Chasing the Sun

Study China – Day 1


Departing 6am GMT

Travel to Dublin Airport

Flight from Dublin to Heathrow, London 12 Noon

Land at Heathrow 1pm GMT

Connecting flight to Pudong International, Shanghai 3:15pm GMT


Land at Pudong 8:55 am CST (GMT+8)

Bus to Nanjing 11am CST

Services stop 2:35pm CST

Arrive at Nanjing University 4pm CST

Dublin Airport

The extensive journey to China was certainly a steep introduction to my first long haul flight, however these new experiences are what the coming year is to be all about. Flying against the sun across Russia and the peaks of Mongolia brought me a short night of only a few hours and my sleep was as sporadic as ever while traveling, I tend to wake quickly to looking out at the country below. Much to easily distracted some would say, but I have a thing for curiosity.

As the plane descended to Shanghai Pudong International, I finally got a glimpse of the haze of China, the limited visibly slowly revealed a patchwork of rectangular paddy fields drawing us towards the runway.

A lonesome travel so far, bar the heartfelt goodbyes with family in Dublin, arrival at Shanghai brought me company quickly. Introductions and sleep derivation may not be the best of partners, – especially when the first person you meet is attempting to teach you how to speak her name in Mandarin! – But I was glad to meet many of the new faces to be my company during our 3 week study program in Nanjing.

The Airport itself was extensive, but surprisingly quiet for my expectations of a non stop bustle in the country. My preconceptions were a little stereotypical, and given the size of China itself it is clear that the presence of quiet and solitude is certainly available.


In Northern Ireland the saying of , ‘It’s awful close today,’ has been tossed around recently, the country experiencing a heat wave of the high twenties, but none of that closeness compares to the heaviness in the air here. Given my lack of sleep I was lucky this brief encounter only lasted until we started our bus journey north-west, I was certainly more willing to tackle the new environment after some rest.

As mentioned, I found my sleep on the bus journey broken, as I excitedly woke to gaze at the my new surroundings, the grey dense build of the airport soon gave way to expansive green fields, rough and unkempt with the dusty grit of baked earth. Every so often the greenery would break to a canal in which low barges and rafts transported produce from one dwelling to the next, the vessels were rustic at best, ‘repair instead of replace,’ seemed to be the mentality, and by using what is mostly available at the time. This grass-roots approach to technology has a wealth of character, and it stuck me immediately, I am much happier to see the human soul of objects on show like this, it is so much more apparent than in the sheen of a ‘modern’ vessel. There is a craftsmanship and character here, and it is one I will be actively seeking during my stay.

After a quick service stop in which my first visual impression of the cuisine was made, followed by a rather surprising ‘hole in the ground,’ discovery – Public toilets had not been the topic of any conversation I had had with friends who had visited the area – I decided to tuck into some Mung Bean Cake, and a Black Soya Bean drink, a sweet introduction, and certainly quite appealing, I wonder if this grainy, savoury like sweetness was common in the majority of Chinese foods…Passing the plains we began to climb slightly in to hills where we crossed Nanjing’s outer boundary and arrived in the bustling Metropolis of Nanjing city. Stepping out of the Bus and into the hotel for the formalities of starting the program I soon found myself falling happily into bed, tomorrow is a big day full of more introductions, inductions, and adventure. I can’t wait!


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