July 28 Journal

As the plane took off at Guangzhou airport, I started to count the time by my watch. It took about 3 hours and 40 minutes by plane from Guangzhou to Tokyo. I had never been to Japan. So I was a bit excited to have a bird’s-eye-view when the plane was about to land. Tokyo was densely populated and was very clean. I saw a mass of green one after another. White windmills were standing in the middle of the fields. I almost thought right away that Tokyo was an agricultural city. The houses were lying around the green fields tidily. The Tokyo bay which offers a long coastline was attractive. Within minutes, we arrived at the Tokyo airport. The plane we took happened to be painted with the panda look on the plane. I only could snap shot the front of the plane which had the black spot on the “nose.”
 
I shopped around the airport during our waiting for the next flight. Fortunately I had my credit card which enabled me to buy drinks and souvenir without cashing some yen. The Japanese who worked at the airport could speak English quite good. I had no problem communicating with them in English even though I had brought my conversational Japanese pocket book. I had no idea about the exchange rate between Japanese yen and Chinese RMB. Anyway I got two drinks from Starbucks and some postcards from a souvenir store. I totally spent about 2,000 yen.
 
Our flight from Tokyo to Chicago was delayed. We finally took off at about 5:10 pm local time. In contrast to the Chinese airlines in which young and pretty female flight attendant is a must, I noticed the crew on United Airline were mostly middle-aged, both women and men. The constant noise from the engine made my sleep on the plane almost impossible. I did take a short nap on and off. The sky above Pacific Ocean was amazing. After passing the International Date Line, the sky became brighter and brighter. As the plane finally flew over the States, I saw the terrain of the western America was flat and brown. It must be the desert area. Then later it came to the mountain area where dark green occupied the entire region. The border between each state was divided by straight lines. That’s so different from the zigzagging province lines in China.
 
After 13 hours exhausting flight, we finally arrived at Chicago. The airport here is super busy. Planes were taking off or landing continuously. I had expected the waiting period of entering the country would be very long. In fact, I had waited at least 30 minutes for my turn to go through Customs. However, after the miserable experience at the US consulate in Guangzhou, I was sort of taking it easy to wait for my turn at the Customs. If you asked me if Americans were friendly, I would say not all of them. I was told to fill out some blanks on the form by a uniformed woman at the Customs. I did not understand what she said; neither did a Korean student behind me. So I asked her again politely and in return a cold repeat about what to do. Well, that’s some American. My suitcases were treated rudely. The muscular uniformed guys at the Customs would not offer help to me at all unless I asked for it. And they just flung my suitcases on the belt. I hate that. So when I got to my destination, one of my suitcases which had a broken handle was damaged slightly in other parts as well.
 
I cannot believe that I am in America now. This has been my dream since my childhood. And I have realized it. My first impression of America is it is a country on the four wheels. Without a car and a driver’s license, I cannot go anywhere especially in the mountainous area where my friend lives. Another impression I have got is Americans eat a lot. I went to the nearby supermarket and I saw those milk boxes, orange boxes and fruits were quite big. The food I had at the deli had to be taken away as I could not finish it in one meal. What’s more, without a social security number, I cannot not do much here, say getting a new cell phone with a telephone company program or borrowing a book from the community library. I was asked if I had a SSN when I was just here for two days. That’s American life!
 
In the recent few days I learned a lot about my friend’s community which provides so many facilities and activities, such as bank, churches, restaurants, garage sales, pharmacies and many others. I was enthralled by the scenery here. New England is really my dreamland. Haha!
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