Wednesday morning was a very normal morning; a few nice presentations and a lunch break together with the Chinese students. After the break, we gathered back in our classroom. Miss Lee, the International Affairs Secretary, suddenly warned us to go home quickly. A typhoon was coming and she wanted everyone to be safe. She advised us to buy some food and water for the coming days, just in case going out of the house would be impossible. We quickly did as told and went home.
None of us had ever experienced a typhoon before, so of course we were tensed but also inquisitive about what was to come. Miss Lee messaged us that we definitely had to stay inside after 6:30PM. Once again, we did as told and the group huddled together in Dave’s room. At about 9PM the wind had gained some strength, but nevertheless the weather was still relatively calm. This had us thinking; ‘Is this it?’. Then the next message came, saying that it would be better to pack our most important stuff because typhoon Meranti would be more serious than expected, and it was really near to Xiamen now. Well, it definitely was! The wind started to shake the windows and doors, we thought they were going to break, and the power supply broke up as well. We decided to stay together with the whole group in Dave’s room, because it seemed the most calm and quiet. Everyone sat down at Dave’s and we watched a movie together to distract us.
After a while the building started to shake slowly. Miss Lee told us to move down to the lobby on the ground floor. As the elevators had stopped working we had to walk down 28 stairs. This is also quite the experience itself, but I’d prefer not to do this inside a shaking building. Downstairs in the lobby we waited, together with many Chinese people in their pyjamas, for the typhoon to pass.
At 5.30AM most of the typhoon had passed and we decided to go back to our rooms. Ascending 28 stairs again proved even worse than walking down the stairs! Once we got back into our rooms, everyone could finally sleep comfortably in their own bed, something everyone had looked forward to.
The next morning the damage Meranti had caused became clear. As soon as I looked down from my balcony, no tree was still standing up straight. A lot of damage was done to small buildings as well – windows and doors got shattered. Later that day, I noticed many streets in Xiamen were flooded and even some rooms at the 29th floor of our building were drenched. Meranti sure show us the force of nature.
In the week after the typhoon, many worked hard to restore the city, repair the damage and remove the fallen trees. For the Dutch students the whole experience was a slightly scary, but very unique experience. I’m pretty sure none of us will ever forget the moments we spent together, watching and listening to the typhoon...