Hello Manila and Hello Xiamen. After 7 years of being away from my ancestral hometown….I am back and taking Xiamen by storm. Kidding! I’m sort-of back and figuring out how things will go from now on. A look into my possible future, as I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts. After having a sort-of good night’s sleep, due to my being unable to sleep well in a really big bed alone because of habit, I woke up prepared to head out with my uncle’s friend to Xiamen University.
A long time ago when I was really young, my dad told me how my angkong (paternal grandfather) was born in the Philippines but raised in China. My angkong grew up in Xiamen and eventually went to study at Xiamen University, so back in 2004 when I came to Xiamen with my dad, I was excited to go and visit the university where my grandfather went to study. Back then my Mandarin was pretty bad, and I was excited only to visit my friend who was studying there at that time (on a summer program) so I didn’t take notice of the university much. Fast forward to 7 years later, the things I do remember about Xiamen University, they are still there….almost as fresh as when I first encountered them before.
A lot of people have been asking me what I was doing in Xiamen. Some thought I was here for another semester or year and some thought I was here for work. I guess it’s hard to say exactly what I was doing in Xiamen. Besides helping out my dad and just bonding with my relatives whom I haven’t seen in a while, I had no exact plan as to what I wanted to do while I was in Xiamen. 4 days isn’t a lot of time so though I had wanted to go to Gulangyu Island to go around, it seemed impossible to actually go about doing that since it would take about half a day, or an entire day, to go around the island and sight-see. So a few days before our trip was finally finalized and everything was set in place, dad told me that my uncle had found a friend to take me around campus to check it out. Apparently, this friend prior to our arriving in Xiamen, had already asked about the language program at Xiamen University…
So we made our way through the west part of campus, walked a bit and climbed up a bunch of hills and steps till we got here…The Southern Base of the Confucius Institute. I was a bit surprised, I thought the Southern Base would be somewhere bigger like in Guangzhou but apparently it’s here in Xiamen. We made our way inside and asked about the language program, people didn’t really pay me a lot of attention since I looked like a local (even more now than back in Beijing since I’m a Southern Chinese) though some stared a bit at me when my companion mentioned that I was a foreigner.
So we made our way inside and found the 办公室 – the office, that was handling the Chinese language program. One of the personnel working there gave me an English brochure to quickly browse through and asked me if I had any inquiries regarding the program. She spoke to me in Mandarin, though she used a few English words (like application and deadline) to help me understand what she wanted to say quicker. In comparison to the language program at Tsinghua(清华), the classes seem to be more or less the same – 综合，泛读，听力，口语 though the class hours are more varied and are a lot similar to university classes as compared to Tsinghua where you can only choose between morning and afternoon classes. In Xiamen University, you can have classes in the morning and/or in the afternoon, which is I think very similar to the language program at Beijing University (北大). Also, the tuition is lower than in Tsinghua, but looking at it…it’s like the capital of China versus a small island city so there will definitely be a lower standard of living in Xiamen. Looking at the electives, I spotted a 闽南话 class…..which if I took (if I decided to take the language program) would be difficult for me since I don’t have 0% knowledge of Hokkien, but I wouldn’t have a good grasp of it either. Complicated much? Just some things I can’t help but think about when I was going through the brochure. They also offered undergraduate programs and masters programs and though those seem tempting, I’m just not yet ready to consider those options so soon after graduating from university.
After that conversation with the office, part of me wanted to apply right away for the language program but there are still a lot of things to consider so I haven’t really said yes or no to this opportunity. On the way out of that area of the campus, me and my companion decided to stop by the classrooms to check out the lessons. We got there in time for a recess break so all the foreign students were just staying outside of the building and chatting. I was a bit hesitant to go in but my companion told me to go up and check out the classrooms, so we did. Luckily, on our way out after checking the classrooms, I heard some Tagalog and got the courage to ask about the language program. Asked about the classes, living environment, among other things. The 2 I asked were helpful though they had only started this semester so they couldn’t answer my other questions regarding the language program.
After that, we headed out of the campus, but took another route.
After quickly visiting Nanputuo Temple (which my dad said I visited last time I was here) me and my companion made our way back to where we first met up. He showed me the Mcdonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut branches near the university. And also the ever reliable ICBC is quite close. He even offered to help me look at flats outside of the campus, and while looking at one of them….I bumped into another Pinoy. Amazing how it’s all such a small world. And to think we bumped into each other inside the elevator. Haha.
Everything seems like a dream. My stay in Beijing, the possibility of staying in Xiamen…it’s all a dream that the childhood me could never fathom was possible. But such is reality, and the only thing left to do is decide what I want and how to go about fulfilling what I want.