August 2017. I hadn’t even thought of visiting Xiamen University, not until a friend of mine suggested it. “It’s one of the most beautiful campuses in China!” she claimed, so off I went, full of anticipation. When I arrived at the entrance gates I was met by a long line of people snaking down Yanwu Road and immediately found myself wondering if it was really worth it. But then fate intervened in the form of a bookish medical student who offered to take me directly inside if I agreed to speak on camera about my experiences in Xiamen. So we skipped the queue, I gave the city some gushing praise and then I was released, free to roam with what felt like half of China.
August 2017. The University was established in 1921 and was the first such institution to be setup by an overseas Chinaman, the well-known philanthropist Tan Kah Kee. A statue of the old guy dominates the university’s long, leafy mall.
August 2017. The campus grounds are dominated by the almighty Lotus Lake; accessed by a waterside loop path that runs beneath a gaggle of weeping willow trees. The towering building in the background is part of the Jiageng Complex, a series of classrooms and lecture halls built by teachers and students of the architecture and civil engineering departments.
August 2017. There are all kinds of interesting stops around the lake. You can see the halls of residence, the library (said to hold over three and a half million books) and pockets of modeled garden nooks, with benches, sculptures, plaques and the odd stone bridge. Feeling peckish? Fear not, just approach one of the strategically placed entrepreneurs and for a mere 10RMB you can munch from a box of chopped mangos, pears and watermelons.
August 2017. “Pursue excellence, strive for perfection!” goes Xiamen University’s plucky motto. And indeed I could see this steely resolve in the eyes of the students as they marched from building to building with their schoolbags and armfuls of books. I could also see it in the hopeful eyes of a future scholar as he walked around with his family, head buried deep in the University prospectus. And perhaps too, in its own way, the motto also applied to these two girls. No matter where you are and what you’re doing, one should always look their best.
For more snapshots of this amazing city, check out travel reports from around Xiamen.
Or maybe search further afield with my zillion articles from across China.
I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.
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