Author Archives: nmorr3

Our Last Day

Our last full day in Shanghai was amazing and I feel so lucky to have had this experience. We toured around the city and were able to take an elevator up to the second round ball of the Pearl tower. The view was unbelievable and there was an even an entire floor made out of glass so that we could see the ground beneath us. Kind of like the sky deck in the Sears Tower in Chicago except much bigger and better. We traveled up 263 meters of the 467 meter high structure. Following that were a couple tours around the area and of course shopping. I luckily did all my shopping earlier that week so I was able to just relax and sight-see. The area was beautiful but very crowded. Shanghai is a lot more populous that Hangzhou. The city has around 25 million people living there! We ended our day with an acrobat show that was exciting to see. My favorite part of the entire performances was the end where eight motorcyclists rode inside of a large metal ball. It was exhilarating and dangerous. The long day was tiring so I went to bed soon after arriving back at the hotel. This morning we woke up, packed our things into the bus and headed for the airport. As I type this now, I am sitting at our terminal waiting to board the plane. I’ll miss you China but I sure am excited to be back home again.

Closing Ceremony

On our last day at the Wanxiang University, we spent our time together in classes during the day and celebrating at night. In the afternoon we gathered around to plant a tree from all three universities of Illinois. It was definitely a moment that represented togetherness as we all took turns shoveling dirt onto the roots. Later than night our closing ceremony was filled with laughter and tears. We all sat at round tables in a banquet hall, on the second floor of our hotel. One of the Chinese student ambassadors, Mumu put together a video clip of our time here at Wanxiang University. The video was so sweet and made me tear up at the memories I have made here. We played a few games and put on performances for the students. In our Chinese language class we were taught a song that we sang in front of everyone for the closing ceremony. I will truly miss all the friend I’ve made at the University and hope to keep in touch with them after I return to the states.

I Made a Battery!

Today began bright and early at 7:50am sharp. Our group loaded onto the bus to take another trip to the Wanxiang Precision Industry to take a look at how they manufacture Lithium Ion Phosphate cell battery systems. I was very happy to be in a lab again, it’s been a couple months. When we were being introduced to the production of the coin cell, they asked if any students would like to try making one on their own. I instantly volunteered as I was excited to do some lab work and learn something new. The assembling process took place inside of a glass box with gloves attached to it (called a glove box). After slipping my arms into the gloves, I was able to assemble the coin cell battery inside. It was a little confusing as I was the first one to go, but it felt natural touching a pipette again. We were able to keep the coin cells we made, I can’t wait to test it out once I get home and see if it works. Later in the afternoon we toured more of the electrode workshop and the entire manufacturing process. It was very interesting and I felt I learned a lot today. We were running a little behind schedule so the day felt extra-long and I’m excited to relax in my room. We only have a couple more days left here at the Wanxiang campus and then we head to Shanghai!

The Rare Sight of a Clear Sky

On my way home from the spa on Sunday, I looked out from the taxi window and noticed the large full moon above. To my surprise, there were a couple stars that were visible in the sky! This is a rare occurrence in China due to the heavy light pollution. I half expected this because when I had woken up that morning, I noticed the sky was the clearest it had been since I arrived a few weeks ago. The sun was shining bright in the blue sky with just a few clouds, visible. It reminded me of the sky at home! Sadly, today was the usual cloudiness. Every day is usually the same so it is rather noticeable when the sky is clearer out. As we drove to the Wanxiang Precision Industry, I gazed out the window and noticed the smoggy film blocking my view to what would be mountains in the distance. I wonder what this view would have looked like if I took the same route on Sunday, when the skies were clear.

China Adventures

I went exploring this weekend, some of it was on my own and some with a couple of friends. On Saturday, I visited the mall with a couple of friends and we went our separate ways to do some shopping. I noticed that as I went into some of the higher end stores, the employees seemed to follow close behind and bother with their sales pitch. I felt a pat on my back and turned around to see a store worker holding a nice blouse in her hand. She was motioning me to admire it and potentially purchase the item. I felt uncomfortable as I did not want to buy it and felt the heat of her presence while I was trying to view other items. I decided it was best to avoid the small boutiques and head right into the other larger stores, where the employees did not seem to care whether you bought something or not. Near the center of the mall I saw a large runway surrounded by curtains, music, and stuffed animals. It was a fashion show with models dressed in traditional looking Chinese dresses. Their makeup and hair looked lovely although the models backstage seemed to be taking naps when they could. The show went on all day with small breaks in-between. After our day of shopping we found a pizza hut and I was definitely pleased to be eating pizza again.

On Sunday, I walked through the Xixi wetlands once again with my pal Caleb. During our walk we noticed a young man in straw hat riding a dirty, old bike. As the young man grew closer, we noticed it was our UIS companion Lee! He had found an abandoned bike somewhere on the path and took it for a spin. It was pretty hilarious to randomly run into him. The three of us made our way to the area of shopping centers within the Xixi wetland park. We eventually separated to venture out on our own path and sight see. I met up with Caleb, inside of the mall and we made our way over to the visitor center where we stumbled upon an adorable stray cat. The cat nearly bit my dress but was rather affectionate and vocal. We eventually said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. Later that night, I went off by myself to a spa about 20 minutes away that my friend recommended. I have never in my life been to a spa so I figured, why not try one out in China? The smell of incense hit my nose as I entered the building. I was greeted by smiling faces and taken into a small room. There, I was presented with tea and watermelon and was instructed to shower before calling for my masseuse. The massage was 90 minutes long and I felt the most relaxed I’ve ever felt. I’m pretty sure I dozed off a couple times. I’m happy to say that my first spa experience was in China!

“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”

Although each individual day has seemed long and busy, I’m shocked to realize next week is our last week in China! Where has the time gone? Our busy schedules have taken a toll on my energy and I find myself falling asleep relatively early. Lately I feel time is not on my side. This program has been amazing but there are many activities that take up much of my free time. This past Wednesday we had a full 13 hour day planned which left very little room for me to focus on my research. As tiresome as it is, I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had learning about the Chinese culture and their sustainable energy!

Today is Friday and we toured the Hangzhou Cuisine Museum. The food all looked delicious despite the fact that the models were made of plastic. Some food items were very bizarre such as something that was labeled, “ape lips.” Still not quite sure if it was the actual lips from an ape or some sort of mistranslation. On that note, we had lunch at the museum, but our food options were relatively normal. As our scheduled day came to a close, I was able to relax and study in my room. I took a small break to pop outside and wish one of our ambassadors a happy birthday. There was a small cake fight and everyone was in good spirits. I have a very long and exciting weekend planned so I should probably head to bed. I’ll update soon, goodnight!

Xin’anjiang Hydropower Station & Dogs!

Yesterday we visited the Xin’anjiang Hydropower station and it was absolutely amazing to see. The unit was very large and is located on the Xin’an River in Jiande city. I was disappointed when we were told that we would not be able to view the large reservoir located on the other side of the unit, due to the elevators being out of commission. However, we were able to take a walk inside the plant to view the lengthy row of large generators that powered the unit. I think it would’ve been excited to see it all in action, but unfortunately that was not on the agenda. Prior to our visit to the dam, we toured around the Shen’ao Village which was of course, beautiful. The small alleyways we walked through gave me European vibes, even though I’ve never traveled to Europe and am basing my comparison from pictures and films (haha). By this, I am referring to the narrow walkways, in between the ancient, residential buildings, that vehicles also traveled through. We dodged quite a few cars and motorcyclists on our path. We were able to view some areas of the underground water system and the town was rather quiet. It was a nice change of pace from the more populated areas of China. This ancient village had a more peaceful tone to it.

I also happened to notice many street dogs and even chickens lounging around the Shen’ao Village. Stray dogs have been a common occurrence for me throughout my trip in China.  They are all adorable and most look well cared for, whereas some have seen better days. The dogs seem friendly enough but I’m careful not to get too close, even though I crave to pet their cute little bodies. This makes me miss my furry little cats back at home.

I seriously miss my cats so much…. *sniffles*

My Birthday in China

I never thought that on my 27th year on Earth I would be celebrating my birthday in China yet, here I am. It was an interesting birthday celebration to say the least. I was invited out by a new friend of mine to go to this high end Chinese club, the night before my actual birthday. It was definitely a way cooler experience than any other American clubs I’ve been to in the past. The day of my actual birthday was spent with other students on campus, touring the Xixi wetlands and eating Japanese food at a nearby restaurant. Later that afternoon a group of us went to a Chinese BBQ joint and I was more than satisfied with the food. It was definitely a nice change of pace from the constant fried chicken nuggets and potatoes served at our hotel buffet. I will say, the food here really makes me miss the food we were given in Japan, as well as the American food from home. I often find myself thinking of Taco Bell and corndogs…

After our dinner we arrived back at our hotel where I was surprised with a birthday cake from a local bakery that a few students put together for me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Their kindness and thoughtfulness is something I will forever cherish. Aling, one of our Chinese student ambassadors presented me with a gift for my birthday and it was extremely thoughtful and sweet. She gave me a musical, merry-go-round rocking horse trinket along with some soap and candy, all wrapped in a beautiful pink gift box. She told me that it represents that I am young at heart and it literally made me tear up with joy. She also printed a picture of the two of us and I will never forget this beautiful, one of a kind gift.

Although I received many birthday wishes and surprises from my peers, I do miss my loved ones back home. My parents, sisters, and boyfriend are in my top list of people I miss the most. I can’t wait to return home to see them even though I know I will miss my time here, dearly. I feel I’ve made many new friends and I intend on keeping in contact with everyone, as they have made my time here most enjoyable.

P.S. My birthday is July 7th and my Chinese zodiac sign is the monkey! 🙂

Chinese Workshop Recap

I really enjoyed our workshop classes but I can definitely say, it was a bit challenging. For our Paper Cutting Art class, we had two pieces of red paper to cut our shapes. The first one was fairly easy for me, it was the Chinese symbol for happiness. For the second paper, we were to cut two fish attached to each other. Of course, mine did not end up conjoined. I still had fun though! The dough sculpture was very fun, we all made roosters!

Carbon Monoxide Is Scary

When I woke up this morning I felt more tired than usual. After taking my morning air quality readings, I was surprised to see that the Carbon Monoxide in our room was at 16ppm. It should never be above zero and it made me very concerned. Of course after I saw the number I instantly started assuming something was wrong with me. After lunch I took another reading and it had lowered to 5ppm. That still isn’t great but at least it was getting better. I’m now even more interested to see what the future recordings will be…

My First Week!


I have successfully survived my first week in Hangzhou and everyday has been jam packed with activities and educational courses. Sometimes I find it hard to self-study or post a blog because I feel exhausted from the long days here. As a recap, last week we toured the beautiful campus of Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic and later that night, we were presented with a wonderful dinner and ceremony. The student ambassadors of Wanxiang Polytechnic put on quite the show for us and I was overjoyed to see how excited they were to have us here. The rest of our week consisted of attending classes to learn about culture and history of China, as well as the language.

The other day we traveled to the Xixi wetlands which is right across from the hotel we are staying in. We only had the opportunity to tour the museum but on Saturday, a couple UIS students and I ventured out to explore the wetlands for ourselves. There were many beautiful flowers and diverse patches of grass and trees. We noticed a terrifying looking spider, which we later discovered to be a crab (it was squished so we did not have a clear view). I will try and upload some pictures from this adventure if possible!

As I write this, I am preparing for our next workshop courses which consist of Paper Cutting Art and Dough Sculpture. I have to get to class but I will be back later with an update!


First Night in Hangzhou!

Hello Friends!

Last night was my first night in Hangzhou after traveling by train from Beijing. My WiFi reception was not my friend when I was staying in Beijing so this is officially my first blog post! Our train ride lasted about 5 hours, traveling at 302km/m which converts to 187 miles per hour! The ride was a lot smoother than I expected it to be. Once we arrived at the station we were welcomed by the students from the Wanxiang Fellows Program. Everyone was very friendly and escorted us to the KFC in the station. The hotel is beautiful with a good mixture of inside and outdoor environments. I noticed right away that I could breathe a bit better here than in Beijing. The rain last night was so peaceful and put me right to sleep. I am excited for what the rest of the day has in store for us!