Jump to content
Powered by
Guest article

First-hand experience at the Chinese Academy of Science in Shanghai

A grant from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts enabled Judit Maur to spend three months as part of a research group at the Chinese Academy of Science in Shanghai. During this period, she worked on the synthesis of a new metabolic pathway for the production of mandelic acid.

Judit Maur’s workplace at the Chinese Academy of Science in Shanghai © Judit Maur

“My Chinese colleagues kindly met me when I arrived at the institute. Although the laboratory and the offices were completely different from what I had been used to up until then, I found my way around relatively quickly. The laboratory equipment was sometimes not up to the German standards that I was used to. However, the most important devices were extremely modern and of a high quality (PCR cyclers, pipettes, etc.). Whenever I had any questions, I could ask anybody in the laboratory and was given immediate assistance. Language difficulties meant that conversation was not always easy, but my Chinese colleagues did their best to answer any questions I had. 

When I arrived in Shanghai, I could not speak any Chinese, which made communication often really difficult. I was lucky to meet a lady in the laboratory who was also willing to help me in personal matters. With her help, I was able to communicate with the staff in the student dormitory where I lived in and buy a season ticket for the underground, amongst other things. It would certainly have been much easier if I had known some Chinese. On the other hand, foreigners with no knowledge of the local language can get around pretty well in Shanghai as all street signs are in English and underground signs are also bilingual.

The working atmosphere among students and doctoral students was very pleasant. We used to socialise together, and do things like go out for dinner, go to karaoke or to the cinema. However, I found it quite difficult to get used to my colleagues’ working hours. Most of them spent a lot of time in the office and the laboratory. I tried to stick to my European working hours, something that the laboratory managers accepted. At first, I got the feeling that I was working far less than my Chinese colleagues who would stay in the laboratory until late at night. However, during our weekly meetings I soon realised that my well-organised and targeted working style made up for the difference.

Overall, I had a great time in Shanghai, which had quite a lot to do with the overall feel of the city. Shanghai is absolutely huge and has a lot to offer. I did something every weekend and was never bored. I met lots of other foreigners with whom I could share thoughts and experiences. In addition to the large number of pubs, bars and restaurants, Shanghai has a huge number of museums and parks to visit. This is where you can experience the Chinese culture particularly intensely. China is definitely completely “different”. Not only do the cities look completely different, from mid-June onwards you are permanently sweating. Chinese culture is also very different from ours. However, broad-minded people who enjoy meeting others will get along very well. I can wholeheartedly recommend participating in the programme and will definitely remember my Chinese adventure for a long time.”

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/news/first-hand-experience-at-the-chinese-academy-of-science-in-shanghai