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Shanghai – a city that never sleeps

Between September 2012 to February 2013, I spent six months of practical training in Prof. Weihong Jiang’s group at the Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. A grant from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts enabled me not only to gain valuable practical experience, but also gave me an in-depth view into Chinese culture and life in Shanghai.

Ewelina Michta with her laboratory colleagues

I am a doctoral student at the University of Tübingen and wanted to intensify the cooperation between our group and Prof. Jiang’s group in Shanghai as well as continue with my PhD project. My thesis is focused on the regulatory function of the Streptomyces viridochromogenes enzyme aconitase, which plays a key role in the regulation of antibiotics production. My work in a research laboratory as well as in a biotechnology company in China provided me with detailed insights into scientific work in China. 

When I arrived in Shanghai, my Chinese colleagues kindly met me and helped me get organised. They really helped to make my life in China very comfortable. They assisted me with finding a flat, explained to me how public transport worked and where I could find fantastic Chinese restaurants. 

Life in Shanghai

As my flat was not centrally located, I did not have much contact with other foreigners and Western culture. Instead, I had wonderful opportunities to experience Chinese culture and regional traditions with my Chinese neighbours. Of course, life in Shanghai is also very modern. The streets, shopping malls, buildings, museums etc. are more interesting, more convenient and cleaner than in many Western European cities. Moreover, Shanghai is a city that never sleeps! There are many places you must see while in Shanghai. I especially liked the People’s Square and the beautiful Pu Don District. 

Work in Shanghai

Shanghai at night. © Ewelina Michta

The scientific laboratories where I worked are a bit more chaotic than in Germany, but the quality of work is just as high. Everyone was very friendly, helpful and spoke English well. Many students work until late at night and at weekends. Equipment and basic methods of work in microbiology laboratories are similar to those in Germany. Nevertheless, people’s mentality and the way they work often reminded me of the time before the economic revolution.

These six months in China expanded my professional and personal horizons. I learned a lot and had a great time. Although it was not easy at first, I had some great experiences. I can wholeheartedly recommend spending a few months doing practical training in Shanghai and would like to thank Prof. Weihong Jiang and Prof. Rolf Schmid for making this unforgettable experience possible. 

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