One small step for man, One Mao like Great Leap Forward for Tim.
The time is now 10:52pm central, for me though it’s 11:52am the next day. I have been traveling for 18 hours so far with another 5 or so to go. I am still in the air while writing this with JUST two hours, out of 14, left. The flight has been long, uncomfortable, and uneventful. I will admit though it was pretty cool flying over Alaska, Siberia, and just a little above North Korea.
I do want to send out some Thanks to several people whose advice has come in handy so far.
Suzy and Tyson get a big thanks for the slip-on shoes and extra water tip.
My Dad was a big help with his multitude of small tips which are to many to mention, plus the Mike & Ikes he bought me.
Tracy earned a little something something for her timely advice on what to NOT pack in checked baggage.
Last, but certainly not least, I owe the little voice in my head urging me to err on the side of caution to my Mom.
We all made it through customs without trouble and were met by Prof. Ostoyich and his three assistants. The bus ride is proving to be very interesting. I am crossing my fingers we will all live long enough to find a WiFi to post these as our driver is a maniac. And for heaven’s sake I can not fall asleep thanks to the Chinese system of honking I have yet to figure out.
I am all settled in my room in the international dorm on campus. Thankfully it is larger than my dorm room freshman year at the Univ. of Dayton. The bathroom/shower portion flood whenever I shower, as designed, but at least air conditioning works.
For more pictures of my journey and the places I will see please check out my flickr page.
The Many Trials of Air Travel
It’s 11:30 and we are in the air as I speak. Sorry to everyone about the delayed Blog but the Wifi in our terminal was not functioning. I know I promised a particularly concerned young lady a phone call and I’m sorry I was not able to.
So let me start by saying the very small Chinese woman in the seat to my front had reclined her chair ALL the way back. Thankfully my favorite VU student, seated next to me, stepped in and asked her to raise it up. Behind me is another very small women from Korea who SNORES LOUDLY!
Other than that everything is great. My seat buddy is very friendly and the rest of the group was chatty in the airport and spirits, along with anxiety, are high. I, however, am extremely excited!
I plan on writing another blog when I get settled on Friday so stay tuned!
T-Minus 4 Days, 2 Hours, 40 Minutes
I have been channeling Rocky and Apollo Creed through me this past week as I prepare for my bout with China. Now I know to some of you might think the big Russian in Rocky 4 is slightly more imposing but one muscle bound Russian is nothing compared to 1.3 billion Chinese! Have no fear though! I will kick some Chinese Butt!
This past week was supposed to be a quiet time for me to pack and collect myself. I should have known better! First, my bank transfers failed, which meant my currency purchase was not going to happen how I intended. Next, emergency dental appointment, thankfully nothing to be worried about. I was just being a little overly cautious apparently. This is followed by several updates on weather conditions in China… Back to the mall I must go for a few more pieces of essential clothing and footwear.
There has been illness and the passing of a friends father that has also weighted heavily on my mind. I can not help but think of how I would react if anything happened to my family while I was away. I’m thankful I did not leave earlier so I could be here to support everyone effected. After all is said and done I am convinced things will work out and I will have an amazing time in China. I look forward most to the opportunities to travel around China as often as I can. My search for a translator to take with me will begin in the airport
I plan on one more blog entry from O’hare airport and after that Tim will be taking on China! Stay tuned for more frequent updates along with a photo gallery page. I will have FaceTime, Skype, and text messaging on my iPad while in China so if anyone would like to know how to get ahold of me feel free to email me @ Timothy.Branion@valpo.edu
Welcome to the new site!
I’ve been out of touch with my blog the past month or so but have no fear regular updates will be forthcoming.
As I write this time seems to be slipping through my fingers. I feel it was just yesterday I sat here thinking what I would do for the four months before my trip to get ready. Yet, here I am with nine days of work left and only 16 days until I leave. Since we last talked I have been slowly amassing what I call my ‘China provisions,’ everything from q-tips to my MacBook Pro. I have read a lot of material from students and teachers who have taken this trip in the past and they all say less is more when it comes to packing. I just hope as I start packing this up I do not end up with 4 suitcases!
My Chinese lessons are slowly progressing… very slowly… My tutor tells me I am doing well but I feel so unprepared. I hope I can find some people at the university or in my VU group to venture out with and travel some. I want to see and experience as much as I can while I am there and a travel buddy would be indispensable. Have no fear though, if I must a will brave the wild accompanied with my wits and a Chinese English dictionary, and of course my camera. While I am not usually the photogenic type I promise the next four months will be full of pictures and videos for everyone to enjoy.
Anyways…August 24th here I come!
Many thanks and more anxiety.
This week I am taking a two-fold approach, Yin and Yang if you will. If you are not familiar with Yin and Yang it is a Chinese philosophy about how opposing forces are intertwined with each other. I have experienced its effect first hand this week. If you have been following along the past month or so you know I have had times of great excitement, yet inklings of anxious moments too. Meet my own private Yin and Yang.
I had an exceptional weekend of Yin with my family and friends at Suzy’s baby shower. Everyone was full of excitement for Suzy and Tyson, and to my surprise the mood trickled over to me and the Trip. I was ambushed by a throng of questions and just as many “good lucks.” I also got to talk with my cousins who have travelled overseas and two who have lived in China. Their advice, ranging from money matters to W curves, was amazing. Many of my concerns and worries were put to rest. Yin was doing great, winning the day, fighting the good fight, kicking butt and taking names. But, as Bobby Fuller wrote, Yin fought the law (Yang) and on Monday the law won.
Enter our villain, evil Doctor Yang! To my enormous displeasure I discovered the more I talked about the Trip the more anxious I became. The Yin of excitement seems to have pulled up the Yang of worry and concern. This week has been full of restless nights and mornings that came too quickly. The topics of concern are minuscule and will probably never be a problem once I am in China. Thankfully the disquiet injected into me has slowly dissipated and as of Thursday night my Yin and Yang seem to be in balance again.
A quick shout-out to my cousins Ben, Little Mike, and Lori and her Husband! You four were so much help.
Also we have an equipment update.
My new MacBook Pro arrived yesterday. I am looking forward to spending many an hour on it expousing prose for everyone and posting many a picture from my local Chinese tea house.
What I’ll love and hate about being away.
Admittedly, I know very little about China and Hangzhou aside from what Wikipedia has. I am looking forward to experiencing a different way of life. The city is supposed to be beautiful and Marco Polo described Hangzhou as the “finest and noblest city in the world.” From the gorgeous West Lake to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Hangzhou, over 400 years old, there are endless sights to see and activities to partake in. Zhejiang University is one of the top Universities in China and offers innumerable opportunities to expand my horizons. These, plus a myriad of other things, comprise the “Good.”
This weekend the Leusch Clan is assembling in Dayton to celebrate the upcoming birth of my niece Dorothy Back. I am overjoyed for my sister and brother-in law, and of course they know I am awesome and made me Dorothy’s Godfather. Throughout the week I have been thinking of what I am going to miss while in Hangzhou. My family is the first thing that comes to my mind. Their support has always been the rock upon which I depend on. I plan to share as much of my experiences with them as I can but they will surely be missed. I will lose out on four months of Miss Dorothy’s life and for this my sister and Tyson better send me lots of pictures and anecdotes! I am going to miss being able to take off for 8 hours to an old fashion arcade with a buddy and game until we drop. I know it’s rather pathetic but I going to miss my dog Hannah greatly too. The above, plus a host of other small things, comprise the “Bad.”
Now come the “Ugly!” Ah yes, what in the world am I doing? I will be spending four months in a country where I do not speak the language, with people I barely know. What can possibly go wrong?!? I have found I can not fixate on the unknowns, I can only prepare myself to the best of my ability and hope for the best. It is hard to not second guess my decision to travel halfway around the world, but so far I am holding out okay.
I hope everyone back in the States will continue to offer their heartfelt support and guidance while I am away. And for those who are able to post a comment or send a note to me while I am in Hangzhou I will be forever grateful.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Hangzhou
China by way of the Doctor’s offices
Ok, so I’m not a medical miracle, but it does have a catchy ring to it. We’re a little off my once a week posts but last week was a slow one full of anxiety. This week and the next one are full of doctors visits. I have been doing my best to tackle all these hurdles and problems when they appear so I thought I might as well cram my appoints into a week.
Today was a visit with a general physician. My usual Doctor is indisposed for the time being so I had to see a new woman and I was worried things wouldn’t go well. But, amazingly, things went great. This leaves immunizations @ the Health Department, the Dentist, and the Optometrist.
An equipment update is also called for. My Passport arrived last week so my Chinese Visa application is in. I’ve also purchased a leather Passport wallet. Perhaps the most important item is my Intro to Chinese book. One of the students going in the trip has offered to tutor me over Skype for the next few months and I am indebted to her.
On a final note I’ve been thinking about where I’d like to travel in China. As far as I know we’ll be going to Beijing, and to see the clay soldiers. I know I’d like to see the Great Wall also. Any suggestions would be appreciated as I want to see as much as I can.
Willie Nelson and Ray Charles had Georgia on their minds. Me, I’ve got China on my mind.
Over the past week things have been moving forward. By today I’ll be registered for my classes, two language classes and one history class. I had my final yesterday and now I can say, with both excitement and anxiety, my next class will be in China.
My mind seems to be focused on the little things so far though. I had a dinner last night with my Hangzhou group and two Chinese students from Hangzhou. To my delight I found out I’ll be able to goto the local Starbucks for coffee and wifi. This, however,was the only positive detail. I’ve been told Zhejiang University does not have wifi in the rooms, on the other hand they do have electricity meters to ensure I don’t go over my allotted usage. Oh, and the washers are free, the driers on the other hand are nonexistent.
Probably the thing I’m most looking forward to is the food. Street food, tiny restaurants buried down an alley, haute cuisine, and Chinese KFC are all on my agenda. I’ll be sure to pass along the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences I have. My brother-in-law Tyson, with a huge grin on his face, was kind enough to point out the upsides of the “dysentery diet” he’s seen from his time in the Middle East. So I’ll be sure to pack enough over the counter stomach medicine and travel packets of toilet paper to last four months!
Lastly I’m starting my hunt for the essential little things I’ll need while in China. This week brought me a “Clip Safe” travel pouch that attaches to my belt, Dad donated a great Swiss Army knife, and a more rugged case arrive for my iPad. If you have suggestions on what I’ll need abroad PLEASE feel free to leave a comment.
Zhiweiguan 知味观•味庄 Restaurant, one of the oldest in Hangzhou.
Where to begin…
At this point in my life I have decided to veer off the “boring” path and dive headlong into some excitement. For those who do not already know I’ve been taking classes at Valparaiso University going on two years. It has been a long time coming but I will finally finish my Bachelors in History, as my first experience with college in Dayton was more a social experience and less a scholarly one.
Valpo offers a study abroad program in Hangzhou China and when I first heard of it in January it struck me as interesting, but not something for me. Over the past four months I’ve found out more about it and became more interested. One day out of the blue I was talking to my History advisor about China and it hit me. I’d really like to go. After a couple days of thought and testing the waters with my family the choice was made. Tim is going to China!
Zhejang University Main Gate
Since that faithful day a myriad of decisions and questions have arisen. How will I afford it? Is it safe? Can I psychically and mentally survive four months in a foreign country? What do I do about work? And most importantly how do I charge my iPad? Slowly the questions are being answered and the decisions are working themselves out.
So that’s where I am at now. Stay tuned for more of my trials and tribulations leading up to August 24th and then of course my experiences in China.