This weekend at home marks the first long weekend of the summer season. And even though I’m missing out on that, I’ve managed to enjoy a long weekend here in Dalian as well.
As it turns out there were no classes on Friday, because Dalian Nationalities University was hosting various local universities as part of a massive track and field event. This allowed me a day to catch up on some work, saunter around the neighbourhood, and basically stuff my face with all the local goodies I could find.
But first, I went to the track and field opening ceremonies. It was a fantastic experience, and they couldn’t have picked a better day. The sky was free of all but the faintest wisp of a cloud. The sun was rather strong1, and the temperatures quickly climbed from 22C when I woke up in the morning, to 27C by midday. Students were decked out in traditional garb, or in specific colours representing the university, college, or program they were in. Some students wore military uniforms – and for the life of me, I have no idea how they weren’t overheating. The stadium was packed, and there seemed to be a constant roar coming from the crowd.
After watching the opening ceremonies, I stuck around to watch the 100m races, as well as the 4x100m relays. The speed of some of the racers blew my mind and with every heat, the crowd seemed to get louder and louder. During the men’s 4x100m relay, the sound was deafening. I’m guessing that the winning team was from DNU, or are particularly popular.
The interesting part, however, is that the competitors didn’t seem to be exclusively elite athletes. That is, the event seemed more about getting out there and trying. Each event had several heats – and it seemed to me that they ranged from completely untrained athletes to the elites. And the crowd cheered for every single one of them. And when the races ended, the athletes were high fiving each other, and hugging, seemingly sharing the same rush of the cheering crowd. It was a fantastic display of sportsmanship.
The rest of the week has been equally fantastic. Between classes, I’ve been sauntering off in various directions from my home base at the old DNU campus. I’ve stumbled on an incredibly beautiful park. I’ve found numerous markets, and every one has been an incredible mix of sights, sounds, and smells. Between the intense colours, the cacophony of voices and horns and music, the aromas of fruits and sweet pastries, and of both savoury and spicy dishes, it’s almost a bit of sensory overload. An incredibly amazing and delicious sensory overload.
I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to experience Dalian again. And I’m even more grateful that I have another 10 or so days to discover even more.
1 I may or may not have fried my nose.