This past November, I found myself on a plane to China to participate in the PhD Workshop China 2010, a large international graduate studies exposition. This was the culmination of two months of intermittent traveling to spread the word about IQC and recruit new graduate students for IQC’s collaborative graduate program in Quantum Information.
I accompanied uWaterloo’s Associate Director of Graduate Recruitment and Admission, Ms. Jeanette Nugent. I gave a few seminars about Quantum Information and IQC at some of the top Chinese Universities (thanks to our good friend, Bei Zeng).
Of course, being my first time in China, I figured a 13-hour flight and 12-hour jetlag would deserve at least 3 days to recover: perfect time to take some of my postponed summer holidays and visit the sites in China.
Nov. 19: On the plane to China. I have a whole row to myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to snooze somewhat “comfortably.”
Nov 20: Beijing. I arrive at the hotel around 18:30 and surprisingly I’m not too tired. Armed with an unreadable map and a few yuans, I venture into the urban jungle. First stop, Wangfujing. It becomes apparent that the once very traditional looking Beijing has been replaced with flashy neons! I head to the Donghuamen Night Market, an endless array of street vendors for all tastes: beef on a skewer, dumplings, skewered star fish, scorpion and sea horse. My dinner: dumplings, ridiculously hot noodles, fried snake and grilled octopus. Yummm!
Nov. 21: It’s freezing cold, but I only have three days to be a tourist: Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, The Bell Tower — a busy day of sights. I got lost in hutongs (labyrinth-like alleyways). This six hour walk brings me and my frozen feet to the Houhai nightlife district. Within a few paces of each other I can see a hip-hop bar, a metal bar and a country bar. It is complete cacophony outside!
Nov. 22: The famous Silk Market. You can buy anything from tailored suits to knockoff designer bags, tea, toys, golf clubs… as long as you are willing to be pulled at from each side, bullied, cornered in a stall and called names. Someone called me cheap. Hey, I’ve been called worse!
Nov. 23: The Great Wall! Truly a wonder of the world. Afterward, I decide to “sample” the famous Dadong Peking Duck. Since I am quite hungry, I also try a roasted pigeon. Little that I know, I received the entire duck and later stumbled back to my hotel in a food coma.
Nov. 24: Tourist time over; time to work. I deliver a seminar to about 60 potential students from Beijing Normal University and Beijing University of Post and Telecommunication. It’s easy to brag about quantum information and IQC! In the evening I have dinner with some Canadian delegates and the Canadian trade commissioner.
Nov. 25: PhDChina, a big international grad expo, kicks off. The Dean of Graduate Studies at the prominent Tsinghua University is impressed with IQC! Later, the Canadian Embassy held a roundtable for 30 Chinese universities and the embassies of Japan and Korea. Lots of good networking!
Nov. 26: Meeting with China Scholarship Council. A great partnership with uWaterloo: if CSC provides a living stipend to a potential Waterloo student, then the university waives tuition. Excellent recruitment idea.
Nov. 27- 28: The PhDChina event. I share the tiny table with Jeanette and Prof. Lei Xu of uWaterloo Civil Engineering, who just happens to be in China at the time. More than 1,200 students come to the event and it feels like they all visit our table. Waterloo has clout!
Nov. 29: Following PhDChina, I head to Tsinghua University to give a presentation. Pekin University students are also invited. Prof. Gui Lu Long has a strong team working in quantum information, NMR, optics and communication. They put me to work on their NMR spectrometer! Ah, Ph.D. memories!
Nov. 30: Heading home, armed with CVs from some awesome potential IQC students, new connections and… 10 extra pounds!
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