On Sunday, we were scheduled to have registration from nine am until noon, so I staked out the Economics building to try to meet other students. I must have looked so lost because a Ph.D. student took pity on me, and treated me to coffee in the café in the Economics building, and used my map to point out places of note and helped ease my anxieties. Luckily, I ran into 3 girls also on my program, all from University College Dublin in Ireland. They took pity on me and let me join them on their activities, and we got wifi set up in their apartment and made a Wal-Mart run (thanks, Emily, Shosho, and Lily!). We headed home early since we had to be on campus early Monday morning for our health examinations.
Bright and early Monday morning, we boarded buses with other international students from all over the world (every continent was represented!) to go to the hospital to get our very intense health inspection. This was the weirdest experience thus far in China, but I met all the other international students on my program and we added each other on WeChat (basically iMessage, Snapchat, Facebook all in one). This semester, the School of Economics has three students from Ireland, five from Germany, two from Spain, and me from the US.
The medical exam itself was wild – we needed a blood and urine sample, an EKG, an ultrasound, a chest x-ray, an eye test, blood pressure, basically more medical care than I have received in my entire life in about two hours. The blood test was especially unnerving since I had taken narcotic painkillers after surgery and knew they were still in my bloodstream, and I had to sign that I wasn’t a drug addict. When I picked up the results later in the week, there were no abnormal findings, much to my relief! After the exam was over, we all hung out the rest of the day and planned a dinner for the WISE undergrads (Wang Yanan Institute for the Study of Economics), our program.
All the other international students made plans to meet at a few bars near campus, so we joined them. The best part is that Mojito serves free beer every day from 8:00-9:00 pm, and on Mondays a nearby bar, Phoebe, has 1 yuan beers (about 15 cents) from 9:00-11:00 pm, which is always crawling with international students. Others continued to the club but I retired early because of the whole jetlag/sling/medication combo is not ideal for hitting the club!
Also at the dinner, I found roommates to move into an apartment with – no more dorms! So on Tuesday, we found an English speaking realtor and looked at apartments. We saw one on the 30th floor with views of the Mainland (Xiamen is an island) and the sea, it was too expensive, but the views were difficult to pass up. We ended up renting a sixth-floor walk-up, that still has great views of the sea and can only be described as palatial, for a really good price. Seriously, I will not live in an apartment this large until I’m like 50 if I stay in NYC; my room here is larger than my room at home. I am living with Sophie, a German girl in my program, and Timpa, a Dutchman studying in the graduate school.
On Friday, we got to move into our apartment! We have already made three runs to Carrefour, a French Wal-Mart but better, to get sheets and other supplies for our apartment. Luckily, it’s a quick 10-15 minute walk away in an air-conditioned mall so it’s always fun to go. We’re still getting settled in, waiting for wifi to be installed and other things to be fixed, but the apartment has been great so far and is a 25-minute walk to the university, and a 15-minute bus ride.