Thanks to a personal invitation from the Chinese president, a group of Tacoma teens will be China-bound early Friday morning.

KING 5 caught up with the students from Lincoln High School on Thursday evening, as they said goodbye to their families and loaded their luggage onto buses headed for Sea-Tac Airport.

Related: Tacoma teens to visit Chinese President Xi Jinping

For some of the students making the trip, it will be their first time on an airplane.

"I've been on a couple camping trips outside of Tacoma and Lakewood, but otherwise not much traveling," said sixteen-year-old Alicia Dorman. "This is my first time flying. I was told your ears do this poppy thing and i was like whoa! That's kinda weird!"

Last September Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tacoma's Lincoln High School and surprised them with an invitation to visit him in China.

The Chinese government is paying for the entire trip.

Lincoln High School used a lottery to pick the 100 students, who had to have at least a 2.5 GPA and recommendations from three teachers.

"It's going to be a new experience for me, one that's totally out of my comfort zone, and I'm all about that," said Dorman.

Her mom said it's tough to say goodbye to her daughter, but she also knows Alicia is ready.

"She needs this," said Tammy Davis. "This is a big opportunity for her to learn a new culture. But we're really going to miss her!"

Davis held back tears as they hugged and said goodbye, before Alicia and her classmates grabbed their luggage and headed out for the airport.

The students will spend eleven days in China.

KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen is traveling with the group from Lincoln High School. Look for his reports from China, starting next week.