Picture 1: The super nice Wang XianPing and me.
Picture 2: A very poorly taken picture of Fuzimiao. It's so much prettier in real life!
This morning I was finally able to sleep in, as the night before my host mom told me and my host sister we weren't leaving for work until after lunch today. After folding up my laundry from the night before – I'm a genius for hanging my underwear up to dry by a window, by the way – my host sister, Li Yue, and I set out to find some breakfast and complete a few errands. Our first stop was a coffee shop/bakery called 85 Degrees or something like that, where they have a buy a pastry and get a coffee type of deal before 10 am. I definitely made a mental note to come back to this chain of bakeries for breakfast in Shanghai.
After finishing our errands, we met up with my host mom, ate lunch, and made our way to work. When I finally made it to my lab, my coworkers exclaimed with surprise that I had come in today. Keeping on with that genius theme, I had forgotten to WeChat someone to let them know I would be late. During my last day at the lab, I was able to again observe the general day-to-day of the lab. I brought in some American candies – Werther's Originals and Jolly Ranchers, to be exact – for everyone to eat, and I was happy to see that the Jolly Ranchers especially were getting lots of attention. Someone else brought in a watermelon and cut it up on the desk next to mine (not for any special occasion, I have a feeling this just happens frequently here) and we all shared that too. Plus, a grad student bought me an ice cream after showing me where the makeshift vending machine/fridge was on the 6th floor.
When it was getting closer to leaving time, Wang XianPing, a graduate student who was especially nice and willing to show me what he does every day, came to where I was sitting to say bye. It was kind of sad, but we had already exchanged WeChat ID's so I can send him pictures of… I don't know… American fruit flies or something. He handed me a book, told me it was a gift, and explained that it was a Bible written in Chinese. It's the one he keeps at work and he wanted to give it to me because maybe I would want to look at a Chinese one and read it. Even though I'm an illiterate atheist, the thought was so sweet that it really did make my day (although I don't know how I'm going to go about reading it). This will definitely be a very interesting and very touching souvenir of this trip! I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to many others as they were eating dinner in the cafeteria, but there was plenty of candy left so hopefully they will be able to infer my thanks and appreciation through the sweets. I wish I had had more time to learn skills and really participate in this lab. One thing though – Wang XianPing showed me the flies that I had transferred into a new vial yesterday, and they had already laid a bunch of eggs. Babies are on the way!
This evening my host family decided to do one last touristy thing with me and take me to Fuzimiao (I think that might kind of be close to how it's spelled), or Confucius Temple. It's where, a very long time ago, young adults would take the official exam based on Confucian principles. I was expecting a much more serene place than I found, but the architecture of the buildings and light-up dragons and boats made the area still very scenic and beautiful. It was absolutely definitely a tourist trap, though. We were all pretty tired, so we walked around the area, took a few pictures, and drove back home. Now I have to pack and finish my papers before Shanghai tomorrow! I exchanged money today, so I expect to be super touristy and shop on Saturday and Sunday, when we have free time. Yay! Saying goodbye to my host family will be hard, but my host sister goes to school in Pittsburgh so I can probably get her to visit me in Boston soon!
- Alice G.