Katie Brand Blog - Greetings from China

Senior Katie Brand is currently with the U.S. Collegiate National Team on a 12-day tour of China, with stops in Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing and other cities along the way. She will check in periodically throughout the two weeks, sharing her experiences of not only high-level volleyball but the Chinese culture as well.

Hello from China everyone!

It's currently 7:23 a.m. on Thursday in Jintan, China. We arrived in this "small village" (as they call it) of half a million people yesterday afternoon and were swarmed by local news and media stations. Tonight we will play their Chinese professional team that finished second in the league this year – so I can see why it’s a big deal. I can't wait to tell you all about that! But first, let me recap all the amazing experiences up to this point.

My trip started last Saturday (June 18) when I left the airport in Kansas City at a not-so-bright-but-very-early 4:30 a.m. I arrived in Los Angeles around 7:30 a.m. before making my way to the hotel where I received my gear and met my roommate, Courtney Schwan of the University of Washington. The stay in LA was brief as we practiced Saturday evening, had a team meeting, slept, practiced Sunday morning, showered at the practice facility, and went right back to the airport.

Now, the nonstop, 14-hour flight to China may not sound great initially, but hear me out. It was incredible! I can only compare it to retirement living, where you sleep and are awaken for food every three hours. I would highly recommend. I also had the window seat – which was great for sleeping and not so good for views of the Pacific Ocean the entire time.

Our flight concluded in Shanghai around 6 p.m. on Monday evening. We were immediately escorted to what I can only call the “feast of all feasts.” We sat around a large table that had a spinning top in the middle. The waiters and waitresses brought out all the best food they had to offer for two hours, and it spun around in the middle so everyone could try it. Nothing taste what it looked like, and half the time you wonder what you’re actually eating, but all in all, it was delicious. We then went to our hotel, which was comparable to the Chinese version of the Embassy Suites. 

The next morning, we traveled to an old temple. The traveling via bus was in itself an experience. Pedestrians definitely don't have the right away, and although there are street lines, you don't necessarily have to abide by them. We all held on tight as we zoomed in and out of cars, bicyclists, and carts – not your typical driving experienced in the Midwest. 

After the freestyle driving, we spent a few hours walking around and learning about the Chinese culture. We also visited the various shops and vendors that are crammed in every nook and cranny. I bought a much needed self-propelled fan, as the humidity neared 100%. We spent the rest of the day trying foods we couldn't pronounce and bonding as new teammates. We ended the day with a boat ride at sunset. The Shanghai skyline was gorgeous – as were the unnecessary amount of pictures we took of it. 

Day number three consisted of traveling to the city of Jintan, also an experience. We made a pit stop on the way where we found Oreos, and I've never savored a processed food item more in my life. In Jintan, we once again were greeted with a spinning-table feast and quickly thereafter traveled to practice. Thankfully, Ahearn Field House had prepared me for lack of air conditioning and high humidity that made for a sweat-filled practice. 

That's all for now! But I'll be sure to check in again soon!

-Katie Brand