As is customary in China, Wang Jing accompanied us to the train station to catch our train to Nanjing. But once we waved goodbye, we were completely on our own for the next week. I was confident I could handle all of our normal communication needs, but if something strange happened (i.e. a medical emergency), it would have been a big challenge linguistically.
Once we were on the train, I started officially working with Mike on Chinese. I also started teaching Mike a few magic tricks. During my time in China, I found that basic card tricks really were great ice breakers in multi-lingual, cross-cultural circumstances. Often for fun at the end of a class, I would teach my students how to perform a magic trick in English, and they were always a hit.
Mike was a quick learner, and without hesitation he started using them as a way to interact with the other passengers. He would perform the trick, they would try to figure it out, and then they would teach him or us another card game that they knew. It made the seven hour train ride fly by. Magic became a fun thing we did throughout the trip with our various travel companions.
Mike was a social hit throughout the trip. Many people were impressed that such a young foreigner would be traveling independently in China, and they were even more impressed when he was social. I was really proud of how he took advantage of the opportunity to meet and talk with all types of people.