Wednesday started off great because I was finally able to figure out how to get breakfast in the guesthouse! The first few days here, I ate the little food that I had brought from home, but eventually I needed to figure out how to get the breakfast that is provided. On Tuesday I attempted to figure out how the system works, but I was unsuccessful. The woman serving breakfast in the morning doesn’t speak English, so communication was difficult when she was talking to me in Chinese and I was speaking to her in English. Neither of us understood what the other was saying. Eventually, I gave up and decided to try again another day. On Wednesday I went down stairs, but when I was faced with the same problem a nice man came up to me and the lady serving breakfast and translated what we were saying. It turns out that I need to stop at the front desk to get a pass for breakfast every morning. I am so glad I have finally figured it out! On Wednesday I began working more on creating a PowerPoint presentation for the first two chapters in the book, Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers by Mimi Zeiger. In the afternoon, Jiaqi took me to USTC’s English Learning Center to meet some other native English-speaking people. I did not think this was necessary because I have been communicating pretty well with the other students in the lab, but I went anyway because I know that having another English speaking contact is a good thing for me. Professor Xu and the other students in the lab have gone above and beyond to make me feel comfortable and I have been so appreciative of all their efforts! When we reached the English Center, we learned that we are unable get the contact information of the faculty. Instead, Jiaqi and I waited in front of the office for one of the teachers to walk by so that I could stop them to talk. The only American teacher I saw walk in was an older man named George. After talking about it, Jiaqi and I decided that we felt uncomfortable stopping people to find new English-speaking friends, so we went back to the lab.
On Thursday I woke up early for the microencapsulation group meeting. During this meeting most of the students give a brief description of what they have been working on in the past week. There are 3 students chosen to give a detailed presentation of their work for the 2 weeks prior. This meeting lasted all morning, and was difficult for me to understand. Though many of the slides were in English, there was a lot of discussion throughout the presentation that was all in Chinese. After this meeting the group went to lunch. Instead of getting rice and veggies like I normally do, I decided to get noodles instead. The way lunch and dinner are set up I am generally able to point to the dishes I want, and scan my card to pay for them. I am so lucky that this process doesn’t require me to speak, because that would make getting food a more difficult process. Unfortunately, getting noodles required more communication with the individual working the station. I again was faced with the situation where I was speaking to someone in English who didn’t understand the language. I tried to motion what I wanted on the noodles, but when the people around me started laughing, I took my food and tried to find the other people from my lab. The other individuals were saving us seats, and I had a lot of trouble finding them. When I finally did, I was walking between tables to get to my seat and I spilled my food all over the floor. Unfortunately, the embarrassment did not end there because it is much more difficult to eat noodles with chopsticks than it is to eat rice. After taking a lot of pointers on how to eat my food, I finally figured out a method that worked for me. Overall, it was a humbling lunch experience. After lunch I finished up my PowerPoint presentation for Friday!
On Friday I spent my morning working on a BBS post. BBS is a forum for all the students to give short updates on what they have been working on. Since I had done a lot of reading throughout the week, I had a lot to update the other students about. I went to lunch with the lab and afterwards went home to rest before going back to the lab. Unlike students in the United States, Chinese students generally take a nap after lunch until about 2:00pm. I have not gotten used to this difference yet, and usually go back to the lab much earlier than the other students. I also leave much earlier than the other students do at night. Some people will stay in the lab until around 10:00pm. At around 2:30pm, I had my presentation about word choice and sentence structure when writing research papers. I think this book is very interesting because it has shown me how many mistakes I make in my writing. There are a couple of students in the lab who plan to study abroad in the United States and need to take the TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language). I think that the presentation was very beneficial for these students. Overall, it lasted about a half an hour and went very well! I will be giving another one next Friday about paragraph structure and writing an introduction. For dinner on Friday I went to the mall with a couple of students I have met from working in the lab. This was the first time I tried eating the marrow from a pig bone. As shown in the photo below, we were given gloves to hold the bone, and a straw to eat the bone marrow.
During my stay in China I have seen a lot of food that I would not see in the United States. Some of the different foods I have seen so far are solidified pigs blood and chicken feet. There are also bones in most of the meat that is served. The other students think that don’t like meat, but I actually haven’t figured out how to eat it yet. Most of the other students are able to eat the chicken meat and spit out the bones. Hopefully I learn how to do this soon!
Above is a photo of Kang Lin Lin and I at dinner on Friday
This is a photo of Gan Qi and Ren Wenqi from dinner on Friday