I'm pleased to report that my trip from Beijing to Portland went off seamlessly yesterday, even slightly better than planned, considering that I unexpectedly got to travel with some classmates on the way home. One of the underrated aspects of travel is the unique pleasure of reuniting with family upon returning, and I definitely savored this homecoming, after almost three weeks abroad.
But now, sitting in my kitchen at 7AM (I was wide-awake at 5:30 and may not be conscious for fireworks tonight!) contemplating my trip, I'm not quite sure how to summarize my experiences in a satisfying way. I can't hope but to give myself, much less you, the reader, more than a glimpse into even the very small fragments of China that I was part of, so I've been feeling at a loss. Of course, this feeling could be partly due to the fact that I "lost" my camera ("Lost" in quotes because it turns out that at least one other camera and an iPhone suffered a similar fate that night) while enjoying some Beijing nightlife on our last night together as a group, and am unable to report pictorially on the Beijing Zoo (Pandas!), Olympic Pavillion (Bird's Nest and Water Cube), and my first venture into the wonderful world of Karaoke.
But it's much more likely though that I feel unable to summarize my trip because I'm unwilling to admit that the process of synthesizing experience into knowledge is over for now. During our stint in Beijing our professor often urged us to be in "learning, not judging" mode, a refrain that became a sort of half-joke among many of us every time we witnessed something bizarre. (The predatory-cat house at the zoo has toxic levels of ammonia in the air? Well, maybe that's how the cats like it here! Learning, not judging people!)
And maybe that's summary enough. International travel tends to have that effect - you are so disoriented (dis-Oriented?) that you have to question the thousands of "judgments" that are otherwise constantly and unconsciously permeating your internal monologue.
I hope this journal has been entertaining and mildly thought provoking over the last couple of weeks, and thanks everyone for your comments. It's been great to have this forum in which to extrude and refine my thinking, but I'm ready to give it back to Rosie for a while now!