China Research


Changes and Home

Having been here two weeks, the research aspect of things has been going significantly slower than I thought it would. I have a presentation scheduled for tomorrow and we finalized our procedure yesterday. Today, we will be washing glassware in preparation for the experiment which is scheduled to start next week. I am glad that this is all finally starting to fall in place; however, it did not happen as efficiently as I hoped it would. I was hoping to be able to jump right into my project, just like internships in the US where they throw you in the deep end and your two options are to sink or swim. However, things are a little gentler here, where reading research articles and background material are top priorities.
In the two weeks that we have had here, we have been able to visit many places around Xiamen and travel to Beijing. One thing that struck me as a strange concept is the fact that taxi drivers now take tips, even when none have been willingly given. Prof Duncan took a taxi with us from a restaurant one night and the taxi driver took a 1RMB tip. When we were coming back from the airport, the same thing occurred, where they rounded the price off to the nearest five and kept the rest of the change. This has never happened before and I was surprised that it occurred in Xiamen of all places in China. Places that I would expect to see this would be in Beijing, Shanghai and possibly Hong Kong. Whereas in comparison, Xiamen does not have a significantly high expatriate population nor is it a very big city. This is proof of globalization and the influence of developed countries on the rapidly developing ones.
Going back to Beijing was a nice change for me. I enjoyed being back with my family even though I was only there for the long weekend. Shopping with Gabby was also very interesting, especially when we started bargaining for things. The prices that they started off at were ridiculous and we would eventually get whatever we wanted for a fifth of the price. Being of Chinese ethnicity, I never realized how ridiculously high the prices were set for foreigners and it really was a guessing game as to how much the real prices of things are. Visiting the Great Wall was also different this time. I usually go to the Great Wall with people who are not willing to pay for the cable car ride up and so I’ve always hiked up to it. Hence, by the time everyone got up there, we were tired, sweaty and unable to appreciate it. Being there more than once, the goal was to make it further down the Wall each time, but this time, we ended up taking more photos than we did walking. It was a very clear day and we could see the Great Wall run for miles up, down and around the surrounding mountains. I think that the company is what makes the trip and I am glad that I finally got to appreciate the Great Wall for all that it was, magnificent.
Having come back to Xiamen, I must admit that I was a little homesick. Being at school, I was always kept busy trying to stay on top of classes, work, and ECSAR that I never really understood why people would get homesick. I thought of myself as immune to it or that I didn’t miss being home. Now, I’m glad I can say, “yes I do miss being home”.