First time I stepped my foot on Chinese soil was September 1st back in 2007. It was a long and tiring flight from Helsinki connected via London to Pudong - Shanghai and took about 20 hours in total. I can still remember it clearly when getting out of the airplane. It was HOT and very humid and nothing I ever experienced before and my baggage was lost (great luck!). The staff at the airport spoke very limited english and I don't think I've ever been as frustrated as I was then. After about 1.5 hours of poor dialogue I gave them the address of my school that I never even been to. There was a bit of problem to write down the address since I could not read anything either. I was surprised that that the bag was delivered to me in just 3 days.
Luckily the school representatives were patient and waited for me by the arrivals gate over 2 hours. They drove me to the campus dorm and again there was some fuss about checking in when being a foreigner. The room was small and when I thought things could not get any worse I saw some cockroaches running around in the room... The bed was hard as a brick and furniture seemed ancient and worn out. But I was happy that I was finally here after such a long trip and just wanted to sleep. However, the people at school wanted to treat me a dinner after a long journey. I had never seen the kind of food ordered, cold half raw chicken, pig ears, chewy meat that could have been bubblegum and hot drinking water. Now when looking back at those days everything feels so distant. I have learned the language here and also so much about the culture, food and society. China is a place of it's own but I would not say it's suitable for everyone coming from the west. People often ask me "So, how is China??" So far the easiest way I have found out to put it is: "Like day and night compared to Finland" Nevertheless, I have had the time of my life and experienced so many things that would have been impossible back home. There are many people who have helped me with so many things. Without all of you, I could never have come as far as I have today, THANK YOU! Not to mention all the awesome friends I met from all around the world! I am also happy that I started this blog because it's an amazing way to look back in time, all those hours spent has not gone to waste. China has also changed a LOT since I came here. Foreigners were not as common in Beijing or Shanghai those days, pollution and traffic has become worse, the government is much more strict about the use of Internet now. Facebook, twitter etc did not use to be blocked before. Visa regulations are also a lot more regulated now and it's changing all the time. Let's see how long I'll stay here and what what new challenges lies ahead! One thing is for sure, I am not afraid of any kind of change, challenges, living in "poor" condition, being surrounded by new people or different culture anymore. When your feeling down, there is only one way to go and it's UP! Don't give in, don't give up, keep your friends and people important to you close, they are the ones who will support you when your facing a hard time! Everything always works out somehow, a way or another.
Now some pictures of the campus we were living in Puxi for about a month before we got our own apartment. It's a bit different than the student houses in Finland, be happy with what you got back home!!
The "washing area", only cold water in this machine. Looks classy!!
The bed that was hard like bricks
My room, this was considered "luxury" among the local Chinese students...
And Nikos room next to mine
Packing up some stuff mom sent me, Finrexin, chocolade and all kinds of nice surprises. 2 kids with no idea what was ahead of them!