Today, Feb. 24, will mark the one-year anniversary of my wife and I returning to the United States from the People’s Republic of China. It was a great experience to be over in China and to get to participate in the Chinese New Year’s festivities and the like. At the same time, it felt really good to be home.

When we flew back into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, I was very relieved. Not necessarily to be home; I wanted off that stupid plane. We had been on the plane for 13 hours, and it felt really good to get off. Then after immigration and customs — a surprisingly short process, if you can remember to take your hoodie off — and found the gate for our departing flight.

Here’s what I remember about the return trip:

• It is better not to sleep on the plane. On the way to China, I had tried to sleep on the plane and suffered from jet lag. So, for 13 hours, I sat in my seat and watched movies and listened to music. Occasionally, I would stand beside of the bathrooms, but that was it. Other than going to bed at like 7 p.m. in Charlotte, I suffered no ill effects that time.

• One of the movies that Air China showed was one of the “Twilight” movies. Here’s a quick review: It’s like a soap opera with vampires, not really that interesting because it just feels forced. It’s too dramatic.

• Every now and then, my dad still asks me about our flight and the path that it took. I can only remember seeing the names of an island on the top of Canada and following our path into the US over Montreal.

• Oddly, even though, we left in the afternoon, but the majority of our flight was in the daytime. Once we were over Canada, it was daylight from there on to New York.

• Stupid thing to do: Take a child on a 13-hour flight with a time difference that will have you land before you took off. Sadly, several people in our section attempted to do this. It worked out great until the parents had to wake the child up in the middle of the night and tell them that it was daytime.

• Also, if you are thinking about travel, go ahead and pay for first class or business class. I think that there was approximately, three inches of room in my area of the plane. The first-class seats are supposed to be bigger and better in this respect.

• Finally, don’t let the distance in traveling scare you away. It really isn’t that hard. Yes, it will be uncomfortable for a while, but the wonder of experiencing something like China is something that you will never forget, and it is a lot more valuable than 13 hours of discomfort.

Matt Christian is a Princeton Times reporter. Contact him at

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