Winter Break

Apologies for the long delay since my last post! I’ve been pretty busy travelling for the last couple of months but I’m now safely back in Shanghai, starting up my experiments again and am incredibly happy to be here. The city feels much more like home now that I’ve been away and come back and I was surprised by how much I missed this place while I was gone.

So nice to visit St Andrews!

So nice to visit St Andrews!

I came back to the UK for a month just in time for Christmas which was so good. I was seriously craving some good British food and I can’t think of a better time to be in the UK food-wise. I pretty much ate my body weight in turkey and then again in chocolate and by God, I can’t wait to do it all over again next year! After visiting my family and friends around the country I then came back to Shanghai and was working for just over a week before the lab was shut for the Chinese New Year holiday. Initially I had planned to be in China for this period as I figured there would be lots of people around and plenty of celebrations but it turns out Shanghai (and particularly Fudan University) is surprisingly empty during this time as most people go back to their home-towns to celebrate with their families.

So instead, I booked a last minute trip to South East Asia and spent 10 days exploring Ho Chi Minh and Cambodia. I wish I could’ve stayed longer, it was so nice and sunny and it’s such a beautiful part of the world. I’ve previously spent some time travelling in Thailand so it was so nice to be back in that region. South East Asian people are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met and I would seriously advise anyone who gets the chance to visit those countries.

Sunset at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sunrise at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

I spent a week back in the lab in St Andrews while I was in the UK and it once again hit home how different the atmosphere is between the chemistry department there and the one here at Fudan. The atmosphere is a lot colder here, and I don’t just mean the lack of social interaction, I mean it’s genuinely much colder. When I first came back the temperatures outside were about -2 °C and since there is no form of heating in the lab and all the doors and windows are open that means the temperature indoors is much the same! I literally had to crack off an icicle to get into the furnace I needed. Fortunately, I do have a heater in the office so I run back there and warm up my hands as often as possible but I can’t understand how the PhD students here are expected to deal with these temperatures every year. Bring on summer!

It’s been strange to be back in the university while all of the undergraduates are away although thankfully a group of my international friends have stayed around so we’ve still been able to go out and enjoy Shanghai and (other than a run in with a very corrupt bouncer!) the last couple of weeks have been some of my best since I first came over to China in September. The smog has cleared up a lot and so, despite the cold, it’s much nicer to be outdoors and we’ve even discovered a large park with small lakes and pagodas that was hidden behind a hospital right next to the dorms. I now know where I’ll be sunbathing on my lunch breaks during the hot season!

The Chinese students are just starting to return now from the New Year’s holiday so it’ll be nice to see the university, and particularly the dorms, busy again. It’s now the Chinese year of the Horse which is supposed to signify a chance to ‘gallop ahead’ towards success, power or fame but also to be wary of fierce competition. For me, and anyone else born in 1990 (which was also a year of the Horse), this year is supposedly a time for self-reflection and to be careful of any bold decisions in your personal life as when you are at the time of your own sign the Ying-Yang opposition is no longer balanced which can lead to tense situations and pressure.

Year of the Horse decorations around the dorms!

Year of the Horse decorations around the dorms

 

新年好! (Happy New Year!)

Katie.

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