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  • Writer's pictureKayla Grant

Back to the U.S.A

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

August 2, 2019

Everyone was definitely ready to go home. We had a long flight ahead of us this time and everyone was prepared. Some people had melatonin pills and others had a list of movies that we were going to watch on the plane. For me, I was mentally prepared to be sitting on the flight, but I had to make sure that I did not get a middle seat again.

Going through TSA in China was completely different from the TSA that I am use to in the United States. In the U.S., everything comes out of your bag and your sneakers come off. In China, they let you keep off your sneakers and you take out things like your umbrella, computer, and portable chargers. Also, they pat you down after you walk through the metal detectors.

For the first flight (from Changchun to Beijing), I got a window seat. It was a three hour flight. I went to sleep the whole three hours.

However, for the second flight (Beijing to Detroit), I got a middle seat. This was a twelve hour flight. Luckily, Geo held it down and switched with me because he wanted a middle seat. It worked out perfectly because no one sat in the middle, so I had more space to stretch out.

When we arrived in Beijing, we were surprised by some of our hosts from BFSU. My fave, Jemson/Jepson, was there holding up the Clark Atlanta University sign.

As soon as we landed in Detroit, Mike, Reginae, and I went straight to get some good ole Chick-fil-a. I was dreaming about the chicken tenders from the first day in China. Although I could not get the chicken tenders, the chicken sandwich still tasted like heaven. It was so great to be eating great HOT food and using my phone without wifi or a VPN. I honestly zoned out for about 30 minutes, while I ate my food and caught up on everything that I missed from the pass two weeks.

The third and final flight of the day was from a one hour flight from Detroit to Atlanta. I was not going to fly back to New York until the next day, so I had time to take a shower and relax before getting back on the plane. I had another window seat.

Arriving at Atlanta, GA was bittersweet. For a second, we all stood in a group not knowing what to do. We have been traveling as a group for two weeks that it was going to be weird not seeing each other everyday.


Reflection on my Time in China:

In all honesty, I do not know where to begin.

Being able to go to China, at the age of 19, is something that still does not feel real. I went to the other side of the world and got to experience a completely different culture. I climbed the Great Wall of China. Not only did I climb it, but I pushed myself and made it to the top in about three hours. I learned how to use chopsticks. I bonded with people that I barely knew or did not know at all on my campus. It was an amazing experience and I am so glad that I got to go on this trip.

After the Closing ceremony, Mr. Omar asked for volunteers to talk about their time in China. At this point, I was ready to go home and I was over the whole trip from the nasty showers in Changchun to always eating Chinese food for breakfast lunch and dinner to people not understanding what I wanted. There were three speeches (given by Dre, Tay and Mike) that really made me sit there and think about the amazing opportunity that I was awarded. They kept repeating in their speeches that they were not suppose to be there. They reminded me that not everyone got this opportunity and to appreciate what I was given. It was the perfect way to end the trip because it really made me realize everything.

I am glad that I got the opportunity to learn about the Chinese culture. It made me more thankful for the freedom that I do have and it also inspired me to work harder. Although there are a lot of limitations in the United States of America, we have more freedom than most countries. Being in China inspired me to use that freedom wisely. One of the teachers in Beijing was talking about the work ethic of Americans. He said that while he was studying in Chicago for a year, there was a bridge that was being redone and it never got finished. The Chinese people have an amazing work ethic. From a young age, they attend school from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.. They are taught how to work hard for what they want. It definitely is something that I am going to take with me throughout the rest of my life.

Going to China made me want to continue to explore the world. I want to travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Africa, England, and wherever else the wind blows. It is definitely one thing to read about these amazing places and study their culture, but not seeing it and experiencing it with your own eyes is a completely different thing. I had so many assumptions about China based off what I read and what the "#FakeNews" told me, but seeing China with my own eyes and learning about the Chinese culture from Chinese instructors and students who live there was completely different.

In addition to everything that I learned about the Chinese culture, I learned so much about myself as a person. The other students really helped me see something in myself and really learn things about who I am. To Johnny, Ahuoma, Geo, Michael, Joel, Markayla, Tay, Courtney, Reginae, Stephanie, Syd, Kam, Paige, Jazmin, Carla, Dre, Deja, Nicola, and Adoris, thank you so much for accepting me and all of my sarcasm. Thank you for teaching me to always be positive, that I am never alone, and to always appreciate what I have been given.

Thank you to our chaperones, Dr. Henry Elonge and Mr. Omar Harbison, who put up with us when we were late, walking slow, and everything else that happened during those two weeks. Thank you Mr. Harbison for always taking us to the store in Beijing and for giving us the keys on how to get perfect skin. Thank you Dr. Elonge for showing us that you can do a headstand and for being the person to say the two most famous lines on the trip: #HumbleBlackMan and #CAUontheMove. I will surely be stopping to visit you on campus when the semester starts.

Special thank you to Ms. Gwen Wade for seeing something in me and placing me on this trip and to Dr. Eve Graves, who informed me about the trip and inspired me to apply for it. It was an opportunity that I will cherish for a lifetime.

China was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to continue to travel the world.


Thank you for following me on this journey in China. Please do not forget to subscribe to receive email updates about my latest post.

View my previous blog post click here.

Watch my friend's two-part China vlog that I am featured in by clicking here.

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