Temperature check

After a long, 18-hour flight from Dallas to Los Angeles to Tokyo, I have finally arrived in the wonderful city of Beijing!

But before I step foot into the city, let me tell you about my experience with the China government’s handling of the current H1N1 virus pandemic:

Upon landing into Beijing Capital Airport, we were stuck on the plane for approximately an hour as airport crewmembers walked around the plane checking each passenger’s temperature. The sight was like something out of a movie!

Luckily, I did not exhibit a fever, but a young girl several rows in front of me apparently had a slightly high body temperature. That was when the paranoia struck. Officials immediately had us put on facemasks, and the entire family of the young girl was escorted out of the plane.

Afterward, we were asked to fill out a form disclosing the recent cities we have visited in the last seven days. Talk about taking extra precaution with this current pandemic!

Living accommodations

After spending two hours at the airport, I finally arrived at the dormitories, known as the Li Yun Apartotel, part of the International Exchange Service Center at Beijing Normal University, our host university. What a great relief and surprise it was to hear that we each have our own separate rooms!

In all, there are 13 students from SMU partaking in this program, along with several students from Rice University and Furman University. We all are staying on the ninth floor, overlooking the city and campus. The rooms are pretty decent: a full-sized bed, desk, closet space, mini fridge, television and our own bathrooms! The first night here, I slept a good 12 hours!

First taste of culture in Beijing

First night on the town, and we visited the well-known area called Hou Hai, a 10-minute taxi drive from campus. Surrounding a large lake, the overall place reminded me of The Shops at Legacy in Plano, Texas, only 10 times larger. There is a huge center area where natives danced along with tourists to the sound of traditional music, and various people played “hacky sack.”

It was definitely filled with culture, vibrancy and a feel of good times. Filled with bars, restaurants, and gift shops, it was a great welcome into the culture of the city. There was even a Starbucks there, a quaint reminder of the globalization of Beijing. It’s evident the city modernized itself for last year’s Olympics.

After visiting the restaurants and local pubs, we headed home with a sense of satisfaction. knowing we visited another great area of town. Will definitely come again in the next two months. Until next time!