Overpriced trail mix and conquering jet lag. The journey has just begun.

It’s 4:30am. Three hours down, eight to go here at the airport in Vancouver, Canada. Two flights down, one to go. I am determined to not let jet lag kill my energy and sleep schedule. I am on my way to study abroad for 7 weeks at Shanghai University in China. And as a bonus, I get to see relatives I have only met once before. I am ecstatic for this opportunity and I look forward to sharing my adventures with the world. I must say, it’s been quite a journey already. I am travelling alone, independently for the first time. When flying in the past, I was either with my father or I was a minor under the care of flight attendants and airport security. Now, I am sitting in a 24/7 cafe treating myself to a strawberry pastry, taking in my surroundings and pondering life in the next 7 weeks. My view through large glass windows shows a couple of moving walkways and a galaxy of blue and green lights in the airport runway. The smell of coffee and bacon is filling the air. I can hear luggage wheels rolling across the floor tiles as passengers begin to flood in and grab breakfast. I hear airport employees conversing in French. So far I’ve learned that…

A travel pillow comes in handy when you’re assigned to a middle seat and you don’t want to find yourself sleeping on a on a stranger.

Not all airplane food is complimentary. (silly me) I realized this the hard way when I didn’t read the menu provided in the seat pocket beforehand. I paid $3 for a vending machine-sized pack of trail mix. To those travelling, know beforehand if meals are provided!

Having a light bookbag and maybe a side purse are great for carry-on bags, rather than a duffle. You can wear them and my bag is just small enough to keep under my seat. I don’t have to worry about the hassle of storing it in the top shelves (which adds to the short helpless person image). People are considerate and willing to help however, and for that I am grateful. If you can help it, not storing bags up there doesn’t have to cut into the flow of traffic in the tiny aisles, especially on a small domestic flight.

I have to accept that I look younger than I am. Back in Toronto, a security officer questioned my age and asked if I was 18. When I responded with “I’m 20”, the look of disbelief was something I had seen before. 

The time change can be confusing. I was advised by a fellow friend recently visiting from Singapore to get a watch and adjust it to the time of your next destination. I’m not a watch-wearer but it’s grown on me for the past couple days.

That’s it for my airport struggles and tips for now. I must get some sleep if I’m going to conquer this jet lag and possibly have a normal sleeping schedule in China. Last thoughts…

Going about travelling as an independent for the first time has been a nerve wracking and overwhelming experience so far. But I am truly excited for this opportunity God has blessed me with. I am going to be studying and enhancing my Mandarin speaking skills, something I’ve wanted to do for years before college. I am optimistic that being immersed in the culture will help tremendously. One more flight and I look forward to being warmly greeted by my hospitable relatives…then a week later meeting my summer classmates and moving into my dorm with my sweet roommate. Here’s to first times and an open mind, changed perspective, and an opportunity to discover myself. To my loved ones back home, keep in touch and keep being awesome. You know who you are ❤

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