Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Blog 17

Monday and Tuesday:

Monday morning we woke up early to explore Fenghuang. We started the day with our tour guide who brought us on a boat ride across Tuojiang River and to a couple of houses where famous people once lived. After a while, Jiaqi and I decided to break away from the group because neither of us knew these famous people, and it was extremely crowded.  We walked around the city looking at all of the souvenirs shops. We tried a lot of new food and took a lot of photos! I was very happy we were able to explore on our own for a bit!

A photo of Tuojiang River
After lunch at the hotel, we got back on the bus for another long ride. We drove for about 6 and a half hours back to Changsha, Hunan.
There was a mall near our hotel that we went to for dinner. The restaurant served the local food, which was delicious. I am lucky I love spicy food as much as I do, because I have eaten a lot of it! We walked around the mall for a little bit and got some groceries for the train ride the next day. Afterwards, we went on a hunt for a special dish that one of the girls wanted to try while she was in Changsha. It was small lobster in a spicy and tangy sauce that was incredible. I wrote down the ingredients so that I can try to make something similar when I am back at home, but with my limited cooking ability I doubt I can create something nearly as tasty.
On Tuesday we woke up early to for our last tour of Hunan University. This school was founded over 1000 years ago during the Song Dynasty as the Yuelu Shuyuan Academy. We were able to see the ancient library and temples of this University.
In the afternoon we caught our train back to HeFei, and then a bus to school. We didn’t arrive back until around 7:00 pm.
I am so happy I was able to go on this trip with Jiaqi! It was an incredible opportunity to learn about some of China’s history and to see some truly remarkable sights.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday:
Wednesday I spent the day getting organized and back in a flow in the lab. I posted on BBS about my work to update the other students. I should be doing this every day, but the website is in Chinese and I have trouble navigating it by myself, so I have only been doing it about once a week. I also sent emails and discussed with my eye model group about the project. Right now we are still looking for an appropriate material to print the model. Progress is slow because we are unable to buy a flexible material to print the part. Instead, we will have to send the model out to be printed. From what I understand, this may be due to the flexible 3D printable material being new technology. Hopefully we are able to get this model printed soon! I have contacted a company about printing the model and am waiting to hear their response.
On Thursday we had our usual morning meeting that lasted up until lunch. Later that afternoon I talked to Yuan Shuai about an experiment that I can do that will be beneficial to his work and will help me become more familiar with the electrospray experiment. I will be testing the effect the distance between the needle and the electrode has on the morphology of the stable Taylor cone. To do this, I will be using the same PLGA solution, flow rate, and voltage to find the stable Taylor cone at different distances. Due to the meetings we had the rest of the week I will not be starting this project until Monday. Below is a photo another student took of Yuan Shuai and I. On Thursday evening, I went to yoga with Yuan Shuai’s girlfriend, Wan Yuhong!
Friday I spent my day the way I have for many other weeks. I spent my morning preparing for my presentation that I would give at the meeting after lunch. This week I presented on the discussion section of a journal article and on tables and figures. Overall, the meeting went very well! Other students have begun participating in the meetings, and I have become more comfortable speaking in front of everyone! After dinner I went to another yoga class. Though these classes are difficult, I enjoy the challenge!
Saturday and Sunday:
I anticipated that this weekend I would have a lot of time to relax and read a new book that I have had trouble putting down, but I found that my schedule quickly became packed with things to do!  On Saturday Dr. Shao, another advisor in Professor Xu’s lab, took me and two other students to see some of the sights around HeFei. He drove us to see some of the historic sites, including the grave of famous government officer from the Song Dynasty, Bao Zheng. Below is a photo of wax figures depicting Bao Zheng bringing the husband of the emperor’s daughter to justice.

Above is a photo of the girls in front of Qingfengge tower.

Dr. Shao then drove us to see Swan Lake, which was in the downtown area of HeFei. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by a park and office buildings in the distance. When it started to rain we went to dinner at a hot pot restaurant in mall nearby! Below are some pictures of the rest of our day.

Sunday was another eventful day for me. I went to KTV with 5 other USTC students, including Jiaqi and Lei Fan. I was very excited about this because I heard a lot about KTV from other students. I learned that KTV is similar to karaoke, and that it is what the students do when they need to relax or celebrate an accomplishment. We were having one last celebration with Jiaqi before she left to go back home for the rest of the summer. When we arrived, we went to a small room that was just for our group. We had lots of snacks, and there was a big couch facing a TV screen that would play the music video and song lyrics. We spent about 4 hours singing different songs and eating. I found it funny that in the beginning that everyone was singing sad slow love songs. I decided to try to mix it up a bit by singing “Pop” by N’SYNC. I think the change in pace came as a shock to the others. The other solo song I sang was “Why Wait” by Rascal Flatts. Below is a photo of the group at KTV!

We all got pretty tired of all the singing at around 5 so we got dinner at a restaurant nearby. It was another hot pot restaurant, but this time each person had their own bowl instead of sharing one large one. It was a buffet style restaurant so we were able to choose whatever we wanted to eat! It made me laugh that the workers at the restaurant were very shocked to see me. I was the first American they had visit the restaurant.  
Right after dinner I went with Junyuan Chen to go swimming with other people from USTC. I love to swim so I was excited to go, but I was also very curious about what this would be like. Back home if I go swimming with friends we would generally play games and jump off the diving board at an outdoor pool. This pool was indoors and very crowded. We ended up just swimming laps and stopping frequently to talk. I was happy to find I could keep up well with the other people there! I was even invited to join the dragon boat rowing team for USTC. The team will have a few practices before a big competition in July, and they need both girls and boys on the team. I need to make sure I will be able to do this, but I am very excited about the opportunity!

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