My journey to China begins in May 2015, when for the first time I came to the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as a Postdoctoral Fellow, as part of the CAS-PIFI program. I landed in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, on May 28, 2015, full of fears but determined to overcome all the challenges. Contrary to my expectations, living in China with only limited knowledge of the Chinese language was fairly possible.
It took me no time to get familiar with the excellently developed transport system, to roam about, to do the shopping and to complete other everyday procedures using some amazing local apps. I started feeling independent in a relatively short time. You can manage your life with an elementary knowledge of the Mandarin language. However, language proficiency gives you a clear edge and can unknot many obstacles. Communication is a skill but it is an art when it comes to China. Once you have mastered this skill, many new things become available. Nevertheless, among young Chinese people, many are happy to communicate in the English language.
Chinese culture is not only different but multilayered and hence extremely interesting. The more time you spend in China, the easier you feel in running your life here and get a homely feeling. Initially, you feel that the Chinese people are introverted, but once you get deeper into the culture you find them friendly and helpful. I love to chat with local friends over many rounds of traditional Chinese tea. red tea, white tea, green tea, fruit tea... the list goes on. Chinese people are fond of physical activities, and I have made many friends during hiking trips with different hiking groups. It is delightful to see elderly people joyfully dancing in the evening to different songs.
One remarkable impression I got here is of a secure environment. Occasionally I stayed in the lab until very late at night performing long experiments. After finishing a long day, I never felt afraid to go back home. I just call a taxi through an app and get back home. China is way ahead in e-commerce compared to many developed countries, as it is in other online services. Your online shopping can range from gadgets to fresh fruit and vegetables. This made my life super easy, especially during the pandemic.
Over the last five years, I witnessed the growth of China particularly in science and technology. Fully equipped labs and large research funds provided an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research. I also got the chance to attend international conferences in the field. At my working unit, everyone was welcoming. I was the first CAS-PIFI candidate who joined this institute. Later, many other Asian and European people joined; some completed their work and some are still working. This welcoming and supportive attitude lured me to spend a longer time than initially planned. My professional growth outcomes can be seen in the form of different research articles and review articles. My Chinese colleagues are always happy to help in administrative matters as well as for research grants and other work-related issues.
The city I am based in is Guangzhou, located in the extreme south of China. It has nice restaurants with versatile cuisines, huge shopping malls, scenic hiking places, and one amazing aspect is the moderate temperature almost the whole year. In addition to workplace colleagues, I made several friends through hiking trips, language exchanges, and social media. I can confidently state that China has become like my second home. I would love to collaborate with different people in the future and would recommend that others have this amazing experience of living and working in China.
52 Sanlihe Rd., Beijing,