A Quarter in Beijing

I just got settled into the international student dorm (read: hotel) at Peking University (PKU), where I’ll be spending the rest of my junior year. Since the Great Firewall of China won’t let me get on Facebook, I’ll post pictures and updates on this blog throughout the quarter.

After spending over 30 hours on planes and in airports, I’m pretty glad to finally be able to leave my baggage unattended and get some rest. On the plus side, today I discovered an airline that stands head-and-shoulders above any other I’ve flown, bar none: Korean Air.

What makes Korean Airlines the best airline in the world?

1. Comfortable seats – So. Much. Legroom. It made me wish I were taller, just so I could take better advantage of the ample airspace between me and the screaming baby ahead of me.

2. Thoughtful service – The (seemingly) all-female flight crew swarmed us, offering complimentary water bottles, headphones, hot towels, steamed bread, pineapple juice, and just about anything else you could ever want or need on a 13-hour trans-Pacific flight. They adjusted the blinds in sync to get everyone accustomed to the time zone at our destination, Seoul-Incheon International Airport. They even put disposable toothbrushes and toothpaste in the lavatories. Did I mention the flight crew?

3. Free in-flight entertainment – “Hollywood Hits,” games, music, and kids options––all free. I witnessed The Invention of Lying and Twilight: New Moon… OK, bad example. I also read Camus’s The Stranger, which was more exciting than both movies combined.

After years of flying domestic carriers and running around domestic airports, I realized today that Korea has us beat, at least when it comes to traveling in style. Seoul International Airport was all class, with lounges and comfortable waiting areas, open even to the commoners without 7 million frequent flyer miles to their name. Even the walkways for getting on and off planes were all-glass and infinitely more inviting than their gloomy American counterparts.

I met up with 6 other Stanford students at Gate 21 in Seoul, and a quick 2-hour flight later, we were taxiing into the terminal in Beijing. Peking University sent a bus with 4 students to pick us up and act as impromptu tour guides. We passed the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, artifacts of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, on our way to the PKU campus, and finally arrived at the dorm around 10PM.

Orientation starts tomorrow at 10AM. I can’t wait.

-Joel

Our common room - The room consists of 2 singles, a bathroom, and this shared space.

My room at PKU

Inscription on the free backpack waiting in our rooms. (Translation: Stanford Program at Peking University)

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2 thoughts on “A Quarter in Beijing

  1. Kevin says:

    Looking forward to reading your adventure abroad! 🙂

  2. Neal Jean says:

    How was your first day of school? Hahah hopefully your Korean Air flight is not the highlight of your trip

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