First Day in Qufu
Today was a big change for the group and for me. We woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at four in the morning and made our way to the airport. This was my fourth time being on a plane and the flight to Beijing was my first time ever. I was very nervous at the thought of being 35,000 feet in the air hurdling at 500mph in a tin can, but I realized shortly after that it’s really not that bad and that I could get used to it. After landing in Jinan we took a two hour bus ride to the birthplace of Confucius, the city of Qufu. On the bus ride we noticed a few things different about Qufu compared to Guiyang and Chongqing. First of all, it was much drier than the more tropical climate of Guiyang and there weren’t any terraces compared to the thousands of terraces we saw on our way to Chongqing. The landscape was much flatter with only a few mountains in the distance, along with giant windmills that stood strong in the skyline.
Arriving at our new home in Qufu I immediately noticed the change in size of the buildings, the cars, the people, and the air. Compared to the skyscrapers we experienced in Chongqing and Kaili City, there wasn’t a single building over four stories. The cars were dustier compared to the pristine cars in Kaili city, and the people seemed to be darker and dustier. The land was dry and dust-ridden, with sparse greens cattered throughout the terrain. Trees were planted everywhere covered in dust and spread out equally and symmetrically in rows. The amount of trees that were planted everywhere, very much on purpose, blew me away. Wherever there was empty space on the side of the road there was a tree planted. There were no leaves on the trees so you could see miles upon miles and millions upon millions of trees. Along with the trees there were miles of bright green wheat planted in giant fields in the flatlands of the countryside.
At the university in Qufu I instantly noticed the giant soccer field right as we entered the gate to the campus. The campus was different then what I expected, it was much bigger then I had imagined and had blossoms on all of the trees. I could tell right away that I was going to like the place when the first thing on our schedule was to have free time. It was the first time since we had been in China that we had time to just stop moving and relax. In addition, we were able to explore the campus by ourselves and have some time to do whatever we wanted.
The first thing we did was hunt down the grocery store on campus and bought dozens of packages of Oreo’s and M&M’s. Then we made our way to the soccer fields and started playing around. Within a matter of minutes a group of college kids playing soccer on the other side of the field headed our way and asked us if we wanted to play a pickup game. I was excited to play soccer, especially with the college kids because I wanted to get to know them. However, none of us were prepared for their speed and agility. It was very obvious that they played soccer a lot and were in way better shape than us. Not shortly after we began we were huffing and puffing down the field. We were in no shape or form prepared to play soccer with our blue jeans, sweatshirts and Vans, but we definitely gave the kids a run for their money. Overall, they had stronger possession of the ball with their nasty foot skills, but we still won. Their shots were no match for my “master” goalie skills and our shots on goal and in the end the score was 4-2. Even though we were incredibly out of shape I still enjoyed playing with the kids and hope to come back and play them again later this week with the proper gear.