I have only been out of the country once, and that trip was the first and last time I had gone on an airplane…until now. My mother and I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to go to the airport for my 6:00 a.m. flight. This flight was very comfortable. The plane wasn’t scary big and my legs had plenty of space, not to mention the free wifi on board (THANKS JETBLUE!). From there, I was going to JFK. Thankfully my mother and I had gone over what to do the day before. I was prepared for having to take the train to a different terminal. I was able to get my tickets and request my seats, which was awesome. And then I waited. My layover was about five hours so there was a lot of sitting around. But it gave me a chance to call people for the last time, so I was very thankful for the extra waiting around time.
I boarded my flight to Beijing with no problems. But I became slightly uncomfortable when the flight attendants started walking around asking what we wanted to drink. I didn’t know if I should speak English or try to speak Mandarin. If I spoke mandarin would she continue to speak it back to me and think I understood her? Most of the time native speakers speak very quickly and I’m just not experienced enough to understand all of it. So I spoke in English. I continued to feel uncomfortable surrounded by people who could understand each other with no problem while I had trouble figuring out what the food was.
Once I reflected on my feelings, I realized how common this must be in the classroom. Any students that come from different cultures and are unfamiliar with the language and customs of the United States are at a severe disadvantage. Going to school always insecure and uncomfortable is not a proper learning environment. I’m sure that I will continue to learn this lesson during these next six weeks. This will help me as an educator, so I will stay cognizant of my students’ comfort.