After a relaxing weekend at our homestays, it was time to wake up early once again to not attend classes at Nanjing University, but to go to our internship sites, which for me is at China's Pharmaceutical University. My host mom prepared my host brother and me each a warm bowl of red bean and date porridge with a fried egg on the side! We both scarfed down our breakfast in ten minutes and took some yogurt to go. My host brother is eight years old, so we first brought him to his elementary school. Because driving a car is not convenient in China, my host mom brought out her hot pink electric powered bike, and the three of us rode the bike to school, with my host brother in the front and me in the back, trying to manage the morning commute traffic. My host mom told me there are rarely any school buses, so for each motorcycle/bike I saw, I saw a child riding in the back seat, which I thought was really cute and unique to this culture.
After dropping off my host brother, my host mom and I took the bus to my internship. Because of traffic, it took nearly 45 minutes to get there! However, once I arrived, I was able to find Professor Li, and he took me to the lab I will be working at, introducing me to several students who are currently working on getting their masters. This week I will be working closely with Yang Ting, a third year student at this university who has a fascinating project regarding the various reactions to different antibodies in mice. We connected right away and compared American and Chinese culture, from schooling to pop culture. As part of her weekly routine, she showed me how to replace the mice bedding, food, and water as well as how to hold the mice! Tomorrow she's planning to show me how to inject the mice with antibodies.
Once we came back to the lab, it became more hectic because the graduating students of the lab were preparing for their thesis presentations that were held this afternoon. Yang Ting will have to present next year when she graduates, so while the other students prepared their presentations, she took Michelle Fong and me to the university's cafeteria for lunch. This cafeteria had a very interesting setup; there was a section where we could pick different types of meat and vegetables and sauté them together, served with rice on the bottom. After lunch, we went to buy fruits for the three professors who were attending the thesis presentations in the afternoon, one of whom was Professor Li. The presentation started at 2 pm; eight graduating students presented their PowerPoint slides to the rest of the students at the lab, and the professors graded them based on how well they presented their results as well as, interestingly enough, how well they translated their Chinese abstract into English. Even though I barely understand Chinese lab language, it was interesting to observe the students' reactions to some of the professors' comments.
My internship ended at 5 pm, and my host mom and I rode the motorbike to pick up my host brother from his acting class. Because my host brother was craving Western food today, we decided to head to Pizza Hut to taste how pizza in China differs from that in America. I have to say; Pizza Hut is ten times more fancy in China, for one of our appetizers was shrimp stuffed squid! After dinner, we headed back home, and my host brother's classmate from his English class came to visit after my host mom jokingly mentioned to the classmate's mom that an American came to visit! They practiced their English with me while I practiced Chinese with them. While my host brother and his classmate were initially scared of embarrassing themselves with their English, they eventually opened up, and their eyes lightened each time they were able to use a phrase they learned in their English class. After an eventful day, I am ready to sleep and cannot wait for the rest of this week's events!
- Cindy W.