The day has finally come. I am in China. Just before my trip, I did have a small panic attack after my flight from Beijing to Chengdu was cancelled last minute. Ingrid (THANK YOU!) saved the day with an international intervention involving the United States, London, Netherlands, and China, of course. I felt like James Bond. Dr. Qiu and I are already good friends (or pengyou朋友 in Mandarin) thanks to his trip to the United States with his lovely wife in September. He introduced me to WeChat and I find it miraculous. We can talk between China and the United States on our phones via Wi-Fi for free. Even with Skype, I still find it amazing. I remember calling home in college and being on a tight time limit with the high cost of per minute long distance calls. Dr. Qiu and I like to talk almost as much as we like to send each other cute animated emojis.
I am a little worried about my use of Mandarin. I know just enough to be dangerous and I am anxious to practice. Mandarin is a tonal language meaning the same word with a different inflection can mean a very different thing. The word for grass，cao 草 is said with a tone that goes down and then up. If you just say it going down, it is a swear word. Intimidating, to say the least, but I will do my best to not offend anyone.
Getting off the plane, the first thing I see is McDonalds. I had a clue I wasn’t in Massachusetts when I saw pictures of what looked something like burgers in green buns. Not too appetizing, even to a vegetarian like me. I was thrilled, however, when I arrived at my hotel to a large fruit basket from Dr. Qiu and his wife. Very delicious indeed!
I am very appreciative to have had this opportunity and to have forged such a wonderful connection. I hope to learn a lot on my trip. Dr. Qiu and I have already talked for hours and my intention is to blog about cutting edge topics that interest me. Shelter medicine, Chinese traditional therapies and access to medications are all areas I hope to explore. Please follow a long as I know this is going to be an amazing adventure!