Name : Dr. Nic Tam
Hometown : Johannesburg/Cape Town, South Africa
家乡：南非约翰内斯堡 / 开普敦
Occupation : Sports Science Researcher
Years in China : Almost 3 years
在华居住时间：将近 3 年
How did your journey in China begin?
I always had a curiosity about living in China since my family is originally from The Guangdong Province, although it was not a priority of mine. My family left China in the early 1900s and only visited periodically so what I knew about the country were really old-fashioned and idealized stories that uncles, aunties and neighbors shared with me during family reunions and mahjong evenings. I studied in Cape Town and before coming to China I spent some time in Canada and Spain where I lead different research projects. My previous boss took up a contract to head up an innovation team in China. He spoke to me previously and I was offered a position to come work here while I was working as a visiting professor at the University of the Basque Country, in Bilbao. I came to visit Xiamen when I was offered the job and was deeply impressed. The city seemed pretty relaxed and laid back and it beat my expectations about a busy Chinese city.
What do you like most about China (or Xiamen)?
Safety is amazing and I take that for granted now. Additionally, there is a lot of convenience with services such as Taobao, WaiMai, Alipay, which can be done with your phone here, it is amazing. Something that impressed me, as a sports researcher, was the fact that the Chinese population is very active, regardless their age, everyone from the ayis (aunties) dancing in the square or the elderly practicing taichi in the park to how sports practice is imbued in the education system from a very young age to university levels. It impressed me that students have to pass a certain level sports courses to continue in their educational career, even if their major is not sports-related. The sports focus here is completely diverse and more focus is on basketball, badminton, ping-pong, etc. and not the disciplines I was exposed to back home such as cricket or cycling that are popular in South Africa. Interestingly enough, I have done dragon-boat races in South Africa in the past, but I have not had the chance to try it in China yet, although the Jimei Dragon Boat races are well-known! I hope I have the chance to join next time.
What fascinated you the most about living in China?
What fascinates me currently here is the overall development of the country and how rapid things get done here. The economic development is astounding and the industry is competitive. For instance, the sports company I work for is relatively young but extremely successful and developing at an amazing pace. The other fascinating thing is that Xiamen is practically the hub of Chinese sportswear companies. Most people are unaware of the fact that sports equipment factories are located in the neighboring city of Quanzhou, so for me, coming here to apply my sports research and knowledge to the actual development of the industry was undoubtedly the right decision.
What is your unique China story?
The first time that I actually participated in off-road trail running was in China. In my own experience, the unique thing that happened to me was that the distance advertised at the competition poster is never the real one, as it usually turns out to be longer! The longest distance I’ve done was 43 km and it was advertised as 42 km, and I thought it was a marathon on road but it turned out to be off-road and rough. Another time, I participated in a race near Sanming that was advertised as a 25 km run and ended up being 32 km! The organizers decided last minute that they wanted us to run next to the newly-built river promenade, making the race longer. It was a real challenge but totally worth the view and picturesque landscape.As a sports researcher and an Olympic Games fan, I look forward to the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics where China will certainly display the great infrastructure, sports equipment and hosting skills they showed in the past.
If you would like to contribute your story, feel free to contact us.