Although I'm pumped for the voyage to the East, I'm still in a state of disbelief. It has yet to sink in that I'm flying to China tomorrow afternoon. It will probably hit me when I'm en route to Tokyo (the stopover before Beijing).
All in all, I'm looking forward to being in a completely different setting and getting the chance to meet people across the globe and work in the labs there.
For quite some time, however, I was worried about our visas. It took until the very last minute, and after a lot of work by many dedicated people, to obtain them. I haven't had time to think about what my worries will be in China because for a while I was very unsure of if I would end up getting there. At the end of the day, I'm afraid I'm going to insult the natives while butchering their language.
Nevertheless, I found it puzzling that the international REU programs aren't as popular as their domestic counterparts. Perhaps a certain type of candidate opt for these international programs. For me, the kicker was killing two birds with one stone. On one hand, I wanted to do chemistry research, and on the other I wanted to continue my Chinese studies.
When I arrived in Michigan I was pleased to meet my fellow students of chemistry. Everyone seemed to get along well from the get-go. I'm glad the pre-program period lasted about 5 days. Some of the group discussion activities to facilitate group work were drawn out and continually beat a dead horse, but otherwise all was well. Simply having time to get to know one another was probably the most effective aspect of this period.
At any rate, see you in Beijing!