Janice, as my side of the family knows, is one of my best college friends--we were neighbors freshman year, took a bunch of classes together, were suitemates junior year, pulled all nighters writing our theses senior year, and then she went off to Honduras to volunteer in the Peace Corps. I actually signed up for my first global health trip because it was near her village in Honduras and so I was able to visit her during her PC volunteer...so you might even say she provided the initial impetus that ended up with me in China doing global health research!
She arrived yesterday, and there have already been some key differences compared to past visitors:
1) I had to pay a lot more attention than normal at the airport pick-up line as Janice is Korean/Japanese-American and there were a lot of 20-something Chinese women on the flights before hers. Luckily, she dressed super-American (hoody with non-bedazzeled jeans) so she still managed to stand out from the crowd.
2) The combination of her growing up as a third-generation American, having her Korean-born grandmother visit her, and living for 2 years in a very poor town in rural Honduras means that she's much more used to the things we found crazy when we first got here. For example, we were like, "You can buy a whole fish! Live! And then serve it in a soup! Whole!" and she goes, "Great! My grandmother had the best recipe for whole fish soup, we have to try some!"
3) She arrived for a 16 day vacation with a backpack, a small carry-on (filled with bagels, cream cheese and lox as a surprise gift!), and a rolling-suitcase carry-on of clothes. That's it.
4) People talk to her in Chinese because they think she is our translator. Amazing.
We had a blast walking around the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square last night and today are going to a park where parents try to set up their adult-children on dates. Tomorrow, it's the Great Wall!