“It’s like living in an exhaust pipe” – Keir

2014-04-30T14:41:00+00:00 April 30th, 2014|China, Jinan, Shandong, Study China, Travel Diary|Comments Off on “It’s like living in an exhaust pipe” – Keir
Well it’s safe to say that the journey back home was much less eventful and all round enjoyable than the journey out here was. Not that that would be difficult.Our last night ended up being really nice: those of us who were still there just bought a few beers and sat in the hotel lobby chatting. Holly, Catherine and I made a conscious decision not to sleep, as we were all getting the 5am shuttle bus that was provided by the programme. It worked surprisingly well. Showering at 4am having not gone to sleep was an odd but enjoyable experience, and for once pretty much everyone met in the lobby on time, so we were on our way only about 5 minutes after schedule.

As usual though, things didn’t exactly go to plan (though thankfully this time I wasn’t the one who suffered). The bus was supposed to take around 5 hours. We had been told that we shouldn’t book flights for any time before 12 because we would probably miss them. However, there were some traffic issues which meant that despite their best efforts, the people who booked onto flights at half 12 didn’t make them. I felt really bad for them, but at the same time felt like I’d already been subjected to my share of bad luck, so was definitely glad that I’d gone for one a couple of hours later.

Holly and I had a last meal together (and had to search for a while to accommodate my sadly tight budget) before I headed through security to go wait for my flight. Had a near-mishap in which (mum avert your eyes) I thought I’d lost my passport and boarding pass – but luckily the nice people at the check in desk had them. On returning them to me they also tried to offer me the chance to change my flight to the next day because my flight was overbooked. I was sorely tempted, especially at the thought of an extra night in Beijing – plus the 600€ they were offering as compensation – but in the end I turned it down like the conscientious student I am. Had I not had to go back to uni l would have taken it in a second. Damn real life getting in the way.

Anyway, I headed through security and onto the flight with NO COMPLICATIONS and before I knew it I was in Denmark, ready for the thrilling 13 hour stopover before my next flight. Having learnt my lesson from the time I spent 12 solid hours in Madrid airport, I hotfooted it out of there and went for an evening jaunt in Copenhagen, having had some very helpful advice from a lovely guy at passport control. In actual fact, I didn’t follow his instructions (I got confused OK), but nonetheless it was a nice way to while away a few hours, having a look round a new city.

In all honesty, while the city was nice enough – very clean, nice architecture, lots of shops – it wasn’t the most exciting place to be in on your own on a Sunday evening: I’ll definitely have to go back with a group of people one day (when I do a big trip round Scandinavia, which I’m sure will happen at some point!). I grabbed a dinner of smorebrod (v delicious) and a beer and then headed back to my hotel for the night, aka just outside gate D104 in the airport. I have to say, Copenhagen far surpasses Madrid if we’re measuring in terms of airport sleeping facilities (which is what all cities should be measured on, I feel) – I had a great snooze on a sofa in the upstairs part.

Pretty soon I was woken up by crowds of American tourists strolling past presumably on the way to their gate, and I thought that may as well be my morning wake up call. A couple of hours later I was on the way home, ready for the quick turnaround once I was there to head back to uni. Mum met me at Heathrow and provided me with a very welcome breakfast (including sandwiches – very exciting as I hadn’t eaten good old fashioned bread in three weeks). Drove home, unpacked, washed everything I own, uploaded photos to facebook, repacked, then got the train back up to Durham laden down with bags.

It feels weird to be back. The day I got back especially was very disorientating (7 hours time difference really is a lot), and I just hadn’t had time to readjust to being back home before being flung back into another term at uni head first. It definitely doesn’t help that in the first two weeks back I’ve got a formative essay, a 50% summarise essay, and a French oral exam to think about.

But I’ll muddle through, and when I’m despairing, I’ll remember that I spent my Easter holidays in China.