It's been a long haul. This month, December, around the 17th or 18th, will have first arrived in China, 9 years ago. Was 22 years old at the time.
The job I had lined up was in Nanjing, Jiangsu. Actually applied and was hired for the job while still in the University. Was a December graduate on the 4 1/2 year plan, not out of slackness for those wondering but because decided to turn my minor in the Spanish language into a major, which was another degree...worth extending the process by 6-months.
Applied for the job in November, had a few phone interviews, had to turn in a written paper showing my level of Spanish writing and by early December I was booked to fly to Nanjing, China, the day after my graduation ceremony. This was the definition of "whirlwind". Was still doing term papers, end-of-the-year projects, not to mention, final partying. In confirming to come to China, I really had no idea what I was getting myself in to. My reasoning behind taking the job was that I had nothing better lined up. Not all that romantic...
I had never been out of the United States and more specifically, never had been out of the south-eastern portion of the United States. Closed-off and closed-minded would be an understatement. I didn't know where Nanjing was on a map and couldn't have told anyone the differences in China, Japan, Korea... it was all the same to me.
My flight was from Charlotte, NC to Atlanta, to Los Angeles, to Beijing, finally to Shanghai and then from Shanghai would go by taxi to Nanjing. I hadn't flown since 1994 (7 years prior) and the flight alone had created a nerve-wracking apprehension in me. It was shortly after 9/11 so the airports were busy and there was an uneasiness in the air (not sure if the uneasiness was from the airports or my own nervousness).
Part 2 will be on my first impressions, sights and sounds of Nanjing, China back in 2001.