3 Stages Before Take Off

Golden dragons danced their ways through city streets as the beautiful ladies with powdered faces greeted onlookers. Royal chants echoed for all to hear while tourists gazed at the elders of the city practicing Tai Chi for stress free living. Fantasizing about this mystical land before my departure, I entered a mental journey—an epiphany that consisted of three stages with very different emotions, all preparing me for my voyage ahead.


At the start of the summer, all I could think about was my decision to go abroad. Having majored in biology at Morehouse College, I jumped at the opportunity to further my education and gain new life-enhancing experiences outside of the U.S. Studying abroad in Shanghai offers me the chance to be enveloped by a new culture and see the world through a different lens. Shaking with excitement, I imagined myself standing atop the Yu Garden Bridge, shopping at People’s Square, and meditating at the Jade Buddha Temple. My whole life I dreamed of traveling to China and this was my opportunity to make that dream a reality.


However, my enthusiasm would soon subside as I began to analyze the trip in its entirety. While China is an amazing place to visit for most, I began reading blogs that explained others feeling isolated and stared at for their differences. Blog after blog, site after site, people explained the Chinese’s perception of individuals from the west. In not wanting to be ostracized or treated with prejudice, feelings of nervousness would start to find a home in my consciousness. Thoughts of “What would they think about this?” and “How will they treat me because of that?” clouded my vision of a pleasant experience while abroad.


Apprehensive and now scared, I thought of backing out. “If I do not get my own room, I will not go.” “The language course will be too demanding, maybe I should choose a place that allots an easier transition.” A million reasons popped up in my head that offered an escape from this commitment and I almost let these moments of doubt win.

Yet, it is out of discomfort that we are able to grow. And these very moments of fear and doubt can then bloom into beautiful and joyous occasions when we decide to dive in. Not letting my emotions get the best of me, I turned off the blogs and stopped letting the experiences of others destroy the possibility of my ever having one. I now look to China eager and ready for what comes next. My destiny and time there lay intertwined with faith in God.

Buckled up, my playlists turned on, air vents open, I am now ready for take-off.

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