Adventures in China: Part II

by Katelyn Noll '07

Nimen hao! This is Katelyn Noll again, from Xiamen University, China. A lot has happened here since my last article, and I am excited to tell you about it. I've tried my hand at gambling (before you get worried, keep reading!), traveled through the Chinese countryside, made good friends, and tested my knowledge of the Chinese language, history, economics, and other important parts of the Chinese society. They keep me busy here!

October 6 was the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, which is a holiday that brings families together. For weeks before the actual holiday, people in Xiamen play a gambling game that entails throwing dice in a large, special bowl, and winning prizes depending on the roll. Traditionally, the prizes are moon cakes (small, round pastries) of various sizes. I was invited with a group of Americans to go moon cake gambling with some Chinese friends, and we all loved learning about the game—and the moon cakes weren't bad either!

Because this is such an important celebration, most major institutions were closed for the entire week, including banks, the post office, many restaurants, and the university. Most of the students at Xiada (short for Xiamen Da Xue, or Xiamen University) went home for their vacation. I, on the other hand, spent a few days in Yongtai, a village in the mountains.

Yongtai (pronounced "yong-tie") is about five hours from Xiada. We were invited to go with a group from Xin Jie Church (the one I've been attending in Xiamen) to visit a church in rural Yongtai. It was a great experience for me, as I was able to see how God is working in the small congregation and its community. We were in Yongtai for three days (Sunday through Tuesday) and spent most of the time praying, worshipping, eating, and having a good time with people from the church. They were wonderful hosts, and I had an enjoyable, restful time. It was a great break from studying.

As I've settled in, I have met and become friends with some of the Chinese students here. It's great to spend time with these people, visiting their favorite restaurants and shops, as well as going to basketball games and other sporting events. One weekend my friend and I hiked a mountain near the campus. The mountain is directly behind Nanputuo, a Buddhist temple. We hiked up the side of the mountain and came down through the temple area. On our way through, they pointed out some beautiful samples of Chinese calligraphy, written in the ancient writing styles.

The past few weeks have been especially busy for me here at Xiada because we have been taking finals. Our program director designed our semester schedule so that we could finish courses early enough to travel and take fun classes at the end of the term. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it through some of those very stressful days, but it feels great to be finished with a few courses now!

Well, enough for now. I will leave tomorrow for a 10-day study tour through China, and I look forward to updating you again in a few weeks. Thanks for keeping track of my adventures in China. Until next time, zai jian.

Read Adventures in China: Part I here.