Over the past few weeks, things have been very busy in the lab, with us taking advantage of every moment of free time to visit places around Xiamen and every moment in the lab to get our results and prepare for the final presentation.
From a lab point of view, everything went well, including the final presentation, even though we were relatively rushed getting everything together. As usual, everything that can go wrong goes wrong when it comes down to crunch time. Our acid did not arrive on time, we lacked volumetric tubes and were constantly unable to locate the professor with access to the machine (he refused to give us a key to the lab in the first place). In addition to all that was listed above, three days before we were scheduled to give our presentation, our machine decided that it was fed up with us and we had to take it apart. This was definitely an experience as I have never taken apart scientific equipment before. To me, they have always been either working or not working, and it never crossed my mind that I would personally be helping fix or diagnose the issue. Obviously, miracles happen and we managed to collect all our data within the allotted time and finish the presentation.
With hard work comes the need to play hard as well. I would like to start with a list of everything we did in the past two weeks. We went bowling, played basketball and badminton, went to the Zhangzhou campus TWICE, took a sketch village bus to visit the geological park, had “all you can eat” dessert, toured the Xiamen campus and even helped my grad student find an apartment and move into it. Within the last 3 days that we have left, we plan to go karaoke, spend a day in the botanical gardens and go on a sunset cruise around Xiamen Bay. I thoroughly enjoy the fun that I have had and will have with my lab mates. If not for their eagerness to show me around, I probably would not have had the chance to do half the things that I have done within these past two weeks, let alone seen everything that I have had these past 2 months.
Now that everything is said and done, and that our projects are finished. I have to say that I have accomplished what I had initially wanted to come to Xiamen to do. My goal was to figure out if I would be able to work and live in China (which is relatively closer to home). I now realize that there are many aspects of Chinese culture that I didn’t even know I missed after living in the States these past two years. I now realize that I am able to adapt back to the culture here and that working here would definitely be a possibility in the future. However, I also realize how much I will miss the States if I were to come back to Asia after I graduate. There will be a lack of individuality and independence that many people take for granted while in the States. The transition will not be an easy one and honestly, I do not know whether or not I would be willing to make it. However, figuring out the direction of my future was not the point of this internship. My goal was to “figure out if I would be able to work and live in China”, and my answer to that is: “If it comes down to it, I would be able to work and live here. It is an option.”