Xiamen, Wanghai Lu 9, an apartment for myself at the 30th floor of a nice building close to the sea. This was the situation in which I started my China adventure. In software park two, for about a week, I was enjoying my comfortable two persons bed and nice view from the balcony. Just as I was about to get used to this comfortable life, our resident teacher, David, told us that for there was an even better option: to live in the dormitories on the campus of Xiamen University. At first it didn’t seem like it would be better at all, except for the price. Here are some of the details we were told:
* About four persons live in one dorm.
* The price is 8 yuan per day, so 244 yuan per month. Divide it by 7.5 and you’ll find that you’ll be paying about 33 euro’s per month.
* There’s a curfew, and you have to be at your dorms before 11 pm every evening.
* The curfew might not be as strict as it seems.
When we went to see the dorms, many people already knew they didn’t want to live there. And after seeing the dorm room, most of the others also opted out. Only four remained: Danny, Roy, Carolien and myself. We were also kind of hesitant, but after some consideration, we decided to at least give it a try for a month. After that we could always find something else.
The first things we learned after moving in were that we didn’t have internet (yet), there was white mold on the desks and closets, and that the toilet also functioned as shower drain. It took some time to get everything clean and up and running here at the dorms, but it was completely worth it. Besides the fact that I have never before lived somewhere this extremely cheap, there are so many more reasons that this turned out to be a good choice. For one we live right in the middle of what is said to be the most beautiful campus of China, near a canteen that sells great food for ridiculously cheap prices. Besides that, all the Chinese students also live on the campus. Which means that it suddenly becomes much easier to hang out, eat, and go to ktv with them. The Chinese students know all of the best restaurants close to the campus. So the best way to enjoy some of Xiamen’s best cuisine is to go out to dinner with them.
After obtaining a Chinese bank account and phone number, and especially through living in the dormitories, I feel I’ve completely integrated in the Chinese student life. If you’re a (future) Check-IT student, I’d definitely advise you to consider living on campus. All the pro’s certainly outweigh the few cons and the curfew proved to be pretty flexible. On a final note I would like to say these first couple of weeks in Xiamen have been a great experience for me. If you’re an upcoming Check-IT student, I bet it will be for you as well.