We made it. At 4:02 p.m. (Beijing time), and after an 11 hour flight, twenty of us from Bainbridge Graduate Institute landed safely at Beijing Capital International Airport to begin our summer study abroad session. As we landed, I glanced outside the window of the plane to find that Beijing looked very much like a combination of Houston, TX and Seattle, WA. It was wet, hot, and humid. The ride to the hotel again brought more similarities to light than differences. Guardrails look exactly the same, there’s still a McDonald’s at every exit, and rush hour traffic was backed up as usual. I guess the traffic is to be expected when there’s a population of over 20 million people in the city and a tremendously growing, car-owning contingent. In just the last decade China has become both the largest auto manufacturing country and auto market in the world. The city of Beijing alone is adding over 2,000 cars per day to their already congested streets and highways.

The monitor from the inside of the plane showing our progress towards Beijing.

In the limited time I’ve had to experience the city (which mostly involved walking a few blocks around the hotel and the ride from the airport) one thing I can say about it is that it’s clean. I mean, really, really clean. I haven’t noticed a single piece of trash on the streets at all. As I was walking by, I noticed several shop owners sweeping rain water away from the front of their doors. When I ordered dinner, my plate ware arrived wrapped in plastic and was unwrapped in front of me by the wait staff. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to find out if this cleanliness is due to pride, respect, culture, government regulation, a combination of these, or something else altogether.

Painting above the stairway in the Beijing Capital International Airport

The art is simply beautiful.I haven’t seen much, but their use of white space and accent colors. I’m very excited to see more of that. Today, we have a long day, first visiting the U.S. embassy. followed by a tour the Forbidden City, and culminating with a dinner. I have a lot more to share, but my eyelids are heavy, so I’ll do my best to report on some new things tomorrow. In the mean time, enjoy some a few pictures.

Group of BGI students ready to get some rest after a long flight.

Communication

So far, email, Skype, and LinkedIn are working just fine for me. Facebook and Twitter—not so much. As expected, unless I use a VPN (which is inconsistent at best) to access these sites, using social media platforms will be a challenge. I have been able to get around the Twitter thing by using a third party application rather than logging into Twitter directly, but only when I have access to wifi. However, with all the things to see and do, I'm not so much worried about Facebook right now. I'll post pictures when I return, but in the mean time, I'll be blogging about the experience here. Until next time…peace!