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Xiamen Study Tour: The Summer of a Lifetime by Luigi Capinpuyan

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in High School, Senior High | 0 comments

When we go to different places outside of our own, our hearts and souls become open to the new things that we see and feel.


Last March 2016, we were one of the privileged students who joined the annual Xiamen study tour of the Philippine Chinese Education Research Center. It was one of the tours in which we get to cherish and take a deeper look of our Chinese heritage and culture.


Two days prior to our departure, we were asked to convene at Century Park Hotel, in Manila. There, we were briefed as to which school/university we would be assigned to. I, along with around 250 other individuals, was assigned to study at Ji Mei (B) University in Fujian. Ji Mei (B) turned out to be the old campus, while the other Ji Mei – Ji Mei (A), was newer and reportedly bigger.


After a few days of lollygagging around Manila, we excitedly boarded our 3-hour flight to Xiamen. Upon arrival, we signed out the arrival and departure cards and rode the bus to Ji Mei (B). It was late when we arrived, and they gave us some late dinner while some employees brought our luggage to our rooms which were already assigned the room while we were in Manila.


            In Ji Mei (B), it was mandatory to attend the main meals; although, I bet it was the same for the other universities (absences from the meals were punishable by fining). Being late for mealtime was also punishable, not by fining, but rather by standing while everyone sits down. This somehow is a way for them to instill discipline and punctuality among the students. Breakfast starts at 7:00 a.m., lunch started at 12:30 p.m., and dinner started at a surprisingly 5:30 p.m.


Everyone was assigned their own tables, according to their group. All Konghuanians were grouped into Group 17 and 18. We ate, and a few hours later, we took our proficiency exam. Majority of the Konghuanians, regular and non-regular Chinese students alike, were put in the lower levels, while two of my classmates and I were put in Level 6, the highest level from Kong Hua.


            The Xiamen Tour isn’t all about touring and having fun in Xiamen; it’s about learning too, and so, we all took a proficiency exam to be placed in our respective levels. Level 1 was for those least proficient in Mandarin, and Level 7 was for those most proficient, although, our group leader said something about “getting higher than Level 7”, which, apparently, meant you had to go to Ji Mei (A)  everyday, which, mind you, is actually quite far.

A few days later, we rode a bus to Quan Zhou University where we had our official opening ceremony, with music and dance performances, such as a marionette-musical, and a dance performance where the performers wear masks that “magically” change. After a quick lunch, we went back to Ji Mei to continue the rest of the day.


            The weekends, oddly enough, were on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and there were no Catholic churches around, so we prayed the rosary every Sunday instead.  They gave us our books, and we studied and learned more from the Chinese teachers. The different subjects/periods were: Mandarin Development, Calligraphy, Arts and Crafts, Wu Shu, Aerobics, and Music. Somewhere in the middle, we had our intramurals, with our university going against two (2) other nearby universities: Hua Jiao and Ji Mei (A). The competitions ranged from cheer dancing, to basketball, to volleyball, and track and field.


            As far as side activities go, Ji Mei is full of them. There are basketball courts for those wishing to show off their check-marked shoes and ball-handling “skills”. There’s also a track field, which we all just called “the oval”, with a soccer field in the middle for those wishing to run or play soccer or just relax and walk. The oval also has windows for food stores (“Taiwanese pancakes”, some deep-fried squid, and milk tea were the student favorites) for those wishing to make a run-through (get it? Like, a drive-through, except you just stand in front of the window and walk away when you’re done), with menus already provided by the retailers.


            Speaking of food, the second thing I miss about Xiamen is exactly that the previously-mentioned “Taiwanese pancake” isn’t actually dessert, but rather, a savory snack. For, at most, 20 yuan, you can personally choose the ingredients, with such ingredients as cheese, bacon, ham, egg, and others (I believe squid was also an option?), and the amount (Ex. “2 slices of cheese, 4 strips bacon, 2 eggs”). Vegetables were optional as well. They also had special flavors for the junk food, like “Cucumber” and “Seaweed” for Lays.


            But I digress from the purpose of Xiamen Tour which is to, well, tour! On one of the tours, we had a 10-minute walk to a museum. On another, we rode a bullet train to a province known for its tall mountain, called “Wu Yi Shan”, which we trekked (not climbed, nor hiked, but trekked, for there were pre-laid steps to the top). On another, we rode a ferry to an island called “Gu Lang Yu”, after which we visited a nearby shopping district called “Zhong Shan Lu”, which was essentially, a street lined with clothing and jewelry stores, with a lot of toy and food vendors in between. On the last one, we were individually given a choice: an amusement park, or a cycling road? I personally chose the cycling road as they mentioned it was a good place to buy some pasalubong, and I wished to buy some for the family.


            Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience, with one of the most memorable parts of the Xiamen Tour being the last rosary we prayed, where nearly everybody was tearing up, and nobody was left un-hugged. Tears were shed that night, and we caused quite the ruckus, but for good reason: the possibility that none of us will see each other again. Going separate ways certainly isn’t rare, but that doesn’t make it any less heart-breaking. To sum it up, 10/10, would join again!

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