Maggie Pan

Maggie: From Russia With..Perspective

T-minus 3 hours and 46 minutes till our arrival in Beijing, China. Despite the fact that my phone reads 11:26 in EST, a peek out the window reveals the ever-glaring sunlight outside. I’ve given up trying to keep track of the hours. Sure, two years at the NC School of Science and Math has left me with an extraordinary ability to transcend natural circadian rhythms and work and sleep as I please, but trans-time zone travel might just be a little too much to process. Sometimes, I can’t decide if it seems like time is passing impossibly quickly, or if it’s simply slow to the point of a standstill. Nevertheless, my last bite of breakfast this morning seems eons away.

This is actually my fourth trip back to Beijing, China since moving here with my parents as a toddler, but to be absolutely frank: No, the 13 hour flight hasn’t miraculously become more manageable with experience. This trip’s a little different though. This time, I’m not here to visit relatives, lounge away my summer, and stuff my face with Chinese delicacies…

…Well, the last one might still stand. BUT…this trip’s special. Along with three other students from NC, I’m here to represent the US with my research project at the Beijing Youth Science and Creation Competition. Boarding this morning with my itinerary and business visa in hand, I’ll admit I felt pretty darn official.

I glance back up at the little television screen in front of me. 3 hours and 26 minutes left.

Still. So. Long.

I mentally convert that number to minutes, but the result seems equally, if not more, discouraging. On the bright side, at least we didn’t end up in Japan (Sorry, Alec and Anne Blythe!).

It’s 11:51 now. I wonder what my room mate is up to now. Probably snacking, doing homework, and enjoying her temporary single dorm. #smathlife. And I’ll bet my parents are asleep now. Or maybe still holding vigil over the computer, casually refreshing the flight details page every now and then to make sure my plane is on the right course. Who really knows? The weirdest part of trans-time zone flights has got to be the fact that the rest of the world simply carries on as usual.

…Aaaand, on a completely unrelated note, check out this awesome view! (Russia maybe?)

Somewhere Over Russia

Somewhere, over Russia…skies are blue. And indeed they are. I’ll admit I just tried singing that line in my head to the tune of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and failed epically. Having a vocal range of barely over an octave kind of puts a damper on things sometimes. Oops.

Despite the blazing sun outside, a little trail of ice crystals has formed on the outside of my window. I can barely fathom how high up above the world we are now. I love window seats on planes because I can look out during takeoff and landing and watch the gradual shift in perception. To see the vast landscapes morph into cities and farms and houses and little tiny school buses. The birds’ eye view makes me feel simultaneously tiny and gigantic. Here I am, watching over civilization like some colossal being, but then I realize…on any other given day, I would be just one of those little tiny walking figures in the streets.

It’s all about perspective.

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