This Tuesday I’ll be off to Asia for the very first time, visiting three of China’s largest cities over two weeks with my father, Michael LeBlanc. My dad has been to China a dozen times over the past decade in his capacity as faculty member at NSCAD University, interviewing prospective Master of Design students. In 2008, he spent time teaching at a university in Foshan and took my mom along (you can see her China-inspired paintings here). I finished the MDes programme in 2010 and got to know a number of interesting and brilliant Chinese fellow students — one of them, Shane Song, was my roommate for a year and her perplexed delight at the idiosyncrasies of Canadian culture (thrift stores, Jesus, bacon, Halloween) made me see myself and my country in a new light.

So this year I decided to tag along and experience something close to the reverse of what my Chinese friends did when they arrived here in Nova Scotia. I expect to be overwhelmed by sheer information in cities more enormous than anything I’ve ever seen before and challenged to keep up with people whose language I know almost nothing of, at a pace that will probably be intimidating for an East Coast Canadian. I also expect smog, seas of people and being stared at for my comparatively Amazonian physique. I hope to try everything I’m offered, whether food or experience (except this), explore as widely as I can and record the weirdest/best things and most striking contrasts I encounter.

The madcap adventure begins Oct. 28 with a long-ass flight to Shanghai and the timezone-related disappearance of a Wednesday.