May 21, 2017 SundayToday is our last day in China. Wow, the two weeks went fast and we had a great time! We really got to see and experience a lot in a short amount of time, yet we know it only scratched the surface. I've heard several students comment on the value of this experience. When you consider the access to agricultural facilities in addition to the cultural and historical tourism opportunities, plus the nice hotels, awesome meals, and professional local tour guides in each city-- this is truly a great way to travel! I'd like to thank all of the family, friends, and businesses who helped support these 19 students by encouraging them to embrace this international opportunity, or by financially supporting their adventure. I believe this short, two week experience will be the starting line for future travel for several students. Their eyes are open and their minds are curious.
Today we visited the Pearl Market shopping area before heading to the airport. The Pearl Market is like an indoor mall with 5 levels connected through escalators and multiple small shops on each floor. In China, many of the shopping areas are specialized with whole streets filled with stores dedicated to a specific item. This was true of the market as well. First floor had electronics, silk, and souvenirs. Second floor had luggage, toys, and clothing, third floor had pearls and purses, etc. The listed price was obsolete, as negotiating a lower, mutually agreed price was the norm. As we boarded the bus for the last time, students were wrapped in new silk scarves, pearls, and electronic devices. We purchased some gifts for family and friends back home, but negotiating a good deal was so much fun that many of us splurged on ourselves a bit too. On the bus, everyone swapped notes on the best price for ear buds or brand name purses. When we got the airport, we repacked our luggage and made room for our new purchases.
Airport check-in and the security lines while long, went smoothly and were uneventful. We changed our clocks back to central time and strategized on when to sleep on the flight. The flight home from Beijing to Chicago was only 12 hours (instead of the 15 hours to Hong Kong). We took off around 4 PM China time, and landed in Chicago around 4 PM Central Standard Time. In the Chicago airport, we went through customs and made our way to our gate. We had some time to stretch our legs before our last leg of the trip back to Sioux Falls where we were greeted with family and friends. Everyone is looking forward to sleeping in their own bed tonight.
We had a GREAT group of students in this class and I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to explore China and its agricultural industry with them.
Your blogger for today, and one of the class instructors,
Dusty and goods from Pearl Market
Stretching legs on the airplane