我们的Alibaba trip

Hi, I’m Dan, an ALP-TFI Scholar here at Zhejiang University, China. This is week 7 of the blog of my summer term in China, if you haven’t seen the previous few, click here to be caught up in my life.

Eh, so what happen this week?

Well, if you’ve been reading my past few blogs(honestly, why would you? It’s just my ramblings) there has been a recurring theme, namely, ‘the storm’.

Ah then somo is the storm?

The storm is our DIP presentation, a 3.007 project in Chinese. And unfortunately, I’ve been roped into presenting for my group as well.

 

Must be because of my handsome looksdontkillmepls.

Aiya, presentation only, I close eye also can do with one hand and one leg.

Well, if it were a normal presentation I wouldn’t be as worried about it. But it was a presentation to a Chinese audience.

And what is a presentation when your audience can’t understand what you say?

So, me being the brave soul I am, presented my speech to the audience in China, in Chinese, talking about technical terms like machine learning and the sorts

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不要 lie leh.

Palms wet, knees weak, arms heavy and standing on stage

Yeah I didn’t really present in Mandarin, which sane Singaporean would do that(if you’re part of that special group, you should be here instead of me 🙁   )

 

What I did was, cover the technical terms in English and capped off our presentation in Mandarin with what little Mandarin speaking skills I could muster.

I am very proud of myself.

Who ur project mates?

Dis is us

In my group, only two of us were from SUTD, the rest of them were local students at ZJU. Honestly, most of the interactions with some of my group members were done in this week, the last week of the project. Mainly because we had always split into smaller groups to do work(outside of meetings and brainstorming of course).

 

During my the presentation, I realized that most of us were juggling more than two projects at the same time, all to be presented in the same event. In this aspect, I really applaud the students to be able to manage multiple projects with the same deadline.

 

Anything else that happened this week?

Well, I also went to the Alibaba campus, and honestly, it’s very much Silicon Valley style, a free campus with excellent facilities and provides its employees with the best comfort items. However, it also seems like it demands the absolute best from its employees.

It’s a common problem. Companies like Google, Facebook, and even Alibaba have great facilities, gyms, living spaces, nap pods. But at the same time, you’re expected to be there all the time. And especially in China, there is really no work-life balance that locals experience.

 

Look at the sleek style he’s rocking

Well, at least I got to snap a cool photo of Jack Ma, the rest of the people in the photo are the original team who got Alibaba running.

 

 

 

So how are you going to bedazzle us with your ‘intelligence’ this week?

Well, I’ve been talking about cultural differences for quite a bit on my blogs.

And honestly, the culture difference is really significant. For one, ZJU students really sleep quite early as compared to SUTD students.

Most students I’ve talked to mention 1-2am as ‘beyond late’ for normal sleeping times. Whereas during my stay in SUTD, the earliest time I would sleep would probably be around 2 am. Moreover, they are constantly surprised by me replying to texts at 3 am, often asking why I was awake at that time.

That was mainly just an example of how our culture differs. I think even though most of us had grandparents that came from China 2-3 generations ago. There is still a lot of cultural drift that has happened. And it just shows how race doesn’t matter as much as your upbringing, and the culture you were grown up on.

I think this point is especially relevant in a globalized world that is plagued with racism, whether overt or not as visible.

At the same time, it’s very easy to pick out the racists and ignore the understanding, casual people in your everyday life. Of course, meeting a person who discriminates against you because of your race is horrible, and we should aim to be accepting of one another. But I feel that for every person like that, there are many more accepting ones.

I’m not trying to defend anybody.

I just feel that sometimes we have to take a look at what we have, how far we’ve come, and how much we can still grow as a species.

 

On that note, I’ll end my blog here.

See you guys next week

Regards

-Dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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