Day the Fourth – 21st August 2013

Guess what? I’ve made you all a pod for day three… which is refusing to upload for some reason. In the meantime, will you make do with day four?


  • Mild panic because I think I’m running late for my first day.

  • Selfie. This is my interpretation of work-wear over there. The office members use the standard issue museum orange tee. I kinda want one.

  • I get there more or less on time (give or take one minute of the agreed meeting time of 0830 hrs). Decide that this is acceptable, but will try harder to be early tomorrow.

  • There are just as many forms here as in the UK. Seems like I can’t run away from them.

  • I have snaffled a desk in the Learning Resources Office, which my desk neighbour is kindly wiping down for me when I arrive.

  • The office head takes me around to sort out cards for access and the canteen. She has to help me fill in some forms because I mind-blank and can’t think of the characters. Such a square. (Frankly, I think I just need to panic less about the hand-writing bit – I’m better than mind-blanks dammit!)

  • People trickle in until 0900 hrs, and the office spends the first moments of the working day going through the news and gossiping. Like every office in the world really.

  • Apparently last week a little boy with no bottoms on ran into the museum and caused a stir. This has made the news.

  • Everybody is anticipating a typhoon.

  • Everybody also seems to be under the impression that I went abroad for a research masters, and, by way of excusing my relatively poor Mandarin, have to add that I did in fact go abroad when I was 3.5 years old.

  • One staff member is a bit unwell and asks to turn up the aircon a notch. So the temperature is now at a cool 27 C. Weirdly enough, I think I’m getting used to it.
  • Lunch is at 1100 hrs. Which is around four hours after breakfast anyway, which is sort of okay.

  • I’ve been “warned” that the canteen food isn’t so good. I can’t find fault with it. Tastes home-cooked, and it’s not like I need Michelin stars anyway. But I might bring a lunch box and spoon so that nobody has to wait for my slow-eater self to finish from now on.

  • A corner of the office is altered to a napping area straight after lunch (the working day is 0830 – 1730, with a two-hour lunch break), but people mostly seem to be lying down and nattering.

  • I investigate and find that grooveshark works on the office computer, and may bring headphones some day. The nattering is fun, and I’m learning plenty of Chinese, but there are limits.

  • In case anyone is actually interested in my work details, as opposed to dipping in here for cultural funtimes, I spend all morning writing up consent forms/photo permits/information sheets, and I will spend the afternoon translating them into Chinese.

  • I will also need to do up new, bi-lingual research plans so that I can talk to people about them and actually take data.

  • Over the course of the morning I find that I am missing more Chinese terminology and will need to translate them too. Things like “ethics form”.

  • Mung bean soup for pudding. Don’t worry, cake will always have a special place in my heart.
  • The museum is skipping admission charge from September. It will be interesting to see how this affects visitor flow.

  • Cultural thing: people ask my age quite freely. We identify me as the youngest bar one lad in the office. So that’s one person to address me “big sister”.

  • Not really. The honorifics seem to only being in place when speaking to greatly senior people. Most people use addressing names, which is nice.

  • Intermittent sideways rain throughout the day. I get instructed to go home early (= as soon as the day is over).

  • There’s almost always plinky plonky music in science museums… the google-lab at the Science Museum in London provides online control of their instruments. Here at ZJSTM, there are “instruments without string” (but with lasers), a large on-floor piano keyboard that you play by stepping on the keys, and a robot orchestra. Racket!

  • I get tired onwards 1500 hrs since I didn’t manage to join in office-siesta time; I tried some yoga-breathing to relax, but sleep didn’t come. Since everyone is back to work. I settle for going for a walk around the place, purposefully go outside and in again in hope that the temperature shock will wake me up.

  • It doesn’t.

  • I have a mobile phone! Now the usual initial phase of not-knowing-my-own-number.


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