Recently, I’ve been so busy and so bewildered. I’m in Xiamen right now, and as this is my first Xiamen entry (for my studies here), I’d like to try to introduce where I am right now.
I arrived alone from Manila, my first international trip by myself. Xiamen is a much quieter city than Beijing which always seems to be bustling with life. Unlike my old neighbourhood, there are less restaurants about, there are less foreigners, and there are no bars in the area where I’m living (which is good as it reduces noise pollution, but a bit disappointing as there isn’t much to do in the evenings). I live pretty near my school, I can even see one of the gates of my university from my window. In fact, I live next to this small park which has a small lake behind it, and yes, I can also see the lake from here though it’s not very clear as trees are blocking the way. Another thing I see from my window is KFC, and I know that right behind that is Mcdonalds, so I guess that’s sort of good news for me (convenience-wise, not health-wise, haha).
The school is smaller than my school back in Beijing though just as beautiful. Xiamen University has wonderful architecture, there’s this really nice European-Chinese styled building with stone-like walls that I pass on my way to class. A few of the buildings here have European influences, like this dorm building I passed by a few days ago. There’s a beautiful lake that I fell in love with back in 2004. The jogging track is near my area, so at least I’ll be encouraged to go running, though I’ll wait for the weather to get a little warmer. And unlike Beijing where everything is flat, getting to my classes here will be a challenge, as it requires going up a mountain. As I mentioned, Beijing is flat, Xiamen is hilly and mountainous. So getting to the classrooms requires walking up and down stairs every day (apart from walking to and from my flat), and getting to the office for foreign students is even harder as it’s located on a much higher hill/mountain.
Since there aren’t any subways close to where I live, and this area is pretty much a university area plus a temple area, going places requires bus and taxi rides. This kind of thing makes me miss taking the subways in Beijing, but I guess things like that are environment dependent, so buses and cars are more practical here than subways. I love the tunnels that go though mountains though, which Beijing probably has but which isn’t as noticeable. And the air here is cleaner, and the sea is about 10minutes away by foot (an estimate as I’ve not really walked from here to the seaside).
I haven’t taken the time to go around, though my family here has been kind enough to take me around when they bring me out to eat. Maybe when I’m not so busy, I’ll stroll around on my own one day. But for now, I’m getting used to living alone and deciding so many things on my own(I miss my roommates), I miss talking to someone while I do chores or am on the internet (which is why I’m tempted to get a pet fish or turtle or something), and making my flat as charming as possible without splurging excessively.
It’s funny how this is my 3rd time in Xiamen (the city itself) but this is the first time I’m really seeing it without being completely overwhelmed. My first time here in 2004, I barely remember how everything looked, and I didn’t speak the language then. When I came in September of 2011, I went around a bit but I was only here for 3-4 days so I didn’t see much besides doing errands and visiting the university. And now, I’m here, overwhelmed (but not completely) and anxious and excited and apprehensive, and a whole lot of other emotions filling me up at the same time.
It just feels nice to write it all down so I can look back on this in a couple of weeks/months time.
I’ve been here less than a week, but I feel like someone completely different or someone working to become someone different. Oh Xiamen.