My first day in Shenzhen

by Greg Jackson- HCE Explorer

I landed in Beijing at 2:20 PM, with plenty of time before my 5 PM flight to Shenzhen. I made my way through customs, grabbed my bags, and headed to the domestic transfer line, where all the worker said “Your flight is…uhh…delayed. Go to second floor, check-in China Southern desk.”

Confusing, but manageable. I went through the exit doors, upstairs to the main terminal, and headed to the closest sign that read “China Southern.” The lady was really nice there…but she wasn’t the check-in desk. She directed me around the corner, and wrote down the flight I am supposed to tell them.

I went to the check-in line, as confused as I’ve ever been, and a little anxious. No one could answer my question. No one could communicate what was going on. For the first time in my life, I felt completely and utterly out of place. The woman in the check-in counter gave me a ticket, took my two bags, and pointed me towards security. I had to go through security again, even though customs had cleared me just downstairs? Okay. I went through security, and looked at the flight info. After gazing at it for 5 minutes, I discovered that my flight was boarding. It was 3:20! I flipped out, sprinted to the gate, and made it just in time for the staff to shut the doors behind me.

I landed before 8 PM, spent the night at the program coordinator’s apartment, and commenced my orientation the next afternoon. We ate at an incredible restaurant for lunch. My first authentic Chinese meal was Szechuan chicken, fried rice, fish soup, and roasted eggplant. The flavors are far different than what we’re used to back in the States, and I loved every bite.

For the first time in my life I felt completely, and utterly out of place.

Shenzhen is surprisingly humid, and during the summer, it is very rainy. The program coordinator stated that Shenzhen is subtropical. Indeed, it has many palm trees and tropical fruits are abundant in the markets.

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My host family is upper middle class. The dad is a stock trader and involved in the private equity business, while the mom is a stay-at-home mom. I haven’t learned much about them yet, but they seem like very simple, laid back people. I’m glad that although my first full day in China started out with some turbulence, it ended deliciously.

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