Today was my last day in China. The other guest artists were on very early flights and mine did not leave till 5:30pm so I had the day to myself. I basically retraced the steps of my first day here a week ago. It was interesting how much more comfortable I have become over just seven days. I did some shopping and even haggled over a price!
My initial reflection on my time here has been that the people seem to be generally happy and less stressed than in the US. The overall pace is slower and gentler. There are definitely restrictions and censorship; like the city billboards are nothing like billboards in our large cities and hotel movie channels eliminated all swearing or any nudity. Also, the three students that were assigned to us were not dating, nor ever had dated. A couple of us were giving Jason a hard time at our last dinner and he was genuinely embarrassed about the prospect of a girlfriend.
Another observation was that after a week I was one of only about a dozen non-Chinese people I saw; except when I was at the Great Wall. That, being a tourist destination, was very cosmopolitan. It was surprising to me that a city as big as Beijing was so mono-cultural.
I’m writing this at the airport where I just learned I have a 3-hour delay due to fog. This will make me miss my connecting flight home so I’ll be staying overnight in Chicago and getting home about 12 hours later than planned. All in all, this was a fantastic experience and would go back to China at any opportunity.