After pulling through a few fiascoes, we made it to Xiamen 3 days ago. Upon our arrival in Shanghai, we discovered that due to bad weather around the country, a massive number of flights, including our connecting flight to Xiamen, had been cancelled. But finally, after waiting in a long line of angry travelers, the program director and head chaperon got us a flight for the next day, and we promptly booked a hotel and a bus to get us there.

When we finally arrived in Xiamen, we were met by a few of the teachers and chaperons who were already here. Even though we were all exhausted, everyone was pretty excited to see some of Xiamen’s scenery on the bus ride to the school: blue sky, an abundance of green plants, huge buildings, and the ocean. They brought us to the building where we would be staying, which is kind of part dorm, part hotel. Lunch was provided for everyone in their room, and then, after some rest, many of the students went to the next building over to play card and board games with student volunteers from the university.

Then the next day was the Fourth of July, so, in celebration, we spent the day sightseeing. We visited South Putuo Temple, Huli Shan Fortress, the Jimei School Village, and Jiageng Park (the last two being the home area of Tan Kah Kee, the founder of Xiamen University). We also had lunch and dinner out at restaurants – For lunch, we had ordered a lot of food such as shrimp, fried noodles, chicken, soup, and taro, and we ate family style at big round tables. For dinner, we went to a huge seafood buffet at a fancy hotel. I was too tired to eat much, but they had a wide variety of fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, and desserts, and everything I did eat tasted great.

Finally, yesterday we began a more-or-less normal schedule. We had a short welcome ceremony and on-site orientation, and the students began attending their language classes and the program director’s culture class. During one of the blocks while they were in class, I went for a short walk around the campus. It was really hot and I didn’t really know where I was going, so I didn’t stay out long; I somehow found my way around the lake on campus and ended up back where I started. Everything was so beautiful, and I know I haven’t even seen everything yet. And while I was walking, I met an international student from Sudan who is studying here for his Master’s in finance. So that was pretty cool.