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Four undergraduates studying abroad in Australia, China and Japan this summer agreed to act as foreign correspondents for This Week@UCSD, filing dispatches from the field every two weeks or so. Ryan Ferrell reports from Beijing China and Young Chun from Osaka, Japan. Meanwhile, April Deibert is based in Melbourne, while Michelle Di Fiore studies in Adelaide. Here are their stories.

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Ryan Ferrell
Exploring the Great Wall

Beijing, China, Aug. 6 -- Since the last time I wrote, I've settled into my neighborhood and explored more of China. Last summer, I neglected to visit the Great Wall with UCSD’s Education Abroad Program. I have since been scolded for my neglectful traveling, which ran in complete opposition to this country's popular saying: "bu dao chang cheng, fei hao han:" “if one has not been to the Great Wall, one is not a true man.”

So, I took my first step into manhood just a few weeks ago – on a section of the Great Wall known as Shanhaiguan's First Pass Under Heaven.

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Sacred Mountain and Deadly Virus

Beijing, China, July 16 -- As I'm writing this, I'm stuck in a fan-cooled, dark, slummy Internet bar until I can board a train for the six-hour ride back to Beijing with a standing-only ticket. Not exactly the ideal vacation for most people (or myself). I just hiked 6660 steps (or more than 660 yards in 3 1/2 hours) up one of the most, if not the most, famous mountain in China.

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Ryan Ferrell filed his first piece from a seedy Internet café in rural China. The UCSD junior is doing research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the nation's capital. He is taking part in UCSD's Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences program, launched in 2004 with support by the National Science Foundation. PRIME provides students with the opportunity to participate in international research and cultural experiences that will better prepare them for the workplace. Ferrell studied Mandarin in China last summer. He said he hopes this three-month stint will allow him to improve his knowledge of the country.

 

 

 

 

Young Chun
From Traditional Festivals to Hand-made Instant Noodles

Osaka, Japan, Aug. 6 -- We went to two of Japan’s biggest summer festivals, called Gion Matsuri and Tenjin Matsuri. We spent a whole night having lots of fun, including singing karaoke and playing the latest Japanese arcade games. We even had the chance to create our own hand-made instant noodles at an instant ramen museum.

The past five weeks I spent here thanks to UCSD’s Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME) research program have been an incredible time for learning, sharing and experiencing both Japanese culture and international collaborative research.

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Movie Land and a Giant Microscope

Osaka, Japan, July 6 -- It has been just over two weeks since we arrived here and so much has already happened. I walked around the old temples and shrines of Kyoto – and occasionally got lost. I attended lectures with Japanese graduate students, sang Karaoke songs with professors and even operated the world’s biggest electron microscope. It all has been amazing- to say the least.

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Young Chun studies at the Cyber Media Center at Osaka University in Japan, home to the world's largest electron microscope.The bioengineering major also is a student in UCSD's Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences program. Her team works to create precise 3-D models of muscle cells, known as myocytes. They also got to visit ancient temples in Kyoto and the coast of the Sea of Japan. Chun's Japanese is basic, but she said she hopes it will improve this summer. She plans to become a doctor.

 

 

 

 

Michelle Di Fiore
Meeting Penguins and Kangaroos

Melbourne, Australia, Aug. 6 -- Cars racing on the left side of the road are no longer a shock but just the norm. I no longer think in Pacific Standard Time except when I make calls home, where everyone laughs when they think that my day is ending while theirs is about to begin. After a month of coping with 12-degree weather, riding around Melbourne in trains and eating meat pies for dinner, I can finally say that I am adjusted to life here in Australia.

I even finally had a close encounter with this country’s best-known native animal, the kangaroo.

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Hospitality and Research

Melbourne, Australia, July 16 -- This summer, instead of filling my suitcases with swimsuits, towels and sunglasses, I stuffed it full of scarves, jackets and socks.  Then I took an 18-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean to Melbourne, Australia, with four other UCSD students.

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This summer, Michelle Di Fiore took an 18-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean to Melbourne, Australia, with four other UCSD students. Her research at Monash University involves three computer programs, which calculate the properties of organic molecules and proteins used in drugs. Di Fiore plans to become a doctor. She writes that this opportunity to be a part of advancing medicine gave her the courage to pack her suitcases and head down under.

 

 

 

 

April Deibert
A Military Coup, a Cyclone,
Conservation Work and a Wonderful Job

Adelaide, Australia, July 16 -- "Why can't you?" A simple question from an Australian friend helped me decide that it was at last my turn to move overseas. I had made many close friends over the years while living in International House and working as an adventure counselor at a ranch in Northern California. Adelaide, in South Australia, seemed like the perfect place to land - not only did I have friends there but it was 180 degrees different from my hometown of San Diego.

Little did I know that studying abroad would take me on the adventure of a lifetime - experiencing everything from wine tasting in the Barossa vineyards, Australia's best-known wine region, to doing conservation work in the Outback, to being flooded in by a cyclone near the Great Barrier Reef, to witnessing a military coup in Fiji. More

In the past six months, April Deibert got caught up in a flood during a cyclone on Australia's east coast, was offered a job as a ranch hand in northern Queensland, took part in a conservation project for the South Australian government in the Outback and interacted daily with local Aboriginals. She works for Senator Natasha Stott Despoja in Adelaide. Deibert also studies international relations as an exchange student at the University of South Australia. She has been in the country since January. When she is not hard at work, she practices the motor sport of drifting. She also helped herd sheep by motorcycle once.
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