Monday, August 10, 2009


Well I am finally back in the states and it is great. The last week was so great that I really was sad to leave. I was so excited to come back home and see my family that I did not think I would be so sad to leave and say bye to everyone. The last week went by so fast. We pretty much spent the time hanging out and saying our goodbyes to all the people we met in China. I knew it would be sad to say goodbye to the people in the program that I had met but I did not think it would be that bad saying goodbye to my lab. Not only did I learn a lot about research and science but also I learned a lot about China from my lab. It was truly sad to say goodbye to the grad students.

When we had to say goodbye to everyone in the program the morning we were leaving we were all truly sad. During the last 2 ½ months we had all become so close it was hard to believe that we were all going our separate ways now. We took pride in the fact that when we went around China we could all say that we were Americans, like we were all part of the same group, now we realize that even though we are all Americans we live so far away from each other. There is truly something special about being in a foreign country with people from the same country as you, it binds you in a way that I can never imagine and I am sad that it has finally come to an end. However, like they say, all truly great things must come to an end, I am just happy that I got to experience this. All in all I was excited to come back to the US and see my family and get ready to move into my dorm.

The first day I got back I was really happy because I finally got to see my family but after the first day it all wore off and now I want to be back in China. This truly was a rewarding experience. Not only have I learned so much about research and discovered new things that I hope to take back with me to my lab in Ann Arbor but I have learned more about myself and the person I want to be and for that I am truly grateful!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Last two weeks!

So as it turns out I did not totally finish my abstract and poster that same week but I did get a lot done. It is really nice because my grad student let me work on my abstract and poster a lot in lab instead of running a bunch of other experiments. Now that we are in the final stretch and we are finally getting close to going home I am starting to realize how much I am going to miss it here in China. I am soo excited to go home but here it feels like I have made a whole new family with my lab and the other students in the program. For the last two and a half months we have spent so much time with each other and have gotten to know each other so well it is going to be sad when we all have to leave. As sad as it is I can still say this has been one of the best experiences of my life!

Besides counting down the days until I go home this past week has been great. This weekend we all pretty much spent working on our abstracts and posters and buying gifts to take back home. We spent so long in China that we all did not even think about buying gifts to take back home because we thought it was going to be so long before we finally went back home, now we are all scrambling around trying to buy gifts in these last two weekends we have in China. The weekend was still really fun, we did almost all of our shopping at the Pearl Market which is jam-packed all the time with foreigners. We were all so tired and hungry by the end of the day because we spent so much time at the Pearl Market. It is not like regular shopping at all. You can spend 15 minutes trying to buy something; bargaining is great. I remember when we first came to the Pearl Market during the first week we were here, we all were totally imitated trying to bargain and buy things. Now we have been here for so long that we were totally fine bargaining and arguing with them. It does, however, ware you out and all you want to do is pull your hair out of your head by the end of the day. We spent both Saturday and Sunday at the Pearl Market so we were pretty much worn out in the evenings. It was still a great weekend, I am happy I am finally done shopping for people in my family and I finally have all my gifts done and bought. These next two weeks are going to go by really fast, now I have to take in every aspect of China I can because pretty soon I will be back in the states!


This was such a fun weekend!!! Saturday was pretty much a chill day around Beijing because a lot of us went out Friday night and we were all really exhausted. Later that evening we all layed around and watched movies-we wanted to save our energy for Sunday. We had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning on Sunday because a few of us planned a trip to go to this park where they have bungee jumping, canoeing, and other fun stuff. It took us a while to get there because we had to continuously transfer from bus to bus and we were all exhausted because we made the stupid decision to stay up all night in anticipation for Sunday but in the end it was so worth it. The first thing we did when we got there was go bungee jumping-I was soo scared it was ridiculous, but so much fun. Before I went I wanted to chicken out so bad but I forced myself to do it and it was without a doubt worth it. The best part was it was not expensive at all. We went bungee jumping, sky walking, and canoeing for 250 RMB, which is really cheap compared to how much you would have to pay for it in America. It was also cool that we got to leave Beijing for a little bit and see more of the other surrounding areas around the city. Where we were was definitely not a big city like we were all used to. The area looked a lot more like the country and people definitely liked looking at us a lot more because we were foreigners-which is not so common in Beijing because there are soo many foreigners in Beijing. The day, however, was really long but so worth it. Going there and back was a pain because the seats on the bus are small but being at the park was great and I definitely recommend that anyone that comes to Beijing sets a day aside to go visit this area.

Other than having one of the best weekends ever I have started to realize that it is officially crunch time. We have our poster session coming up in two weeks and we need to have our abstracts and posters done by then so I really need to get working on those. Working in the lab here has been really great and I have learned a lot, now I have to get working on the poster. It is still hard to believe we have been in China this long, even though it is not long enough for good solid results, I have had a blast and have learned so much from working in the lab. I have learned a lot about the projects the lab does and more science but the best part I think is that the grad students taught me so many new things about working in a lab that will be very helpful when I go back to working in my lab in Ann Arbor. This past week was amazing-now I need to get back to work, I am determined to finish this abstract and poster this week!


Opps! It has been soo long since I have blogged, not so good. Anyways, I cannot believe we are more then half way done with our trip to China. This has been going by so fast and every moment has been so much fun. I have finally started to make a lot of progress in my research and I am starting to get a lot more comfortable going places by myself. Before I was not so confident in going to the grocery store and other places by myself because of the language barrier but I have started to pick up on a lot of things and I have become really comfortable with living in the city. I finally feel like I have established a schedule here and that I have a daily routine almost everyday. It is still hard to believe that we leave in less than a month. As excited, as I am to go home and see my family, I know I will definitely miss life here in Beijing.

These past couple of weeks have been somewhat relaxing and fun. Most of the time people would not associate research with being relaxing but it really is not so bad at all. Once you get to know the people in the lab and become comfortable working in the lab, going to work everyday becomes fun. My experience so far has led me to feel that the labs here are a lot more stress free and friendly then the labs back home. People do not just come in at 9am and leave at 5pm; working in the lab is not just a job but rather a big part of their life. People go to lunch and dinner with the people in their lab and also stay in lab late into the night. Sometimes they do not even stay in the lab to work but just stay to talk and discuss things together. The atmosphere in the lab is really relaxed but also there is a sense of hard work and time constraints that does not let you get to relaxed. Basically work has been great and it will be sad when I have to say bye to the students I have been working with because they really have been helping me a lot!

Since our trip to Qingdao I have not really gone anywhere outside of Beijing. A couple people took a trip to Hong Kong and Shanghai but I unfortunately could not get off of work to go. During the week I have little time to do anything but go to dinner with the other people in the program. During the day we are all working and in the evenings we are all usually exhausted. I usually come home from work and meet up with a few people to go to the gym then grab some dinner. Occasionally we will watch a movie or just hang out in the courtyard. There is a lot more time to do things on the weekends. There is soo much to do in Beijing, once you learn how to use the subway you can go soo many places. The subway will take you almost anywhere and the getting there is not that bad at all. Last weekend a bunch of us took the subway to this area next to a body of water, we rented a boat out for an hour and just cruised around. It was late in the evening and the city was surrounded by bars and other areas with lots of lights, it was really fun. This weekend was a lot more laid back. Last night instead of going out a couple of us walked along Chung Fu Lu (the major road we live on) and just went shopping. However, this was not ordinary shopping it was shopping amongst the vendors. There are soo many great things and the best part is you can always barter-which took me a while to get comfortable with. It is still early today so we will see what the day holds in store for us!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trip to Qingdao!

What can I say about Qingdao? The trip was definitely something worth doing while in China. Before going I envisioned a beach city that you would find in Florida or somewhere else in America, but it is nothing like that. There was so much to do in Qingdao but it was good that we made it a weekend trip because it would have gotten boring if we stayed longer. The train ride there was not bad at all; it was like 6 hours and we got soft seats so we were able to sleep or just rest but the train ride back was absolutely horrible. To save money we all bought hard seats, which was our first mistake but then we also took a slow train back so it took almost 10 hours to get back, which took forever. Everyone was absolutely miserable and tired especially because it was an overnight train. But other then the horrors of the train ride the trip was soo much fun. A big group of us went so it was almost impossible for us all to hang out together the whole time so we all broke up into groups for the whole trip, which worked out really well. After we arrived we all went to our hostiles to sleep because it was really late and we were all really exhausted. A few of us took a taxi to our hostile, which I must say was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. It started off with the driver totally ripping us off but we did not care because we were so tired and just wanted to get to the hostile. First we left the train station and went the opposite direction of the hostile, which we thought, was odd. We were freaked out, we all thought that our organs were about to be stolen then the driver stops in this shady alley, gets out of the cab and comes back 5 minutes later with a woman and food. He gets in and offers us to eat with him but when we refuse he starts having a conversation with the woman. After listening to them argue for 5 minutes he realizes that we really need to get somewhere so he finally takes us to the hostile. I was so happy to get out of that cab! I half expected the hostile to be dirty and uncomfortable but it was not bad at all. We stayed on the beach at a hostile called the Beach House and it was really nice. There were five of us in a room; the room was set up like a dorm only more spacious and a bathroom. On Saturday we spent all day on hiking around the mountain in Qingdao. We originally wanted to spend it on the beach but it was cloudy and the water was freezing so we decided to go hike around the mountain to find the waterfall. We spent 8 hours walking around the mountain looking at temples and searching for the waterfall, which we finally found around 7 hours into our excursion. Hiking up the mountain was definitely my favorite part of Qingdao. After that we were exhausted and worn out so we went and got dinner then rested. Later that night we went out to check out Qingdao nightlife. Qingdao is pretty enjoyable during the day but it does not compare at all to the nightlife in Beijing. The next day we slept in, and then we went to the Brewery. Apparently Qingdao is known for its beer, which I did not know going there. It was pretty cool to see the Brewery and walk around; a lot of the people in the group enjoyed it because during the tour you get to taste a few cups of different beer. After we wanted to kill some time because our train did not leave until 8 in the evening so we went and walked along the pier and the beach. It was a fun day and definitely a good way to end the trip. After we were so exhausted and sticky from the humidity that we just wanted to shower and sleep. Unfortunately we had to check out at 12 noon so we had no room-one of the best things about China is that everything is negotiable. A few of us negotiated a deal with the hostile, we wanted to shower and put on comfortable clothes for the train ride so we came up with deal to check out a room for an hour and pay 30 RMB (which is less than five American dollars) for it! Qingdao was a great city and is definitely worth visiting. Everything was enjoyable but I cannot help but relive that horrible experience on the train on my way back from Qingdao.
I did not sleep that whole night on the train and I had to be in lab at 9am, which was an hour after we got back from the train station. I was so tired that whole day in lab and when I finally fell asleep on my lab bench my grad student was really cool and told me I could go home and sleep. That Monday was the worst day ever. I have never stayed up for 24 hours straight but I never want to do that again! After sleeping all day and night I finally feel better. Today was like any other workday long and filled with experiments. Even though the week already started it feels like it is going to be a good week, now I just need all my experiments to work out right!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Condensed Week!

As things start to come along I have so little time to do other things. This idea of blogging everyday is really not going to well but I will make it work. These last couples of days have been crazy. I got out of work early on Tuesday which was good because later a few of us were able to go to Yoga class at the gym in the evening. The Yoga class was really nice, I am not going to lie it was really hard but it definitely tested my flexibility. After we came back we hung out outside in the courtyard (aka the meeting ground for all the people in this program). We are all very fond of buying watermelons and cutting them in the courtyard then inviting everyone to eat-great times in China. The next day was a lot crazier and did not allow for much free time. I was basically in the lab from 10am until 9pm doing work. It was a very long day filled with a lot, but I definitely enjoyed it because I learned a lot-especially stuff I can apply to the lab I work in at UM. At the time I was really tired and hungry because I did not get a chance to have lunch or dinner but later it definitely paid off to be in lab that long. After that long day I pretty much crashed, I was soo tired. The next day was better because I only had to go into lab for lab meeting, which sounds like an easy day but since lab meetings last four hours it still felt like a long day. The good thing about the day was that I got to meet some people from the group for lunch. We all usually only get to see each other in the evening after work for dinner, if we do not go to dinner with our lab, so it was nice taking a break in the middle of the day. To be totally honest I could not help but think about other things during lab meeting. This weekend about half of us planned a trip to Qingdao, which is where all the beaches are. Most of us could not get off of work Friday so we leave by train tonight around 5pm. Some of us got lucky and were able to leave Thursday evening so they get to spend some extra time enjoying the beach. All I know is that I am really excited and cannot wait until we go this weekend. Really the only ting we had to take care of before going was buying the train tickets there and back which cost 400 RMB and booking our room at the hostile. Four of us are staying together in a room at a hostile, which is right near the beach; I think you can now realize my level of excitement. I will save the details of our trip until after we actually go. Anyways the rest of the day turned out well. After lab meeting a few of us went running and then to the gym-great workout on a really hot day. Later we all went out, what else is there to do in China in the evening but to enjoy the nightlife? Well that’s all for now, I am so excited my three day weekend has arrived, next stop Qingdao!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Free Weekend!

This weekend was the first weekend we did not have anything planned as a group and I must say it was still a blast! Even though today had to be the hottest day of the year it was really fun. A bunch of us went out last night so everyone wanted to sleep in, we got a late start and then went to a mall/ice skating rink. It was fun and definitely a way to use up all of our free time. The best part of the day had to be later in the evening. A few of us went out for dinner and instead of eating at one restaurant we basically hit up a bunch of places and tried all sorts of food, it was actually really good. Then we walked down Chung Fu Lu (a road filled with a bunch of shops and street vendors) and looked at all of the things on the street. It is really weird because you would not expect the locals to be buying things from the street vendors but that is how a lot of the people buy their items. We spent a lot of time looking at everything, if there is something you need you will have no trouble finding it-we even saw a guy selling puppies, rabbits, snakes, and chipmunks. My favorite vendors are the ones that sell books and music. They have a wagon filled with books, both in english and chinese, they have such a huge selection and the books are really cheap. You could get the whole Harry Potter series for under 10 American dollars, the best part is all of the books still have the wrapping on them from the manufacturer. Another great vendor are the ones that sell music. A bunch of us wanted typical Chinese pop music, so we bought two cds They were definitely worth the five dollars we spent on them. Whether you want to go to the club, bar, chill in a cafe, or hit up the street vendors the night life in Beijing is definitely something anyone who comes to China has to experience. There is so much to do and the best part is anything you choose to do is nothing short of an adventure. I guess my prediction of charging through the haze was right, there was definitely a shinning light through all the fog, I only had to go looking for it!