The documents are pretty cool: two formal invitations from the Chinese Government and China International Publishing Group (CIPG). I'm not sure what they say, but I think it's something like "We, the Government of the People's Republic of China, does hereby grant BRANDON TAYLOR permission to stay in China and work... ". With this, I'll be able to get a Z visa and my Foreign Expert Certificate.
Mike and his girlfriend, Gianelle, picked me up at the Newark airport at around midnight last night. He and I have been friends since freshman year at Penn State, when we both found ourselves in supplemental housing with four other roommates. We made the best of the living situation by becoming close friends.
Mike lives in Brooklyn, so after spending the night at his house I took the subway into the city to the Chinese consulate. I've visited Mike many times before and the ride to his house (and his neighborhood in general) are kind of intimidating for a small town guy from Northeast Pa. This time, I was unfazed. New York City has 7 million people - Beijing has 17 million. Going into downtown Manhattan was a walk in the park.
Once at the consulate, I stood in line and turned in my visa application, passport and two official documents. The woman behind the booth took a look at the letter and her eyes lit up. Official government documents. I would have my passport, with Z visa, by 2 p.m.