Laura, a student at Saint Joseph Academy, who is traveling to Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing over my spring break. In two short days I will hopefully have packed, triple checked everything, said my goodbyes and will have landed in Chicago where I will soon begin my first journey out of country. 

     I am 1 out of 19 girls from SJA who are traveling to China with 3 chaperones, one chaperone being our very own Mandarin Chinese teacher Ms. Liu. I am the only student traveling who did not take Mandarin previous to this trip and have zero knowledge about Chinese characters or the language. I could get by if I was going to Spain, but I figured that this trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that I would never travel to China alone, so why not? With the two China meetings I have had recently, I have learned how to say the most important word to me at the moment: Policeman, jing cha. I have collected all of my emergency numbers, currency conversion charts and addresses for the hotels we are staying at. If I do somehow get lost, I find a jing cha and point to the line of characters that indicate that I am lost and asking if they can call the tour guide or get me back to my hotel. Not that I am planning on getting lost while I am there, but I would rather be safe than sorry. 

Now onto the bigger topics of packing, currency, packing and safety issues.
     Packing: a work in progress. I would like to think that I am working at my own pace, but I am quite frankly a bit behind on packing. This evening my mom and I will pull out the suitcase, look at the itinerary and plan outfits for each day. We've started making a list of things I still need to buy like snacks, a pair of yoga pants for good measure and books to read on the 14 hour plane rides.
     Looking at the weather right now, Beijing is  looking pretty good weather wise, mid 60s during the day with sunshine and low 40s at night. Shanghai looks great as well, a little overcast but temperatures in the 60s during the day and 50s during the night. Last but not least, Nanjing looks a little rainy but still temperatures in the upper 60s. Good thing I bought a new rain coat and a purple poncho to wear if it rains so I can match the rest of my Saint Joseph Academy group in our purple blob of people. 
     Currency: I have already exchanged my money with AAA and have received my yuan! I have printed out my conversion chart and will study it on my way out. $1.00 US dollar is equivalent to 6.31 Chinese yuan. t yuan = $0.16 US dollar. 
Packing: did I mention I was a bit behind? I've got time, I think. Even if I were to pack Wednesday before I have to be at the airport at 4pm, I think I would be fine. No mom, thats not what I am planning...lets start tonight by pulling out the suitcase and go from there, okay?  
    Safety issues: I will be buying bottled water everyday multiple times. I am a frequent water consumer, and can't imagine how much water I will drink while I am there. I guess the only way to find out is to go. Tonight I plan on unwrapping and folding a roll of toilet paper, putting piles of toilet paper into small plastic bags that I can carry around during the day for the use of public restrooms. I will also be breaking my yuan at public stores such as Starbucks or McDonalds so I will not have to break my yuan at small shops and risk getting fake money in return for my real money. I sure hope this doesn't happen to me, I am already a foreigner as it is, I don't need any fake money. Too bad I am an easy target, as if being American and not being able to speak an ounce of the language doesn't give it away already, I may be mute while in China using this blog as my form of communication. 

     As I am re-reading my Guidelines For China Trip packet, I am told that China has a low crime rate, yet that pickpockets target tourists (me) at sightseeing destinations, open-air markets, airports and in stores with low-paid security guards. Also, the rate of traffic accidents in China, including fatal accidents, is among the highest in the world, it is often chaotic and right-of-way and other courtesies are often ignored. Ruh-Row. 
I think it is time for my blog to close for the night, I should hop off the computer and start doing something productive for this trip. 

Attached somewhere I will post the tour itinerary for each day and will hopefully find some wifi everyday to post my updates daily! Goodnight Cleveland, 2 days till I get to experience the Chinese world. Until tomorrow, adios amigos! 

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.