I am going to China.

It is real, and it is happening.

This news has made it difficult to focus for the past few days. Here I am, finishing up midterms and getting ready to start a new textbook – but I can’t seem to stop imagining:

On August 28th, I will wake up very early in the morning, a lot like last summer before flying to California except totally, completely, utterly, in every way, very different.

It will be really dark outside. Mom and Dad will be downstairs sipping coffee, and I’ll be saying goodbye to Drew, to Aliza, to Alivia for four months. For their birthdays. For Thanksgiving. September, October, November, and until December 17th.

Oh, I am nervous about the world, but at the same time so excited with a confidence I haven’t had with much else.

It will be me and a small suitcase, running over the steps in my head. I think it goes:  check-in, bag check, pass through security, wait for a while, sit by the – what do you call it, a dock? – until the plane is ready and I board.

It will be about an hour of watching the Earth below and trying to breathe before transferring flights in Chicago. This time, fourteen hours. And an ocean.

The sea has never frightened me before in my life. My parents don’t like it much, but I have always loved the deep green water, the foamy waves that rush like a herd of horses, the smell of the air and the whisper of good stories and adventure – my imagination.

The ocean has always been a friend, but for the first time it frightens me. Hours and hours and hours of water, I am finally fathoming how small I am.

I keep thinking of snow. Thinking of my Chinese and Taiwanese friends, and wondering if they were afraid, too.  Recalculating what I will pack and where I will keep my passport. Going over the lines, the steps, the choreography and blocking – the plane will land and then what?

Sound. The only thing I can even half-imagine is the sound.

The words, the lilt of the Chinese language is becoming more and more natural everyday. There have been moments I forgot which language I was speaking, and I often confuse words. The sound of Chinese isn’t strange anymore – it is simply talking.

But en masse? What will that be like, to be the one whose language stands out, to be the one people stare at as the foreigner? I’ll be in Beijing for the first few hours – will I even understand with the strong “er”  accent?

There is so much to be excited for, to prepare for, to pray for. The best I can to do right now is to keep drilling the grammar, the tones, the words as I have been for the past four weeks.

Already halfway through FCI. It has truly flown!