Editor’s Note: This post was written by Claire Kane, but she was unable to post it. Why? She believes our site is blocked in China. I’ll inquire in a few days if this indeed is the case or if perhaps we’re just blocked by one service provider or in one internet cafe.

Landed in Xiamen! I’ll be spending a semester here studying Mandarin at Xiamen University. With a population of three million – over a million of whom are migrant workers and not considered permanent residents – the place is not considered big by China’s standards.

The speed of construction here is like nothing I have ever seen. The first day I arrived there was a construction zone outside the gate of the university campus. Within a few days the dust had settled and a deluxe McDonald’s was over half-way completed. A few mornings later, the McD’s ice cream shop was open for business. Last night I strolled by again and noticed that a new concert venue is a few days into construction – in other words, almost done.

Today in Chinese class we learned a phrase: Xiamen university is not Xiamen, and Xiamen is not China. Is this the China that 1.3 billion people know? Is this the air that most Chinese breathe? No. But for some  – and for me, at least for now – it is.

PS. If you want to find Xiamen on a map, locate Taiwan and then scan the mainland coast directly parallel to it.