I found out that that I was supposed to write a pre-trip blog post three days before leaving. Needless to say, I didn’t have time to write anything. So, I thought I would just share some of my pre-trip thoughts and emotions now.
I was so very excited to go to China! I had never been to Asia before, so that is one of the main reasons why I choose this particular study abroad program. I was also interested in the Viticulture and Enology program in Italy lead by Dr. Frank, but I had already studied in Italy two summers ago, so I thought it would be better to do something different and explore new lands.
I felt like I was running out of time to finish packing and get all of my arrangements taken care of before leaving. I had to first make it though finals and semester projects and papers. Very inconveniently, one of my professors asked for extra work to be done for one of my projects at the last minute and extended the due date until May 10th (I was flying out of the country at 6 am on May 11th). So I was literally trying to finish my spring semester work down to the last day before leaving. This created a lot of extra stress.
But I got everything done before it was too late. I called my bank to notify them I would be traveling internationally, I went to the ATM and got cash to exchange once I got to China, I went to the health center at UGA to get my Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and flu vaccines, I contacted my family doctor at home to get prescriptions that I would need or might need while abroad, and bought supplies to take (toiletries, bug spray, tissues, etc). Also, our passports with our visas didn’t arrive until a few days before leaving, so that was also worrying me a lot!
Of course, I waited until the last minute to pack, but it eventually got done. I tried to pack light, which is very important when going abroad. You don’t want to have to carry tons of heavy suitcases all over a foreign country or have to pay extra to check your overweight or extra baggage when you fly (I learned all this the hard way when I went to Italy…It isn’t fun rolling two suitcases long distances on cobbled sidewalks). I did ok with shoes and clothes. I only packed 6 pairs of shoes (sneakers, flip flops, shower flip flops, dressier shoes, and two nicer pairs of sandals). I maybe could have done without the one pair of nice sandals. I also did ok with clothes. I brought like three sundresses (I thought these would be nice because they can look nice, but also casual), a few pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, one pair of capris, and about six shirts. I also brought a nice black skirt and blazer for the one day we had to dress up (that was what the dress shoes were also for). I tried to bring basic, easy to wash clothes so that they could be washed and re-worn throughout the trip. I’m one of those people who are always prepared for everything, so of course I also packed a sewing kit, first-aid kit, safety pins, tons of medicine for every possible situation (allergy, respiratory, cold, flu, upset stomach, etc), travel books, sunscreen, etc. I tried to not pack my suitcase completely full, as to leave plenty of room to bring souvenirs and goodies home!
I am a food microbiologist, so I am always very scared of getting some sort of food or waterborne illness, especially when traveling. This was one of my biggest fears about traveling to China. Not getting lost or kidnapped or killed or being in a plane crash, but getting sick… I’m scared of contracting a foodborne disease and dying. Hey, I know it’s irrational, but its what I study, so it scares me.
Overall, I was more excited than scared about my trip to China. I love to travel. It is one of the things that I am the most passionate about. My goal in life is to travel and see as much of the world as possible, and this trip was accomplishing a piece of this goal. I also love to learn, just for the sake of learning, so I was also excited about that aspect of this trip. I couldn’t wait to get to China and immerse myself in the culture. I think I am pretty good about trying to let go of my social norms and things I am accustomed to so that I can really experience and learn about the culture that I am in (except eating foods that may make me sick). I was ready for this journey!