Visiting Krakow

Saint Mary's Cathedral, Main Square, Old Town, Krakow, Poland, Travel

After my adventure in Slovenia it was time to visit my friend in Krakow.

I arrived Tuesday afternoon and took my time to pre-explore the city, before meeting up with my friend. Then we went into the Old City where she told me some of the history of Krakow and recommended some places for me to go on days when she was studying. Nearing the end of the day we went to where I would stay and we went by Zakrzówek, a former quarry that filled with water to form a lake.

Grunwald, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Memorial to the battle of Grunwald.

Barbican, Old City, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Barbican guarding the entrance to the Old City.

Lake Zakrzówek, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Lake Zakrzówek.

 

The next day we visited Wawel Castle, the home of the former monarchs of Poland. It had been looted during the second World War, but it has been restored quite a lot and the royal chambers exhibit was very interesting. After that my friend had to study, so I went to Podziemia Rynku on my own. It’s under the Cloth Hall in the Main Square and was an archeological dig, turned into a museum. It has many interesting things and you can learn a lot about Krakow’s history, especially from the films near the end.

Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Wawel Castle.

Courtyard, Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Wawel Castle courtyard.

Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, Travel

View from Wawel Castle.

Cloth Hall, Main Square, Old City, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Cloth Hall on the Main Square of Krakow.

 

On Thursday I went on the Free Walking Tour twice. The first tour was in the Old City where we walked around many well-known and some less known places while the tour guide told about the history and legends of those places. The second tour was about the Jewish history in Krakow, which also included their history during the second World War, but was not limited to just that. I wish I had more time in Krakow, so I could go on all of their tours. I definitely will go on the rest of their tours.

Saint Mary's Cathedral, Main Square, Old Town, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Saint Mary’s Cathedral by night.

Statue, Main Square, Old Town, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Statue of a student near Main Square

Dragon, Bones, Wawel Cathedral, Krakow, Poland, Travel

“Dragon” bones hanging at the entrance to Wawel Cathedral

Old Synagogue, Krakow, Poland, Travel

Old Synagogue, the oldest one in Krakow.

 

Friday was my last full day in Krakow. I went with my friend to Schindler’s factory. It’s a museum about what happened during WW2. It was emotionally very draining. The following morning I took the bus back to the Netherlands.

 

Visiting Slovenia

mountain valley, Kriški Podi, Slovenia

I had a short vacation from school, so I decided to visit some friends I met in Xiamen. My first stop was Kranj in Slovenia.

I left from Amsterdam on Thursday by train, needing to switch trains in Düsseldorf and then again in Münich. When I arrived early on Friday morning in Ljubljana I took the time waiting on my friend to wander around the train station for a bit and have breakfast. It was after I got back to the train station and before my friend picked me up that I noticed that Ljubljana offers free wifi to all. They said it was only for an hour, but my friend assured me later that you can just get a new login code everytime the old one expires.

Trainstation, Ljubljna, Slovenia

Ljubljana trainstation

Slovenia - Statue of France Preseren with his muse in Ljubljana

Statue of Slovenian poet France Preseren with his muse

 

 

After she picked me up we first went to her home in Kranj, where I dropped off my backpack and freshened up a bit. Then we went sightseeing in Bled, a town that was close by. We first went up the hill to the castle which gave a great view on the lake, after which we went down to walk around the lake. When we were done seeing Bled we went to the city centre of Kranj to walk around there, before going back to her home to retire for the night.

Lake, Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled seen from the castle.

Castle, Lake, Church, Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, with the castle in the background.

Kranj, Slovenia

City centre of Kranj.

Slovenia - Statue of France Preseren in Kranj

Statue of Slovenian poet France Preseren in Kranj

 

On Saturday she was busy with homework, so she dropped me off at the bus station of Ljubljana from where I took the bus to Koper, a town at the coast of Slovenia. I rented a bike and went from there to the salt flats of Sečovlje. I saw many things, but didn’t have enough time to see all I had planned, partly due to the fact that I got lost somewhere in Izola. I got to the salt flats, but I didn’t see Piran and Portorož on the way there, although my friend had recommended it to me before dropping me off.

Koper, Slovenia

Begging my bike ride from the beach in Koper

Bike ride, Lucan tunnel, Slovenia

Biking through Lucan Tunnel

 

Sunday morning we left early to go mountain hiking. We met up with some of her friends and after a short drive we got to the mountain range where we set off towards Kriški Podi. A mountain with a cabin at it’s top.  Nearing our goal I realised that as someone from the Netherlands, a practically completely flat land, I had nowhere near enough stamina to go up a 2000+ metre high mountain and back. Luckily everyone was very patient with me and if any of you are reading this, thank you so much for putting up with my whining as we were going down. On the plus side, I did manage to take some pretty amazing pictures of a pretty amazing environment.

Mountain Hike, Slovenia

We just got above the tree line in this picture.

mountain valley, Kriški Podi, Slovenia

Mountain valley at Kriški Podi

Mountains, Kriški Podi, Slovenia

Kriški Podi, the destination of the hike.

 

Monday was my last day in Slovenia and I spent most of its morning recuperating in bed from the previous day’s mountain adventure. Luckily my muscles weren’t too sore, thanks to my friend making me do stretches after we got down from the mountain, so I could happily go to Postojna caves. They’re the biggest caves in Slovenia and the most popular ones. We started by going on a 2 kilometre train ride to get deep into the cave, where our tour started. It’s a beautiful cave, but a bit too dark for good pictures.

Cave curtain, Postojna, Slovenia

Cave curtains in Postojna cave.

Stalagmite, Postojna, Cave, Slovenia

One of the stalagmites that you can find on the postcards for Postojna caves

 

After the cave I needed to take the bus back to Ljubljana, so I waited. And waited. And waited. But the bus didn’t come. I went to the train station, but there was something wrong with the trains and they weren’t riding at all. I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the bus to Kraków, but luckily I had met some Singaporean tourists that had also taken the tour in the cave and they agreed to share a taxi with me. If it weren’t for them I would have missed the bus, but now I even had time to see a bit of Ljubljana by night and have dinner before I left

Stirfried Eggplant

Eggplant, Garlic, Cumin, Chilli Flakes, Lee Kum Kee's Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce

This is an easy and quick recipe that I make all the time. Below I give some serving tips of how I eat it usually, feel free to leave your own tips in the comments.

Before you start, make sure you read all the steps thoroughly, so you won’t forget anything, but feel free to experiment. This recipe is how I make it and you can make it your own way with spices and oils that you like. Please let me know if you do and I’ll try your way as well.

Ingredients:

1 large Eggplant

1/4 teaspoon Chilli flakes

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 clove Garlic

4 tablespoons Vegetable oil

4 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee’s Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce

  • If you can’t find Lee Kum Kee’s Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce you can other sauces as well, experiment with it until you find something that fits your taste.
Eggplant, Garlic, Cumin, Chilli Flakes, Lee Kum Kee's Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce

Ingredients of the stir-fried eggplant.

Equipment:

1 Stir-fry pan with lid

1 Stirring spoon

1 Garlic press

1 Cutting board

1 Vegetable knife

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10~15 minutes

Total time: 15~20 minutes

Preparations:

  1. Dice the Eggplant into pieces of roughly 1 centimetre, it’s okay if they’re not exactly 1 centimetre.
  • I leave the skin on the Eggplant, but if you don’t like that you can remove the skin before cutting it into pieces.
  1. Cut of the of the clove of Garlic that was attached to the entire bulb and remove the skin.
  • If the clove of Garlic is too big for your Garlic press you can cut it in smaller pieces that fit.
  • If you don’t have a Garlic press cut the Garlic into as small as possible pieces instead.

Cooking:

  1. Put the oil in the pan.
  2. Heat the pan on the highest setting of your stove.
  3. Put the Chilli flakes and Cumin into the pan.
  4. Put the Garlic in the Garlic press and press it into the pan.
  • If you don’t have a Garlic press, use the small pieces that you’ve cut the Garlic into instead.
  1. Stir the Chilli, Cumin and Garlic for 1 minute.
  2. Put the diced Eggplant into the pan.
  3. Stir the Eggplant until most pieces are covered with the Chilli, Cumin and Garlic.
  4. Put the Sauce into the pan.
  5. Stir the Eggplant until most of the pieces are covered with the sauce.
  6. Put the lid on the pan and let it simmer for 5~10 minutes.
  • You can taste the Eggplant to see if it’s done. The skin should be a bit chewy, while the flesh of the Eggplant should be soft.
Stir-fry, Eggplant

Stir-frying the eggplant

Serving Tips:

Put it on some pita bread with hummus. This is the easiest and, in my opinion, most delicious way to eat it.

Stir-fry, Eggplant, Pita Bread, Hummus

Stir-fried eggplant, served on pita bread with hummus

 

You can also put it on a wrap with some brown rice. Make sure you cook the brown rice first though.

Stir-fry, Eggplant, Wrap, Brown Rice

Stir-fried eggplant, served on a wrap with brown rice.

Visiting Beijing

Great Wall, China

Near the end of my stay in China I went to Beijing. I was very lucky for my stay there too. My friend that lives there told me that the summer weather in beijing has three phases, sunny, smoggy and rainy, and I was lucky enough to stay there during one of the sunny phases. The only downside to this was that it was incredibly hot. So hot that even though I was there for only a week, I didn’t go out every day. And when I did go out I tried to travel as much as possible by subway.

Art, Subway, Beijing, China

An art piece in the Beijing Subway

Art, Subway, Beijing, China

Another wall art piece in the Beijing subway.

 

The first thing I visited was the Forbidden Palace. I went there in the weekend, so it was very crowded. It took almost an hour in line to get in, but it was well worth it. I spent most of that day there and because most major points had a description about what they were for, such as the hall where the emperor received guests, I learned a lot. There were also several exhibits, such as about the accession of an emperor. There they showed parts of a painting about a celebration surrounding the accession and the gifts they would give him, and artefacts that were gifts to emperors. Behind the Forbidden City stands Jingshan park, where I went up the hill for a picture and a short rest, before going out to eat and return to my hotel.

Tiananmen square, Beijing, China

The line started on the other side of the street.

View, Forbidden City, Beijing, China

View on the back of the Forbidden City.

 

The next day I visited the Summer Palace. It was very nice, despite the hot weather. Up the hill and walking around Beihai was a cool breeze, so I didn’t feel to hot. At the top of the hill I got my Chinese name painted in traditional characters. The painter was really amazing, he put a couple of different colours on his brush and with a few swirls and twirls he was done. At Beihai I had my first taste of bingtanghulu, frozen Hawthorn coated in sugar. It’s very tasty and you should definitely try it out if you can. (No picture, sorry)

Calligraphy, Painting, Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Me with a painted 金馬

Friso Denijs, Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Me at the Summer Palace.

Lake, Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Seeing the summer palace from across Beihai.

 

In China there is a saying, 不到长城非好汉, which means that you can’t be a real man if you haven’t been to the Great Wall, so of course I had to visit the Great Wall while I had the chance. On the way there I had a bit of an interesting moment though. There is a direct bus, but on the way there I was stopped by someone trying to convince me that that bus wasn’t going today and tried to get me on a slower and more expensive bus. Luckily I was with someone that didn’t fall for it because, as it turned out, the direct bus was still going. It was really crowded there, so it took all day to walk to one end and back.

Great Wall, China

The Great Wall of China.

 

Visiting Harbin

St. Sophia Cathedral, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

 

Harbin is in the north of China, close to Russia. So even though it was the middle of summer, it was still comfortable outside. Especially compared to the southern cities, like Xiamen.

Harbin’s architecture has been heavily influenced by Russians and this becomes most apparent in the Saint Sophia Cathedral. A very beautiful church that now serves as a photography museum. It has a lot of pictures of old Harbin and if you visit Harbin it is definitely a place I recommend you to visit.

St. Sophia Cathedral, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

The St. Sophia Cathedral.

 

Harbin has a famous shopping street called Zhongyangdajie. There are many shops and the side streets have a lot of street food. At the end of that street if you go a bit to the right you will find a ferry that will take you Taiyangdao (or Sun Island in English). It’s a beautiful island that you can spend all day at, which I did. There are many places to see and my favourite was the waterfall. I’m a big sucker for waterfalls.

Zhongyang Dajie, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

Going into Zhongyang Dajie

Ferry, Taiyangdao, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

Ferry to Taiyangdao.

Waterfall, Taiyangdao, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

Waterfall on Taiyangdao

 

I’ve visited several other places like the Heilongjiang Provincial Museum, although it wasn’t as impressive as other provincial museums I’ve been to, and I ended my stay in Harbin with a visit to the Dragon TV Tower. It has an amazing view and if it’s a clear day you can see all the way to the edge of Harbin.

Dragon TV Tower, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

The Dragon TV Tower at night.

View, Dragon TV Tower, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

View from Dragon TV Tower.

View, Dragon TV Tower, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

View from another side of Dragon TV Tower

 

I had a good time and I want to go back to Harbin during the winter, to visit during the Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival to see the sculptures and eat frozen fruit snacks.

Visiting Dalian

View, Baiyunshan, Dalian, Liaoning, China

 

Dalian is known for it’s cherries and I was lucky enough to stay at friend’s place whose parents are cherry farmers, while it was cherry season. Well, the first cherry season. They have one greenhouse and one open farm, so they can harvest two times a year. The cherries are really good in Dalian and if you’re there during spring or summer you should definitely get some.

Cherry farm, greenhouse, Dalian, Liaoning, China

My friend’s family cherry farm.

 

During my stay there I’ve seen many interesting things, such as an old Japanese courthouse, built during the time they had invaded and took control over Dalian, as well as a tower atop baiyushan they had built to keep a look out.

Lushun Japan Guandong Courthouse, Dalian, Liaoning, China.

Lushun Japan Guandong Courthouse

Tower, Baiyunshan, Dalian, Liaoning, China

Japanese tower atop Baiyunshan in the distance.

Qing Dynasty cannon, Baiyunshan, Dalian, Liaoning, China

A cannon we saw on our way to the top of Baiyunshan. My friend told me it’s most likely Qing Dynasty.

View, Baiyunshan, Dalian, Liaoning, China

View from Baiyunshan

 

My favourite place though was Yinggeshi Botanical Garden,  we went there on the last day of my stay in Dalian. We spent half the day there and I took many more pictures than you’ll see below. It was with great difficulty that I picked out the best ones, instead of just posting them all here.

Purple hills, Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Dalian, Liaoning, China

Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Flowers turning the hills purple.

Blossoming trees, Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Dalian, Liaoning, China

Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Blossoming trees.

Peony, Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Dalian, Liaoning, China.

Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Peony

Hanging flowers, Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Dalian, Liaoning, China.

Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Hanging flowers.

Pond, Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Dalian, Liaoning, China

Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Pond surrounded by flowers

Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, Dalian, Liaoning, China

Yinggeshi Botanical Garden, pink and yellow flowers.

 

 

 

Visiting Fujian

Mao Zedong's statue at Wuyi square in Fuzhou, Fujian, China

 

While you’re studying it’s important to take some time for yourself, and not just during the vacations you may or may not have. So while I was studying in Xiamen I took some time to visit the nearby cities Fuzhou and Quanzhou, which respectively are 2 and 1 hours away from Xiamen by train.

I organised my trip to Fuzhou by myself. I found a cheap hotel online, but when I arrived there were many people advertising their hotels around the trainstation that turned out to be much cheaper. So if you go there outside of a holiday you might want to take that into consideration. But, if you do travel during a holiday I strongly advise to book a hotel well in advance.

I stayed for 3 days, although I arrived late on the first day and left halfway through the third day, so I actually only had one and a half day there to do things.

I first went to Gushan, a mountain that was about half an hour away from the city centre. Half way up the mountain I met a group of middle schoolers that wanted to practice their English. Near the top was a gate to go to the actual top that I needed to pay for, although the mountain was free before that. It turned out to be worth it though. There was rock calligraphy and the view was great. I also met some people that had taken the day off from work to hang out. I went down the mountain with them and joint them for lunch, after which one of them brought me to nanhoujie, which is part of the 3 lanes 7 alleys.

Entrance to Gushan in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Entrance to Gushan

Calligraphy rock on Gushan in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Calligraphy rock on Gushan

Friso Denijs on Gushan in Fuzhou, Fujian China

Me high up on Gushan with a foggy Fuzhou behind me.

Walking through just that street took the rest of my day but it was really nice. There were many interesting shops, my favourite one being one that sold Fujian style wood sculptures.

Entrance to Nanhoujie in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Entrance to Nanhoujie.

Fujian style woodcarving in a shop in Nanhoujie in Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Fujian style woodcarving in a shop in Nanhoujie.

The next day I first went to Wuyi square, I wanted to see the rising of the flag, which happens at sunrise, but I arrived to late. Luckily I was direct by a local to a temple left of Mao’s statue and up the hill. It was a lovely temple, but sadly I forgot to take pictures there.

 

Mao Zedong's statue at Wuyi square in Fuzhou, Fujian, China

Mao’s statue on Wuyi square.

After that I went to the Fujian provincial museum. It had many interesting exhibits, my favourite one being about Fujian opera. I was also very surprised when I saw a diaroma of Dutch people. It was of them surrendering to Zheng Chenggong after he reclaimed Taiwan. After the museum I left Fuzhou and went back to Xiamen.

 

Diorama of the Dutch surrendering to Zheng Chenggong in Fujian provincial museum in Fuzhou, Fujian, China

Diorama of the Dutch surrendering to Zheng Chenggong in Fujian provincial museum.

 

Later in the semester I went to Quanzhou for a day with a group of classmates. We first went to Kaiyuan temple. It’s a temple with large grounds. We spent most of our day there, wandering about.

Pagoda at Kaiyuan temple in Quanzhou, Fujian, China.

One of the two pagodas at Kaiyuan temple.

Mural at Kaiyuan temple in Quanzhou, Fujian, China.

Mural at Kaiyuan temple

 

Friso Denijs standing underneath trees in Kaiyuan temple in Quanzhou, Fujian, China.

Me underneath two crossing trees at Kaiyuan temple

Afterwards we went for a quick visit to Quanzhou museum, but it was nearly closing time and most of us were hungry, so we went out to eat and have drinks. We got back late and tired to our dorms, but we all had a good time.

Quanzhou museum in Quanzhou, Fujian, China

Quanzhou museum

 

Visiting Guangzhou and Foshan

Grave, Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

 

Although my main purpose in coming to China was to study Chinese, it wasn’t the only thing I did there. I took the opportunity to travel around China as well. Both one of the first and last places I went to was Guangzhou.

The first time I went there was with a group of friends from Xiamen University. We took the over night train from Xiamen directly to Guangzhou, but later I found out that it’s faster if you first take a train to Shenzhen and from there switch to another train going to Guangzhou.

We stayed at the Lazy Gaga Hostel (http://www.gagahostel.com). It’s a comfortable hostel with a large common room and comfortable sleeping rooms. I’ve stayed there both times I went to Guangzhou. Some rooms don’t have windows though, so if you want a window, make sure you ask for one when you book your room.

Lazy Gaga Hotel, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Entrance to the Lazy Gaga Hotel

The first day we visited several temples nearby the hostel and the Chen Clan Academy, which was my favourite one by far. That academy houses some very nice artwork, like a giant inkstone, and step-by-step examples how certain artwork is created.

Roof Ornaments, Chen Clan Academy, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Roof Ornaments at Chen Clan Academy

Inkstone, Chen Clan Academy, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Detail of Inkstone at Chen Clan Academy

Woodcarving, Chen Clan Academy, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Example of woodcarving at Chen Clan Academy

We also visited some other places, like the protestant churches and the opera house. The next day I split up with my friends to hang out with another friend that came from Foshan. We went to the mausoleum of the Nanyue king. A museum built on the gravesite of a Han-dynasty king. It has exhibitions about the area, about what was found in the grave and of course, the grave itself.

Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Entrance to the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King

Grave, Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Entrance to the grave in the Mausoleum

The second time I went to Guangzhou was mostly to just visit my friend in Foshan, which are just a short subway ride away from each other. I spent a day there to visit Zumiao temple and Liangyuan park with her. Zumiao temple had several small museums and my favourite one was the one dedicated to Ip Man. The day I went there they also had a lion dance, which was very interesting to see.

Zimiao Temple, Foshan, Guangdong, China

Entrance to Zimiao Temple

Lion Statues, Zimiao, Foshan, Guangdong, China

Lion Statues at Zimiao

Ip Man, Zimiao, Foshan, Guangdong, China

Ip Man Museum at Zimiao

Lion Dance, Zimiao, Foshan, Guangdong, China

Lion Dance at Zimiao temple

At Liangyuan park we walked around the lake, looked at some of the old buildings and looked at the calligraphy exhibit.

Bridge, Liangyuan, Foshan, Guangdong, China

Bridge at Liangyuan

Gazeebo, Liangyuan, Foshan, Guangdong, China

Gazeebo in the Shape of a boat at Liangyuan park

Calligraphy, Liangyuan, Foshan, Guangdong, China

Calligraphy at Liangyuan

After visiting Foshan I still had another day in Guangzhou. I met some people in the hostel and we went on a boat tour on the Pearl River. We saw many sites along the river, the most famous one being Canton Tower.

Pearl River boat tour in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

One of the boats to take a tour on the Pearl River

Canton Tower in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, as seen from the Pearl River.

Canton Tower, seen from the Pearl River

 

Studying in Xiamen

Xiamen Univesity, Xiang'an Campus, canteen

As I said in my previous post, I studied Chinese on the Xiang’an Campus of Xiamen University. It’s a campus that is still partially under construction, but it was already quite big. It took me about 15 minutes walking from my dorm to my classrooms.

Xiamen University, Xiang'an Campus, Building, Classes

The building where I took my Chinese classes.

 

There were already many buildings, the biggest one being the library, but there are still many more to be build.

Xiamen University, Xiang'an Campus, Library

Library of Xiamen University, Xiang’an Campus.

 

The campus is being constructed in several phases. The first one was already complete and the second one nearly. I’m not sure how many phases there will be after this, but from what I’ve seen on the map, there will be at least one or two phases more.

Xiamen Univesity, Xiang'an Campus, canteen

The big canteen. Referred to as 一期 (yī qí, first phase) by the Chinese students.

Xiamen Univesity, Xiang'an Campus, canteen

The small canteen. Referred to as 二期 (èr qí, second phase) by the Chinese students.

 

They were also still busy planting trees, but they still looked weak and young, except for one. But, I think in 5 years or so it will look really good.

Xiamen University, Xiang'an Campus, Tree

The largest tree I found on Xiang’an Campus

 

The books we used were from the Developing Chinese series (发展汉语), published by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press (北京语音大学出版社). They are the following:

Elementary Comprehensive Course (初级综合) I by 荣继华

ISBN: 978-7-5619-3076-2

Elementary Listening Course (初级听力) I by么书君

ISBN: 978-5619-3063-2

Elementary Speaking Course (初级口语) by 王淑红 么书君 严禔 张葳

ISBN: 978-5619-3247-6

 

I think they were very good. Although to focus on reading and writing you’ll need another book in the series, named Elementary Reading and Writing Course (初级读写) I, the Comprehensive Course does have some writing practices in it, but it focusses mainly on vocabulary and grammar. Listening and speaking focus on just that, but the vocabulary between the three books don’t match up completely, chapter per chapter. You can use these books for self-study, but I think you’ll get the most out of them if you have a good teacher as well.

 

If you’re also interested in studying at XMU, follow this link: http://english.xmuoec.com

 

Edit:

After asking for their permission to use their names I can now tell you that depending on their availability and whether or not they teach classes at your level, try to get in the classes of 苏芸 (Yún), 吴茗 (Wú Míng) and 肖宁遥 (Xiào Níngyáo). They were my teachers for Comprehensive, Speaking and Listening respectively and a lot of my improvement was due to their guidance.