The joys of weekend excursion trips spent exploring the vast treasures of different Chinese cities, the unidentifiable emotion of spending my summer days in research lab and writing papers, the unforgettable gratefulness for hospitable friends and family, the odd oxymoronic feeling of being comfortably at home yet at the same time being unfamiliar and shy … This summer’s China research internship has confirmed, if it wasn’t apparent before, that I am definitely not a robot because I definitely have a large pool of human emotions to dabble in.
This is a part 2 to my previous blog post, so picking up where I left off, the latter part of my study abroad trip consisted of research, weekend excursion trips, and exploration of identity (lol jk, we’re not that deep) Hangzhou. Amidst the weekday research days, one weekend activity included us going to Yiwu and exploring the Great Shopping Mall there, as well as Movie City and the wannabe Forbidden City. The name Movie City really is justified because we saw multiple production crews filming on the sets there.
Another excursion led us to Tianhuangping, which is a pumped power station at a water reservoir mountain. Unfortunately the weather for this whole month has been pretty sad so when we got there it was rainy, isolated, and foggy. Nevertheless, we hiked on, but the mountains did not welcome our enthusiasm. The rain started pouring down and we soon realized that this fog we were walking in was a big storm cloud with a mission to leave us drenched, cold, and salty. We might as well have been carrying around paper cocktail umbrellas because our umbrellas were useless against the blowing wind and directionally-challenged rain. The ultimate drawback from this resulted in my stomach being upset to food and sensitive to the cold for 15 days straight, triggered by this one cold, rainy experience. It was pretty painful and definitely quite a big obstacle because it was disappointing, frustrating, and inconvenient to deal with, but I went to the hospital to get medicine, and after a while, it returned back to normal.
On a brighter experience, we got to travel around Hangzhou and see the West Lake, a tea museum, and the Song Dynasty Show. The Song Dynasty Show was located inside a big park area that we explored. For me, it was my second time there and seeing the show, but it still left me in awe of the acrobats, lighting and production effects, the costumes and dress, and the elegantly-delivered stories.
Other trips included going on company visitation tours to Inventronics, an LED energy company, and Wahaha Group, a drink and beverage manufacturing company. They led us through their buildings and different departments to see how they function. At Wahaha, they even had a museum detailing their history and startup products. We got to see their whole process of the production line as well. AND they gave us 2-3 free drinks of our choice, because all that walking made us thirsty right?
Also, since I have family in Hangzhou they took me out to Shangyu for a weekend to go blueberry picking. We brought back 27 small boxes of organic, self-hand-picked blueberries. They tasted really good and sweet! Since the blueberries clearly outnumberd the abilities of our family of 4, my aunt turned a good chunk of the blueberries into blueberry jam and it tastes amazing. I like to eat it plain in spoonfuls or as a topping to my plain yogurt. Homemade just makes everything taste better. I feel extremely grateful to have family here, living a mere 10 min walk from my dorm or lab. They lovingly take me out to dinner, visit me in my dorm or buy me things to use.
Now to address the unidentifiable emotion of spending my summer days in research lab and writing papers:
As of this point, we have already concluded all the lab work and have spent the past week writing the research paper. We are in charge of writing the introduction for the research paper and it will be used it in the published paper, printing our names onto the paper in the Bioresources Technology journal. We also have to write the other portions like results, discussions, and conclusion, as required by the research internship course I’m technically under, so that is what I’m procrastinating doing by writing this blog post right now, because science words are hard L. I have to research other studies so I can make comparisons of literature, gather supporting evidences for my explanations, and analyze my results with justified claims. It sounds so hard when I talk or think about it, but when I really get working on it sometimes I get the hang of it and I feel unstoppable. That is, until the internet disconnects … an all too familiar recurrence.
The program technically ends today, since the UIUC students went back to Chicago today, while all the Chinese students traveled back to their hometown. Yesterday, as a send-off, my grad student declared an impromptu lab photoshoot and we all went out for dinner after with the lab students. My grad student has been such a blessing to work with; she explained everything to me from the beginning. She gave us time, at first, to watch her work and learn, then, slowly started integrating us into helping with her work and assisting. By the end, we knew the procedure and understood all that was going on. It seems that we came at the perfect time to intern with her since she was just about finishing up her experiments so we were able to get a taste of the lab process as well as the research paper writing process. Plus, we were able to produce final conclusions during the time we were here, so that we can leave with our hearts full and minds satisfied with the work that was done.
I remember a few areas of concern I noted coming into this trip that included lack of research experience and a possibility of too much Chinese experience that might result in dull sightseeing moments. However I feel that that was not a hindrance at all. I’m pretty satisfied, to say the least, with how the research internship experience has turned out. I didn’t experience culture shock or anything extreme, but my time here in China was definitely not boring and I appreciated all the touristy things we did. Although this trip has ended, I know I will keep on learning in these areas even beyond the program date of this trip, I will explore the applications this experience has taught me, and I will most definitely be looking out for more chances to partake in trips that open up my perspective on life! Look out World: Here I come~
This is my story,
Michelle Yin | June 29, 2016 | 7:30pm