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Adriana Garcia :: Blog

August 19, 2009

I have been back in Florida for a week now and I can tell you I'm still a bit jetlagged. My last week in China without my computer was spent trying to configure the applications and recovered code in the computer they lent me. I made some progress but not as much as I originally had planned. Anyway, things are looking up in that area. As soon as I came back to FL I mailed my laptop and made it just in time for the warranty to cover the repairs. I got it back today Laughing.

My last day of work in the lab was a bit sad. I was really sad to say goodbye to Yong Hou and Junwei Li. They both helped me so much and I consider them great friends. I wish them both the best in their endeavours and maybe one day in the near future we can meet again, this time in the US.

I was also very sad to say goodbye to Shadow, my Chinese tutor. I hope your dream of seeing America will come true one day sweety! You have a friend here already.

The weekend obviously was spent shopping but I couldn't miss out on the Lama temple and the Temple of Earth, topped by a litte visit to Wangfujing's food street. I cannot tell you tired I am after all this, my feet still hurt, even a week later.

The Lama Temple. If you decide to go you can see a Buddha 18m high! (sorry, no photos allowed there)

The temple of Earth is actually pretty similar to the temple of Heaven: "Heaven is round and the Earth is square". The park there is actually quite beautiful and peaceful. Definitely a good place to rest.

Wangfujing's Food Street. A definite must see. If you decide to have dinner there, that's up to you!!! Surprised

In summary, my trip to China was a  wonderful experience. I learned so much about people and culture, I made progress with my research and learned about other universities and ways of life. I ate things I'd never eaten and I made wonderful friends. This will be an experience I will never forget.

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August 04, 2009

My blog this week comes a little late, because.... you guessed it! My computer broke for real this time. Excuse me if I don't post any pictures this time, but I have no where to connect my camera. I'll add some when I get home....

The week started out normally, work going on as usual. I am a little behind with my research, but I also added new tasks to the timeline so I believe this was to be expected.

By Friday however, my laptop started to act out once more: it would not power on. I was lucky that in the end it started and I was able to backup some of my data in a computer at the lab. Saturday... the laptop died completely. My warranty expires August 15th, I hope get to turn it in on time when we return to the US (we're scheduled to leave August 10th, that's next Monday). I really wish they can do something about it because we're not dealing with the adapter this time. Taking it to the service center here in China for more than just diagnosis will void the warranty and will have to come out of my own pocket. I think the hardware problem is really bad this time so it won't come cheap. I'm very lucky though because I was able to borrow a computer at the lab (this is why you can find me actually blogging today). I think the owner will faint when he comes back from his vacation and finds all the data and programs I've needed to install to try to continue with my work.Tongue out.

Junwei Li was very helpful with all my problems and has really been great to me. I really appreciate all he has done for me. He let me take apart his external HD and I was able to copy all my stuff out of my dead laptop. It is amazing how sometimes you find the right person to help you with exactly what you need at exactly the right time. I consider myself very lucky.

Well, besides all my electronics acting out, last weekend I had a lot of fun. I went with Jake and Scott and Jake's colleague Liu to Xidan market. It was huge and they had a very different selection than the other markets we've been so far. I didn't buy anything but I had a great time.

On Sunday the four of us went to Tianjin. The city is 25 minutes away by high speed train. I had a blast riding on that train (speed = 330km/h) and Tianjin is beautiful. The city is growing fast, you'll see a lot of modern buildings under construction, and is well known for its great food. We were able to try the steamed buns there, for which the city is famous, and we went into all the candy stores on the food street trying candy and nuts. I got some samples for you if you want to try Laughing.

This week, I've spent trying to setup my work environment once more, and hopefully by the end of the week I will have done some progress.

Last night Scott and I went to the Egg (Center for the Performing Arts) for a concert. Chinese overseas musicians played classical pieces for around 2 hours. It was absolutely beautiful and I enjoyed it a lot. I hope you get a chance to go there if you ever come to Bejing. Not only the music was great, but the place is just amazing.

This is it for now. My plans for next weekend pretty much involve packing and other farewell activities... I'll see you in the US soon!



Finally here are the pictures:

The high speed train, Tianjin and our hosts there

The food street, goubuli and typical candy 

Keywords: Site-seeing

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July 26, 2009

This week was different than the others because it was cooler. It was a nice change of pace and even though it rained a lot, the cooler temperature was actually really nice (nicer to ride the bike to work, etc)

I've been working a lot in the lab to make up for the lost time while I was having Internet/computer problems. I'm afraid the unplanned steps added to the project (web service development related to a particular application) have permanently delayed the timeline proposed at the beginning of the trip. Before my return to Florida  I expect to have prioritized and finished the grid computing related part of the project in order to  be able to leverage Tsinghua's area of expertise as much as possible.

During my stay here in China, Thinn New Soe undergraduate student from the University of South California, has also been invovled in the project, aligning her's with ours by perparing the environment setup and exploring Mobile application development. The collaboration with her has been very nice and we get along pretty well.

Wednesday, we were able to experience the total solar eclipse here in Asia. This was a unique experience: Listening to the birds singing like at sunset, the bugs go quiet and the strange darkness. Too bad it was actually very cloudy and not much could be seen.

During the weekend it was time to rest. We visited Chairman Mao's Memorial Hall in Tiananmen Square and were able to see his body  in his glass coffin (clearly no picture taking is allowed). We also visited the Center for the Performing arts and got tickets for a show next week.

In the afternoon I joined Thinn for a visit to the Wudaokou Market, which is actually quite close to the university. It specializes in clothes and it is student, not tourist oriented so better prices are available than in the famous Silk Market.  In China clothes are VERY affordable (10 dollar jeans, 3 dollar t-shirts...Laughing) and very different: I've loved the women's dresses from the moment I arrived. Women dress so much more feminine than in the West! You can find not only dresses, but hats (yes people still wear them here), high heels, purses, etc. If you have a chance to come to China, buying clothes is definitely something that you might consider worth doing.

On Sunday, Scott, Jake, Thinn and I joined our Chinese tutor and her best friend for a tour of Houhai and the hutongs there (small and narrow traditional streets with houses that typically also have small interior courtyards) Here are some pictures. Ahh! Memories!




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July 19, 2009

This week we received  a visit Dr. Huang, my advisor from FAU! I was very happy to see her. We all prepared a presentation explaining the status of our project and met with her one on one, to discuss the next steps to follow. This was pretty great.

Our international collaborators and Dr. Huang:

With Dr. Huang we paid a visit to Beihang University. This University was wonderful, we had a chance to discuss our projects with them and hopefully they'll join the PIRE program soon.

Some pictures of Beihang University. The campus is beautiful and the buildings impressive!

On Saturday we visited the Forbidden City. It was a very hot day and pretty crowded but wonderful. When you visit I recommend you go the North Gate and enter the City there. The crowds in the South are amazing. It took us almost an hour to get tickets.

A sea of umbrellas: In China having an umbrella is really a must (rain or sun)

The Forbidden City, some not so crowded views:

And some of the things whe saw in there: A mountain of Jade ... y un pesebre!!!! (tal vez no Wink

To finish it off we went to Jingshan Park. This park is so peaceful after the Forbidden City. We got a chance to see the place where the Emperor hung himself. It was a bit strange that the place was advertised like that. I decided not to post the picture in the end... The view of the Forbidden City from the top, was definitely worth the climb up the stairs though:

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July 12, 2009

My computer broke this week! For a Computer Engineering student researching away from home this is basically a disaster. Cut off from the world since Wednesday I was not as productive this week. It turns out that the AC adapter burned. With the help of my colleagues at the lab I was able to get a new one, only to find that the computer would not charge connected to new one either! With the last battery breath I was able to copy some information to an external hard disk but most of the configuration tasks scheduled for this week were replaced with readings. Finally, a Friday trip to HP's service center solved the problem. By the way, it is important to go there with someone who can translate for you ;) and if you have your PC's warranty...don't bother because it is only valid in the US so bring extra $$$!

The end of the week was happy, because my computer was fixed :) Ready for the weekend Jake, Scott and I took a tour of the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall on Saturday. It was recommended by the students from USC who are researching in Tsinghua too!
The tour was great, we met Carla, who works at Google and was the fourth person on the tour. We had a blast: the cable-car/ski-lift that took us to the top was fun and the toboggan to go down was even better. The Great Wall was absolutely beautiful and we also got to visit a Jade factory and a Chinese tea house. Here some pictures:

At the Jade factory they make the Family balls (3 jade balls, one inside the other that signify family unity and three generations)

At the Ming Tombs with Wendy, our tour guide: 

The "cable-car"

Looking at the toboggan from the cable-car!

The Great Wall

Carla, Scott, Jake and me at the tea house:

Afterwards we tried the famous duck for dinner and took a look at Tiananmen Square :).

Sunday was just rainy. I slept in and I'm trying to recover some of the lost time now.  Dr. Huang arrived to Benijing this weekend and she's expecting to get an update next week. Wish me luck!

Keywords: Site-seeing

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July 05, 2009

This week was a hard week regarding work. I have been working very hard, but it seems like I'm still a bit behind on the timeline. Next week I'll double the effort, but for now, this weekend I tried to relax a bit: Michael and I stayed in Beijing while Jake and Scott went to Xian. Beijing is a great place, I definitely can say that there are so many contrasts! On Saturday we went to the Silk Market and a clothing market. You can get so many things here so cheap! On Sunday I went to Wangfujing street. Amazing! Rolex, Gucci, BMW and souvenir shops all  the same place. I had a green tea ice cream that actually tasted like tea and went into every store I could. In some, I may have been the only foreigner on the whole 6-8 levels (Every store ends up having multiple levels, always at least 4). Books, clothing, candy, jewelry whatever! What an experience. Here some impressions:

I wonder if she stands 12 hours on those shoes.... 

One thing that really caught my eye were these embroideries. How about it? This is just one of the simpler ones, they can become so much more complex and expensive!

I also went to Beijing's ancient observatory. It was a nice place to go to on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Actually, this place was build around the 1400s (around the same time as the Forbidden City) and operated for 500 years! Take a look at some of the pictures Wink

Keywords: Site seeing

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June 28, 2009

This week was actually a bit difficult as far as work goes. We had many problems with the Internet, and acessing overseas sites in order to do work was impossible for most of it. Thankfully, by the end of it everything seems to be resolved and we've found ways to either solve or work around the problems.
I went to lunch with my colleagues twice this week: We went to a Brazilian BBQ which was very nice in honor of Fan Zhang's departure to his internship. Friday we went to another restaurant in honor of the visit of Dr. Lican Huang (Director of the Institute of Networking and Distributed Computing of the Zhejiang Sci-Tech University) and Mr. Wang's departure for MIT this summer. Here's some pictures of the event:

On Friday I met Thinn, a new student from Burma coming to work in the lab from the University of South California. She'll be staying with us for 6 weeks and hopefully she will be able to work with me on some of my project related ideas. She is actually an undergraduate Biomedical major and the details of her project will be better defined next week.

During the weekend we continued our sight-seeing as usual. On Saturday we went to the Summer Palace which was beautiful. It was a great day for it because it wasn't as sunny, but it was still very hot. This is a beautiful place and even though we walked a lot, I didn't really feel it. The scenery was great and the lake was absolutely beautiful. I'm happy we had a chance to enjoy it like we did.

On Sunday (today), we took it a bit slower. I'm glad about that because since Friday I seem to be feeling a bit down. Apparently I've caught a cold. We went to Beijing's Planetarium. The architecture of the place is really, really interesting. Take a look by yourselves!

There we saw a 3D, a 4D and an SGI movie. Every one was a fun experience: the 3D one had movement, the 4D water and blew air on your face, and the SGI was just plain beautiful, how the space was projected from 6 different projectors on a vaulted (half a sphere) ceiling. The experience was really great, but I'm afraid we may have missed a lot since all dialog was in Chinese and no subtitles were available.

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June 21, 2009

This week was actually a very interesting week. On Monday, Michael arrived which was a great: Now the PIRE China group is complete!

On Tuesday, I was invited to lunch with the research group in honor of Professor Hwang (http://gridsec.usc.edu/Hwang.html). I did my best to comply with Chinese etiquette, I hope I didn't make many mistakes Embarassed. The restaurant was beautiful and the food delicious.  I wish I had brought my camera because it was a great photo opportunity.

The rest of the week I focused on my research, filling in background requirements. On Friday, I met Shadow, Lina Ortega's Mandarin tutor from last year's PIRE. Shadow is a really nice person and I hope to start taking some lessons with her as of next week. I'm looking forward to learning a new language. Laughing
Saturday was a wonderful day: Jake, Scott and I all went to the Beijing Zoo and the Aquarium. It was great because we successfully took the subway and the bus there. The Zoo is beautiful and we got to see 10 different Panda bears. I loved the Zoo. The Aquarium is huge and we saw a dolphin show. The stage for the dolphin pool is actually indoors and very impressive. It was a long day, but worth every step.

Today we went to the the Temple of Heaven. Jake, Mike and I were there all day, walking around and taking pictures. I loved how the park is a place were the elderly get together for group activities, dancing, exercising and playing. It was such a nice surprise to find that besides the tourist attractions!
These are some pictures of our day, now I'm off to bed because I can say that now I am OFFICIALLY tired.

Happy father's day to all!

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June 14, 2009

Friday was the meeting with the group. I did a small presentation showing my background and my work, and my Chinese hosts explained everything about the lab and what it is about. I was very sorry I forgot my camera to take pictures. The meeting was informal and I'm very excited about what they do here. I wish I can collaborate beyond my personal research!!
On Saturday Yong Hou, a colleage from the lab invited us hiking. It was a hike through a very difficult, steep trail, but as you can see from the scenery, absolutely beautiful and worth every step of the way. Our new friends are wonderful people for inviting us to such a beatiful place :)... Also I owe Scott a big "Thank you" since he helped me through some of the most diffucult parts!


On Sunday we went to Stadium (the Bird's Nest) and the Aquatic Center but we planned to go inside some other day:  We had to meet Jane (Scott's friend) at her University (UIBE). She was so kind, a really nice person. She gave us a tour of her university and then we went out to dinner. Here the pictures of the event!



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June 11, 2009

At work I had my first meeting with Dr. Cao and PhD student Fang Zhang. We talked about my research and how things will come together. They have so many research paths here, so many things I'd love to be involved in as well... Anyway, tomorrow I will do a presentation for the group's meeting, introducing myself and my work. I'll tell you how it goes on my next blog entry. Wish me luck!

In the evening we met with a friend of Scott's and her boyfriend. We all had dinner and it was, as usual, wonderful. The food is great and the people really, really nice. They explained to us how to take the subway and the bus to go to different tourist attractions over the weekend. In the picture you see Scott and Jake and our Chinese hosts in by one of the Tsinghua University entrances.

PS: My whole body aches from riding the bike everywhere, but I'm saving a bunch on spinning lessons Wink

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