This post comes from API’s Experiential Program Coordinator, Octavia Sims. You can read a full profile on Octavia’s adventures so far here. This post is a “day in the life” from her time spent in Xiamen, China. Octavia currently manages our Teach abroad participants in China, and her own experience in Xiamen makes her a great resource for applicants and participants alike!
An ordinary day in Xiamen, China would look like this for me:
Around 7 a.m. I would rise to speak with my family in the states because of the time differences and the availability of free internet where I lived. I would answer emails, get ready for my day and head to the kitchen for breakfast. Every day my same favorite breakfast foods were offered: youtiao (fried bread), and baizhou (rice porridge), but usually, I would walk through the kitchen only to leave and find a bakery to have breakfast.
Xiamen, China is known for the surprising number of delicious bakeries that serve a large variety of doughy treats. I tended to grab anything that resembled a croissant with a milk tea to take along with me on my morning stroll. I lived within walking distance to the beach and lots of cool tunnels that featured pretty dope graffiti art. One day I found a tunnel that led me under half of the city to an enormous hospital! Walking and exploring on foot is by far my most favorite part of traveling. I love roaming until I am quite lost and catching a taxis or bus back to where I am familiar.
I traveled to China to study statistics at Xiamen University. My classes started at 10 a.m. which left me time to explore in the mornings. Eventually, I would find my way to class, sit through a few lectures and break for lunch on campus with my classmates. The dining halls at Xiamen University used to intimidate me with seemingly endless options. Picture a dining hall with four floors and countless vendors that lined the walls to buy food from on each level! And Xiamen University had multiple dining halls; not all of them were four stories tall but even the smallest left me feeling very awestruck. I had no vocabulary for the foods I saw and thus had to try many foods based off accessibility. I never was a picky eater and will try anything at least twice. To this day I cannot tell you the things I have eaten in China, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that to me. Food is a part of the immersion experience.
After another class, I would be free to do homework and explore more. Xiamen University is also known for its botanical gardens and I would walk around campus to view the fauna until dusk with my classmates. Sooner than later someone would get hungry enough to decide where we would go to dinner. There was a phenomenal vegan restaurant on top of a mall down the street from my place that made the best dumplings I’ve ever eaten (that’s always where I always wanted to go beside Pizza Hut…laugh all you want but Pizza Hut in China is uber fancy. They disgrace the Pizza Huts in the U.S.). After dinner, I would return to my room to study and complete my assignments.
Even back home in Charleston, South Carolina I would spend most of my free time roaming about on foot. I felt a connection to the landscape of Xiamen because it was so green and lush like the city of Charleston. I have never been one to watch much television or play sports but If there’s a cool place to see nearby I have probably been there and tried their bubble tea!