Six months in China, or, Science in the Time of COVID-19

At this point I’m one third of the way through my postdoctoral fellowship. And, to be honest, while I think it’s been pretty derailed by the whole global pandemic, I suspect that the fallout would have been much larger if I was in Australia or still in China but at a less… esteemed university. Downtime at Zhejiang University due to the pandemic, for me, was effectively six weeks. However, I had special permission to return to the office early and the real university downtime has been more like three months.

But six months is a good time to review and reflect, so let’s do so.

Have I made good inroads on my goal to ‘learn epic skills and do cool stuff’? Not particularly due to a combination of COVID-19 and a dire lack of process documentation, but things have been started.

Am I any better at Chinese? Solid no.

Am I more comfortable existing in China? I value my independence highly, so as long as my Chinese remains abysmal, I suspect I won’t be terribly comfortable. This is obviously something easy to fix.

Have I made connections and networked effectively? Another solid no, but there is at least good reason for that.

Which means that, in general, I’m not satisfied with my progress so far. But there’s certainly plenty of time to steer true.