Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm home now!

During the last few days after finishing work I spent time shopping and we went back to some of our favorite restaurants and places from the trip. We spent some of the time cleaning up the apartment before we left and packing our things. About three days before leaving I was really excited to go back home, but then on the last day I was feeling sad about leaving. I had a ton of fun in those last few days, and I think that was because all of us were off of work so there was nothing left that we ever really had to do if we didn’t feel like it.

After making it home, I am sure I want to go back sometime as soon as I can. I think the next thing I’d do is maybe return to focus on studying Chinese language, at least for awhile before doing anything else. I feel like I need a little more of a foundation for learning the language before I will be able to learn quickly just from going around and interacting with people. I definitely had a lot of fun though, and I am really happy that I went.

It’s not as strange of a feeling to be home as I thought it would be, at all. I kept thinking, ‘wow, how weird will it be to speak to everyone who speaks English again?’ but really it took virtually no time to get readjusted to being in the US. I just still feel like the places we spent all of our summer at aren’t that far away though… as if I could just return quickly if I wanted to, despite it being almost 24 hours of travel time away.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Poster Session

Last night was our joint poster session with the group of students from PKU who are at UM right now. I thought it went really well, everyone gave good presentations, and Wei Wang gave an excellent final presentation that was a great way to end the night (or morning in Ann Arbor). We had a really nice room here at PKU in which to view the presentations. There were three separate screens, one so we could see the other students in Ann Arbor, one for the poster being displayed, and one so that we could see what the other students were seeing in our room. It was a really comfortable place to have the presentations, and I was impressed with how well it went.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Last Week Here!

I can’t believe it’s our last week here! The work in the lab is slowing down and I’ve just been spending most of my time preparing my poster for the presentation and taking it easy. I think it’s going to feel weird to go home at first, but I’m looking forward to it. Brian and Tiffany and I have been eating at some new places that we hadn’t gone to earlier in the trip, and getting some last shopping done. It’s been raining a lot though lately so it’s not really been ideal for going out too much. I think we’ve got a lot of cleaning to do this weekend, our apartment is kind of a mess and we’ve been putting off cleaning for the last couple of weeks because we knew we’d have to do it again at the end anyway.

I keep thinking too about how when I get back home everything is going to cost more again, and I feel like I’m not going to want to buy anything because it will all seem so expensive compared to everything here! In China I can get a good meal at a restaurant for $3 or less pretty much anywhere! I dread having to go back and pay American prices!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tiffany's Birthday Celebrations

This week I feel like work is getting kind of boring… I don’t have that many experiments left to finish up, and the ones I have left each take awhile to run so I have a lot of free time. I can’t believe the trip is almost over though and that we only have about 10 days left here! The past three weeks have gone by really fast, and I don’t really know where the time went.

We went out on Tuesday night to a Mexican restaurant for Tiffany’s birthday. It was on the other side of the city and while we were getting there we walked through an area that has embassies for a ton of other countries. There were a lot of guards around at all of them and we found out we aren’t allowed to take pictures of them though. After dinner we went shopping in a really big mall and we had wanted to go to an outdoor market we heard about but it started raining so we headed home instead.

Wednesday was Tiffany’s actual birthday, and so on Wednesday we all went out with her lab to a karaoke bar/restaurant and her lab had gotten her the biggest birthday cake I’d ever seen. Afterwards we got some pizza while we waited for another huge rainstorm to pass by so that we could go get a cab go get back home. It’s been raining a lot here lately.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

This last week I feel like I’ve gotten more done in the lab than I had been in previous weeks… which is good because I was concerned that I wasn’t getting a whole lot of work done. I still don’t know that I’ll have a lot of results to present at the poster session in 2 weeks… but maybe I’ll be able to get a lot done this next week.

A couple of people I know from the research lab were preparing for the TOFEL exam… it was this Saturday. It seems like a pretty hard thing to cram for right before you take it… since it’s a test on a whole language and especially the spoken part seems hard to study for in a short period of time. I spent some time this week helping out a friend from my lab with practicing for the exam. There was also a talk this week given by an organic chemist who was a nobel prize winner in the 90’s, but his talk was actually about China’s fuel economy and what options are available in the future. It was pretty good I thought… I found it interesting because it focused on a lot of more practical issues that everyone (from different fields) could relate to. It was a tricky situation though for a lot of people to understand his speaking I felt like, since it was in English but with a very strong (I think Hungarian) accent. Earlier that day even, my friend from the lab had been saying how he has trouble understanding other non-native English speakers because of their accents.

On Saturday I played badminton with a couple of people from my lab, and it was a lot of fun. I hadn’t played since I was really young I think but it was pretty easy to get used to again. It was really hot though, I think I drank about 3 bottles of water during the couple of hours we played. Today I spent some time at starbucks working on medical school applications and we went out to get pizza for dinner at the Kro’s nest.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Week 7

Last Sunday Brian and I had dinner w/ three girls from the Simmons College in Boston. Then we headed home to watch some prison break and Tiffany was at her lab having her lab meeting. We love prison break now… and I’m afraid of what I’m going to do once we finish watching season 2. It won’t be quite as bad as when lost season 3 finished but I’ll have to look for something else to watch. I better go to the movie store after working or at lunch today.

Hmm, on Monday we went with some people to the Movie Night at Lush, they showed the Matrix and it was in English, haha! It was cool to watch that but it was really loud and hard to talk at all. After the movie night we looked at some dogs at a dog market that is apparently where all of the individual dog sellers go at night or something (at least I think that’s what this guy was explaining…). The dogs were incredibly cheap compared to American prices for dogs… you could get a dog for about $10 USD. I felt bad for these dogs though b/c I donno what happens to them if they get too old before they are sold… all of them are really young puppies.

Yeah then on Tuesday after lab I just stayed in and watched some Prison Break and did a little work on the med school applications… those things are never going to get finished. Wed. we went to this outdoor food market place where they cook food outside and we ate a huge pile of chicken wings. It was a really nice night to be outside. After that I went to the propaganda club for a bit with my friend Victoria and a bunch of people from her program here but I came home very early.

Yesterday night I stayed in and talked to my girlfriend online for a long time. She’s in Ghana this summer and we don’t get to talk often enough. Tiffany was at a lab meeting and there was a lot of confusion about how she was getting home. I guess what happened was she got a cab near the restaurant they ate at but somehow she ended up sharing it with a couple of people who were headed the same way… but it was late at night and she was understandably nervous about the situation so she just got out of the cab near the JI building and called Brian and I. It was a bit disappointing to hear that someone had stuck her in a cab w/ unfamiliar people, as it was dark out and for a girl in a big city that just seems like a pretty scary situation. Anyway though so we got a cab to where she was and just all came back together. I was pretty happy with our ability to explain to the cab driver that we just wanted to go back to where we had come from b/c he didn’t seem to know the same name for our apartment complex as we did at first but it wasn’t too difficult. I’m nowhere near as good at Chinese as I would have expected to be for being here almost 7 weeks now. hahaha I always think of how embarrassing it will be when my friends at home see how little Chinese I’ve learned.. I know enough to get around and stuff but that’s very little and having a real conversation would be nearly impossible… :(

Oh, and on Wed. afternoon the wallet and cell phone of a guy from my lab were taken right out of the lab computer room! I mean that stuff happens at home too but it’s crazy how much crime we’ve been hearing about lately. I was really happy that I had my computer with me or it would probably be long gone. Anyway, needless to say, I’m being extra careful with things now!

This weekend Brian has found a place we might go to called “Happy Valley”. It’s some kind of amusement park and it looks like it has shows and stuff too so we might go out there.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Last few days

We’ve gotten a new door on our apartment now. We haven’t heard anything back from the police about anything related to the break-in… but it seems like it might be nearly impossible for them to catch whoever did it anyway. The lab work is going well. I had kind of a funny thing happen in the lab… I’ve learned how to tell the solvent bottles in the lab apart by the characters, and so I know the character for water but there’s one that comes before it that probably means like ‘pure’ or something, I’m not really sure what it is but so I just know the water one. I was filling up this water bottle the other day and I’m smelling something really strong and I thought someone was just using something with a strong odor and so I keep filling up the bottle and then the guy I work with comes over and he’s like oh that’s not water! It turned out it was a really concentrated solution of ammonia and so the character for water is still there but the other one was different. So I’m an idiot anyway and now I know to look at it more carefully or to just smell it.

Yesterday I worked on some med school applications and Tiffany got a manicure or pedicure or something like that and Brian played a lot of basketball in the morning. At night we went to Kro’s nest again for dinner and then I went to the San Li Tun area (not sure if I spelled that right) with my friend Victoria to meet up with some other people we met here. It’s a really long cab ride to get there but I actually like it b/c you get to see a lot of the city and stuff it’s pretty cool I’d almost take the cab rides just for fun. We went to a bunch of bars and clubs and stuff and it was a ton of fun… probably my favorite thing I’ve done here so far. I didn’t realize how late it was though… I didn’t check my phone all night and when I got out of the cab near home I was thinking, ‘boy, it’s bright out at night’ and then I realized the sun was rising and I was like, oh crap… hahaha. Well it was a lot of fun and I feel kind of dead today but I’d def. do it again. We also met some girls from Simmons College who are here for a chemistry program also and we’re having dinner w/ them in about an hour. I honestly donno if I’ll be able to stay awake for it but hopefully it’ll be fun.