Maria Holland

Studies Terminated

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Friday afternoon we had a graduation ceremony – except we weren’t graduating, so it wasn’t actually a 毕业典礼.  They called it a 结业典礼, which basically just means Termination of Studies.  They called us by name and handed us Certificates of Attendance with our pictures on them.  So basically . . . we were going to class, and now we aren’t any more.

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While it sounds kind of hokey, everything was actually surprisingly legit.  Coming from a university that told me the wrong date for the beginning of the semester, who didn’t know when finals would be until three weeks before, and couldn’t even manage to print a student ID with my picture on it, I was not expecting much.  But they came up with a transcript printed on official-looking paper and a nicely bound Certificate of Attendance with my full name on it.  (This is really quite something, as my official name for all other university-related business was simply MARIA, no last name.) 

We took a picture afterwards, all of us foreigners who were about to leave all thrown in together on the steps of our classroom building.

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I said a final final goodbye to Aleid and was figuring my friends were gone already, when I got a phone call from Eunice.  She’d checked out and returned her key, then returned to grab her last bag.  While she was in the bathroom, the cleaning lady came in, looked around, and locked the door behind her.  There’s no way to open the deadbolt without a key, even from the inside, so Eunice was trapped in her room!  Talk about fire hazard . . .

But I rescued her, helped her get her bags into the taxi, and said a final final goodbye to her as well.  And then there were none :(

Even with my two constant companions gone, though, there were still friends to see and farewell dinners to eat.  I called up Hu Jing, the female mechanical engineering student I befriended, and we went to dinner together for the last time.  We hugged when we parted ways, one of those awkward embraces I can’t help but associated with goodbyes in China.  She went to her right, which conflicted with me going to my left (according to the societal norm) and we ended up cheek-to-cheek facing the same way.  Ah, that’s what 再见 feels like! 

I must say, though, that Chinese don’t have the monopoly on awkward hugs.  Eunice insisted on all her goodbye hugs being photographed, which made for some awkward looking photos:

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After a day of such hard goodbyes, what else could I do but try to drown my sorrows?  My girlfriends were gone, so I hung out with the guys – Jelle, Yerkin, Tom, Bo, etc.  We bought some rum and took it up to the top of Jelle’s building, where we had long conversations and enjoyed the view of Xiamen’s illuminated bridges.  It was stunning, honestly.

Jelle and I went to 1801 afterwards, one of those things I felt like I had to do at least once before leaving Xiamen.  It was about what I expected, a Chinese club with insanely loud music and basically free drinks for foreigners.  I had a great time dancing and am glad I went at least once. 

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They played a techno remix of Take Me Home Country Roads and as I sang at the top of my lungs, I realized how much that song has come to mean to me this year.  West Virginia isn’t my home, but it’s sure a lot closer to it than Xiamen.  So take me home, country roads, to the place where I belong – because right now I have a feeling that I should have been home yesterday. 

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