Donnerstag, 11. Februar 2016

L'Amoy! L'Life!

First, for the perfect immersive experience, please put on your headphones and listen to my collage while you read:
Do I miss Xiamen?
Indeed, I do. Or as my friends, who shared the fate of being a foreigner in China, said to me:
“You will miss it brother!” And they were right! That’s why a massive shout out goes to them, my brothers of the brotherhood. A distinguished group of prodigious personalities such as heads of international five star hotels, Persian prodigies of mathematics and even an alumnus of the prestigious Manchester University! They were a secure haven of Western culturedness, with the utmost respect for Chinese traditions and a very deep understanding of  the intricacies of the intercultural communication process and especially apt in appreciating the absurdities of living in Southern China. “I miss you, brothers!” And that includes A L L the great people I met here!
Although I find it impossible to name all the moments and things that were worthwhile, I finally don’t want to further put off writing about it. So let me show you some impressions of my home these past two years and reminisce a little about the wonderful life I had in Amoy.
They all had an inspiring and creative way to use European languages.


This highrise was my home.

From the hill behind it, it looked like this:
(big one in the foreground)
In the background you can see the so called “First Twin Towers of China”. They are the highest buildings on the island and are the inevitable backdrop of many pictures. Their rise accompanied my stay here and provides a good time indicator. When I left they looked like this from the top of my house.

I think they are pretty slick and put German construction projects to shame, whether it’s planning, progress of construction or rumours of corruption and cheating. (They are believed to be constructed to close to the sea, violating related laws and regulations...), but before I scold others, let me confess probably the greatest sin of my stay in China:

I never cooked, like in at no time, not at all or not in any way, a disgrace, I know, but Chinese chefs cooked so well for me and in so many delicious ways: 
master chef

standard

vegetarian

Baozi or, in honour of my father, his transcription: Bautze.

hot soy milk

sand noodles

oil sticks

I could go on and on...my favourites, just around the corner, therefore my fridge remained empty.
my fridge, no kiddin'



Apart from its thriving tea culture, which is worth an entry of its own, Xiamen has quite a coffee culture too.  One cafe with a noteworthy unchinese quietness, very friendly staff and an interesting clientele of customers I found particularly nice and became my favourite. I spent many hours there preparing projects, correcting exams, making friends... 


With mild and warm weather almost all year round, it was a pleasure walking the streets. The arcades provided cool shade and the -for Germany inconceivable- long opening hours of the shops a constant supply of consumer goods.

The big temple “South Putuo” with its gardens and hills provided welcome respites to the Chinese consumer program, after getting beyond the tourist crowds of course...

And one spot was particularly nice:
this was in winter :)

filled with tourists,  young lovers, merchants and of course students. 
The university of Xiamen, my work place, was directly situated next to it.
the seal of Xiamen University
my institute

Before the twintowers, the signature scenery of Xiamen was the lotus lake with the mainbuilding of Xiamen University. With a lunchbreak of 2½ hours I had plenty of time enjoying the campus... 
a common sight on campus: dorms decorated with laundry
Apart from my brothers, colleagues and friends, I miss my students: diligent, reluctant, shy, mute, cute and all in all quite adorable. It wasn’t always easy, they were very diverse and challenging, yet shared with me great insights about Chinese education.
 

A pile of backpacks during an exam. I already wrote about them expressing individuality their way.

Not really quite my former neighbourhood, yet close by, was the old harbour, the oldest part of town, which you could literally see growing and changing by the minute. Guests and visitors of mine all agreed, that in my time I was there, it was in a perfect equilibrium: 

On one hand still raunchy, a little dirty and still retaining its authenticity and on the other hand “developing” with new, local, foreign and hip shops, restaurants and cafes opening daily. 


Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport
Sixteen minutes to the airport and I was in a different world: 
Wenzhou

Hongkong
Vladivostok
Shanghai
Harbin
Pingyao
Chongqing
Pengshan
 ...and many others, but really close:
Taiwan
I could see it from my house:

Chinese music, especially in live concerts, is an experience of its own and worth filling volumes, which I will do later...
Chinese opera without percussion and cell phones is unthinkable.


...and the fine arts.

RATS

Everywhere, crossing streets, living in the woodplating of restaurants, buzzing around in malls, simply a part of normal life, so no one cared and the initial shock turned into friendly greeting of our furry fellow beings.
My calligraphy course!
The teacher was an old pro, that taught children in the neighbourhood. I learned a great deal from him. Oh my, after living in an alphabetic country already for half a year again, it is so nice to see characters from time to time, helps me use different pathways in my brain *sigh*!

Speaking of calligraphy, almost forgot: omg, how could I?? 
The language! The friggin’ L A N G U A G E! So I just say this:


So you see, all in all easy life. So easy, that I even miss being a stranger, who is subjected to positive racism. As a foreigner I could enjoy the positive sides of China, but could easily externalise the negative sides from the cosy standpoint of belonging to a different nationality. I was sincerely asked my opinion about China as a German, I felt I could easily express critique, but also had always the feeling, that – exactly because I am German – a full integration/acceptance is impossible. For me that unique position between both worlds was pleasant.  Back home I see the rigidity and many other shortcomings of my nation and grudgingly have to admit, that I belong to this group too... 
And I knew the time would come, when I would go back there...


Xiamen it was really nice with you, I miss you and I hope to see you some time soon...