Life of a Dutchie

It's all about me, what I'm doing, where I'm going, what I'm thinking, what I shouldn't be thinking…

My first work week

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For some reason I can’t upload photos to my blog at the moment. I’m already glad I found a way to upload my blog text. Hope I can add the photos soon! For now I added the links to the photos, so you can still see them. It’s no clickable link, ’cause that doesn’t work either…


Normal workday, nothing special to mention. This evening was the first time I had dinner on my own. I was going to try some of the other dumplings on the menu in the place we were on the weekend. Lu wrote down “I want to take them home” in Chinese for me. That way I only had to point to the things I wanted and show them the note and I would be all fine. I really love the Pleco app on my phone where I can look up Chinese words and that helped me finding out what was on the menu. Otherwise I just would have taken some things, because I already knew what the main ingredient was for each one (egg, pork or beef). I’m happier with my smartphone now than I’ve been before, even though I’m still not online here. You’ve gotta love technology.


Wednesday 5 December

Sinterklaas, didn’t miss it for a second!

Today I finally met the other foreign person in the building, the Canadian guy named Daniel. My professor was hoping he could help me out a bit with settling here and that he maybe knew something about the international student association at campus etc. Well, he can’t. Not that he doesn’t want to, he simply can’t. He’s been here for 2 years know and all he does is work. So he doesn’t know any Chinese, he doesn’t know how to get things done; he can go from home to work and vice versa and eat at the campus. That’s pretty much it. Ah well, it was worth a shot. Just got a phone number of someone that supposed to be in that international student association or at least know something more about it, so let’s try that soon.

The Canadian guy did tell me stories about how people would say “Helloooooo” to him when they pass by on the street or in the shop. At least once a week. Apparently the Chinese like it to say the one English word they all know to people that are obviously not from here. I haven’t had that experience yet, but hey, I’ve not even been here for a week now, so chances are that will come. And indeed, when I went to the supermarket that evening it happened to me four times. Four times! Also the kids that are staring at you as if you’re an alien. I think I should work on my crazy faces…

Duck for lunch!:

I don’t think my professor is really a backer for power naps at work, but he is all for having a private life. I think I can manage that! (Love his European attitude after 8 years of Switzerland) But the expectations he has for me to reach during working hours are pretty high. He expects me to come up with new ideas, new insights in what might cause Alzheimer’s disease because of my genomic background (the bigger picture). But he says it’s no pressure. I do have time to figure things out.

By now I’m getting adjusted to most things here, the food, the toilets, the traffic. But not to the spitting, that’s still so gross! It’s really the minority that does it. Just like making noise while eating, it’s really not that bad. And that’s coming from me! But the spitting, blegh. Especially the men, they prepare loudly for it and then spit, everywhere. About the eating, like I said, it’s not so bad. Unlike people in Holland that make noise when eating and leaving their mouths hanging open while chewing, here it’s more functional. If you eat noodle soup, well, you will make a bit of noise when trying to get it in your mouth. Also when eating the dumplings with some soup inside, you’ll first have to slurp out the soup before you can eat the dumpling. And again, it’s mainly the guys, and especially the men, that make the noises. According to Lu it also depends a lot on how you were raised. The one thing I still find fascinating is how they can eat the pork, chicken and fish with bones still in there and only spit out the bones. I can’t do that! I really need to use my fingers for help, otherwise I will choke in them! I need to learn that too, it’s an amazing skill.

Trying out the Chinese rice wine. Tastes like sherry.:


I’m jealous at the students here! They do share a large room and have much smaller desks, but at least they apparently all agree on putting the air-conditioning on warm and leaving the windows closed. Why do I have office mates that insist on open windows and shut-off air-conditioning? I’m freezing my fingers and legs of over here! I know, I should discuss it with them, but I tried a bit already in the beginning of the week, which went well for about 1 day. So I have to try again (but I don’t want to be rude), cause I really need the blood in my brain so I can think!

Today was my first group meeting here. And the first time for my new colleagues to do it in English. Every other week you give a presentation about what you have been doing, so everybody will keep up and it will become clear if you haven’t done enough (oeps). I think they all did pretty great for the first time, but they were really scared to do it. I also heard tonight that especially the guys are a bit too shy and too scared to go to lunch or dinner with me, because they don’t know what to say in English. I also really need to practice on my understanding of Chenglish, so hopefully we will understand each other much better soon.


The last day of my first work week here in Shanghai. Finally I didn’t freeze my but off in my office! I just closed the windows every time they were open and nobody complained. Let’s see if we can keep this up. This afternoon I had some meetings, so work has officially started. Met someone from another department, he was very nice and his English was pretty good. I also prepared an order with one of our PhD students; that was more like a challenge. He started out great by explaining everything very clearly, but in the end he made some mistakes while not noticing, and that took some time to become clear (I thought I was going crazy). I really hope that nowadays Chinese people respond better to making mistakes than they’re used to…

Wonton soup for lunch:

My first work week here is done, it’s Friday night, I’m tired and alone in my room. But I don’t mind! I finally have normal wifi here (victory!!), so I can use Whatsapp again, and both me and my roommate can use the internet now (apparently she couldn’t use it last few days, and she didn’t even tell me). While I’m updating everything, I’m enjoying the Chinese beers from the supermarket. Well, enjoying… Most are just fine, simple beers, nothing wrong with those, but the third one went straight into the sink. Which crazy ass *censured* puts coffee in beer?!? Yuk. Thankfully I had one beer left, a snow beer, the only snow I’ve seen so far, thankfully.

Trying out beers:

I have the feeling that I forget half what I wanted to write all the time, but you can be sure, when I remember, I will write it! I will go to the city center tomorrow. I was planning to go by myself, but my roommate wants to visit her sister who lives there and they will take me to a good place for lunch, so that’s very nice too. Will let you know how that was! I really hope the weather will be the same as it was today, because it was soooo lovely! I know there is snow in Europe, but it was almost like spring here today. Couldn’t enjoy it much because of work of course, but the moments that I was outside I felt like a cat, purring in the sun…


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