Destination Reached!

Dear readers,

I finally arrived to Macau around 9.30 p.m on New Years Eve. I say finally because I would not punish my worst enemy with such a messy trip over here. Maybe there was no way for it to be more comfortable, or maybe I am just struck with bad luck, but I was not in good shape when I made it to the College where I am to stay.

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Due to the new year being around the corner, I felt like I should force myself to do something and not just pass out in my bed. Luckily, another exchange student messaged me and we decided to take a walk to the other side of the campus and watch the fireworks from the central parts of Macau. This was perfect, not too big of a stretch, but still enough to be happy I did something this evening.

Last time I wrote a blog post, I was sitting at Arlanda Airport, looking forward to getting on the long flight to Beijing. When we were able to enter the plane, I found myself being placed next to two families with toddlers, one of which had a foldable baby bed which was klicked on the wall right in front of my seat. Now, you might not think this is a big deal, and in some ways you are right. It could have been worse and I adore children. It is just that there is so much going on around children that I had no opportunity to sleep or stretch my legs even. The plane was packed with people so I did not even bother of asking if I could change my seat (the flight attendants had also notices my inconvenient placement) so I just accepted it for what it was. The babies were cute as could be and parents nice, but for my own comfort, it was the worst. Moving on…

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After finally getting off at Beijing, I had not slept, was jetlagged and seriously confused of where to go. All signs were in a different language, and the English translations were not always so detailed.

Also, I am not sure if I was imagining it, but after a couple of minutes of breathing, my throat started acting up and it felt itchy when I breathed in. All around me, people were coughing, and coughing, and coughing… Looking out, I found it was no wonder they did:

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Smog smog smog! It was is everything was covered in a mist. It was even worse in real life, in comparison to this picture. I felt bad for not having those mouth covers, even though I would feel a bit silly wearing one.

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Yours truly and her tired, tired face. I was fighting not to fall asleep. Ironically enough, while sitting and patiently waiting for my next flight and looking at people, I found myself sitting next to the wrong gate. I almost had a heart attack of thinking about missing the flight, so I ran as fast as I could to the other gate. I made up my mind that I was going to pass out and sleep on the next flight, which more or less was what happened.

My last flight stop was Hong Kong, which latter proved to be the most confusing stop during my whole trip.

Now, in hindsight, it was a pretty smart system. But for a clumsy, tired-of-traveling, sleepy Swedish student, it was chaotic.

I could not claim my baggage without going through customs and get a visa permit to stay in Hong Kong, so I was sent to another desk to buy a ticket for a ferry ride to Macau, where I would also be able to claim my bag after I got off. So, I sat down, waited for two hours in Hong Kong, listened in on people’s conversations and tried not to fall asleep.

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Instead, I tried to entertain myself with things because reading was not an option. I looked up the difference in value between Hong Kong Dollars, and Macao Pataca. I took a stroll around the cafés, and finally made my way to the ferry.

After yet an hour on a transport I finally took my first step onto Macanese ground. The first reaction I had when I looked out in the pitch black night, was the feeling of when (in Sweden), during the summer you’re out in the archipelago and the air is almost sweet, and when the sun has set it it still warm outside but no city lights. That was my first initial impression. When I went through customs and lastly was supposed to pick up my bag, there was this enormous line which only grew on the width and not like a tail, which made my Swedish mannered everyone-in-one-line almost lose it. I waited for what seemed to be an eternity, and finally claimed my bag and went out in the night to find a taxi.

I had print screened the address when it was written in Chinese, so when the taxi driver approached me and we could not at all communicate, I just showed him my phone and he started commenting something that he wanted me to confirm, and I just smiled and nodded. Of course I had no idea what he was saying, so I just trusted him in knowing where to go. I glanced at his taxi id-card and he had been working as a driver for at least 15 years, which calmed me down. Seatbelt-less I sat and could not wait to just find a bed where I could lay my drowsy head.

He did find the campus and also the right building. I took my bag out and found my way to the entrance. The security guard said:

– You’re the exchange student from Sweden, yes?

Me: …uhm what wow yes hi, haha. Hi!

– Welcome! Please show me your passport.

He showed me to my room. I went out to find some food. Naturally, I had to buy noodles (because China) and found this:

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I obviously had to buy it. It turned out to be sweetened soy milk which was not the greatest hit, but it helped cool my burning mouth from the hot noodles.

I took my fancy dinner and asked if I could sit down at the entrance with the security guard as company. I was dying to have a dialogue which was not about flights or gates or if I want this choice or that choice as dinner.

Afterwards, I went up to the room and tried to make my bed and sleep. While I was making it, I was thinking of what to do about New Years Eve, which was happening during all of this, and if I should go out and do something despite me being completely broken by tiredness.

As I wrote in the beginning of the post, another exchange student contacted me and we wound up talking a walk and watching the fire works. When I came home, I was so so tired and ended up just taking some clothes and a towel on top as a pillow for the night, and my duvet cover as a blanket. I woke up at 5 a.m and just could not continue sleeping.

So most of my day today has consisted of me, due to tiredness, managing to lock my credit card (fixed it!) and “cat napping” for a good five hours in total, buying some food, a duvet and pillow. Best part of the day was when I ate lunch with my new exchange student friend whom I spent New Years with.

I am still exhausted and trying to figure out how and when I can finish exams I still have from Sweden, and to try to adjust to the time here and not Swedish time (it’s proven to be a handfull).

I miss a lot of people already, just when it comes to little things, like finding new things about this place and share the experience.

Luckily, this blog exists as a replacement for all of my lovely peeps who are at home.

Sorry for the massive post, but now I am synced with you all 🙂

 

Love,

Izabella

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2 thoughts on “Destination Reached!

  1. kaplanfft2016 says:

    You made it!! It looks beautiful there with the mountains in the background. I completely understand your feelings — wanting to eat with the guard, meeting people to have real conversations with, and having to trust the taxi driver. I felt similarly when I arrived in Malmo those first days, knew no one, and had to trust people to help me find my way. Making human connections is like being a person in the desert and finding water — you can’t get enough!! And trying to maintain connections with people at home is hard with the time difference but so important. I looked forward to every evening to talk and text with my family and friends!

    It is very disorienting to be alone in a foreign land but also a great chance to grow and understand the challenges of your students when they arrive in a new place. Reading your post brought all those feelings back for me. I know you will do well!!

    • Study With Bella says:

      Isn’t it wonderful to realize that, even if you are a complete stranger in a new place, people usually really want to help or make you feel more comfortable, no matter what needs you might have? For me, that has been a complete blessing. I am sure you feel the same with when you were in Malmö?
      I totally agree that it is such a challenge to talk to everyone and maintain active in people’s lives, at the same time as I am figuring out my own situation here! I love having this blog, it really helps me in letting all those who want to follow my journey do that, which makes it easier in my communication with others when we do connect.

      Thank you so much for your kind words, as always, I really appreciate you and what you write to me. Thank you for believing in me! I think you will appreciate the next post 🙂 Maybe it will be something you can do with your pupils?

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