Afsrp report (formattiert)
6.1 Technical details of the research stay
I was working in the group of Prof. Dong Shaojun at the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemis-
try, Changchun, Jilin province, P.R. of China, from November 2 until December 11, i.e. 6 weeks.
Her address at the institute is Prof. Dong Shaojun, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry,
Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 159 Renmin Street, Changchun 130022, P.R. of China.
Her phone number is ++86 431 5682801 5562, fax ++86 431 5689711 and e-mail
My exact travel itinerary to/from and within China is given in Tab.1
Tab 1. Travel details
6.2 Personal experiences
The Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry is said to be the best of its kind in China - and not
only by the people at the Institute themselves. The “Institute” is actually a semi-autonomous city
within Changchun with housing for its 2000 employees, an own heating system, shops, schools
and even a clinic. Living at the Institute’s student dorms was the best thing that could have hap-
pened to me; hotel would have been the costly, very moderately luxurious isolation cell. It’s unu-
sual to go fetch warm water for your bathtub to warm you up at the sixth day after the heating
broke down with outside temperatures between -10° and -20°C. But you get used to it.
Actual working conditions at the “Institute” - which should rather be termed a graduate school
with corresponding electroanalytical, physical and organic chemistry faculties - largely depends
on a number of confusing factors which indicate different levels of funding. The laboratory I’ve
been to was part of both the “Chinese Academy of Sciences” and an “Open Laboratory” (includes
the obligation to have international cooperation, to publish many papers and to organise confer-
ences) which means super-funding for Chinese measures.
Indeed the Electroanalytical Chemistry section boasts virtually every instrument one can couple
in any way to electrochemistry. A true competence centre for electroanalytical chemistry. Our lab
was equipped with 468er PCs running with Windows 3.1 but all the other offices on our floor had
new Chinese-brand PCs with Windows 95. Way further down at the Physical Chemistry building
the picture is bleak: deserted labs with no piece of equipment which looks like it has been bought
Nevertheless the Chinese lab life is considerably slowed down despite relatively up-to-date equip-
ment. There are no ubiquitous water-proof pencils or towels, most equipment is expected to be
brought back to its stand-by state (i.e. everything is turned off before the lunch break to wait half
an hour after lunch break until the instruments have again warmed up) or covered, there is some
time and bureaucracy necessary to get ethanol or other chemicals, small glass vials are former
penicillin vials which are fetched from the clinic and generally the Chinese working attitude is
more serial and not as anticipating. Another important factor is respect, both to authorities like
professors or instruments. Both are best avoided. Knowledge about instruments is rarely profound
and instruments capabilities are hardly taken use of. A bad habit is not to let “short term visitors”
like me into the well-equipped library.
However there more important problems, at least for the people who work there. It takes some
months to get a publication, some more months until the ordered chemicals actually arrive and
eventually your idea has already been published by someone else. Simply frustrating.
Eventually my stay was fruitful for both sides. I solved long-standing problems like how to export
ASCII data from the Tracor Northern spectrometer, built the first holder for a spectroelectrochem-
ical cell out of my girl friend’s vitamin box, left many IgorPro procedures, a LED and different
attitudes on reports, lab journals and the like. I was of course a good opportunity to practise Eng-
lish but was always rewarded by Chinese practice for my “Colloquial Chinese” which saved my
day during my later travelling in China and was really very well the effort. Not to mention the
many “roasted” and dumplings with Jingzhong, Changwei, Bing and Bingquan, bowling and
much more. Its needless to say that the Chinese themselves were the most rewarding part of my
I can only recommend for people who will go to China to also go to some other place as Shanghai
or Beijing because I felt they are not very representative, especially Shanghai. And bring some
dental floss and vitamins, you will need it.
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