Maria Holland

Archive for February, 2015|Monthly archive page

EAPSI 2015!

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Today I received the news that I have been ‘tentatively’ selected into the 2015 EAPSI Program for China.  (The ‘tentative’ part means that they still have to run it by the China Science and Technology Exchange Center and my host.)  I was SUPER excited to learn this, which in my opinion was LONG overdue.  We were told we would be notified in “February to early March”, which is a pretty long expanse of time.

I would have been waiting completely in the dark, too, if I hadn’t discovered The Grad Cafe.  It’s a forum where people compare scores and life stories, and speculate on graduate admissions and fellowships.  It’s probably best that I didn’t know that this thing existed when I was applying to grad schools, judging by the obsession with which I clicked refresh multiple times a day over the last month.

Anyway, The Grad Cafe has had an EAPSI page the last few years (2012, 2013, 2014).  I found it a valuable resource because people post when they receive offers.  From this I learned that offers come out in batches, by country, staggered throughout mid February to early March.

For any future applicants, here is a list of notification dates, by country, for the last four years, as culled from the aforementioned pages on Grad Cafe:

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As you can see, it’s a little bit all over the board, but it gives you an idea for how things have gone in the past.

The timing worked out okay, though; I got to share the good news with my mother and abuelos over the phone as they were in the car on their way to visit me.  (My mother is good luck for me and scholarships; she also arrived the day I recieved word about my full-year scholarship to China!)

Now I can finally get started on the list of things I thought I might have to do, if I got the fellowship: sublet my apartment, notify friends in China, turn down some other summer opportunities, order bilingual business cards, etc . . .

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If You Love Computers, This Novel Should Be on Your Must-Read List

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2015 at 2:24 pm

So I was just clicking through my RSS feeds on feedly the other day when I saw the headline:

If You Love Computers, This Novel Should Be on Your Must-Read List

I like books.  I like computers.  So I clicked.  And guess which novel the article was about???

Liu Cixin’s science fiction novel The Three Body Problem was a smash hit bestseller in China, and has finally been translated into English by Ken Liu.

NO WAY!!  This is the book I’ve chosen to read this year (in the original Chinese).  Granted, I first heard about it from a NYT review, so it’s not like I can claim any hipster cred for the discovery, but it still seems like an incredible coincidence.

Also, when we had friends over for Chinese New Year yesterday,

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my old roommate was excited to hear that I was reading 三体 because it’s her favorite book!  I definitely chose well.

I couldn’t finish reading the entire Gizmodo article because I could tell it contained spoilers – let me just say that the event they claim the novel “opens with” has not happened yet, and I’m on page 55 out of 300.  But, I am sharing the link in case it inspires others to read it (probably in English).  Just don’t try to talk to me about it until December!!

Not Sure If My Chinese Is Terrible, Or If This Book is Just Strange . . .

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2015 at 2:05 pm

This book really is like walking into a dark cave.  So much of communication is context, and I have none.

I’m in the fourth chapter right now.  The main character (so far?? apparently there is another, more main character, that I have not yet met??), Wang Miao, is playing a video game.  He is walking in a cold place and sees two men wearing robes.  One of them introduces himself as Zhou Wen-Wang, and the other as his follower.  The second guy is carrying a giant hourglass.  They use this to track the time, because the sun is not reliable.  Actually, there are two suns, and they come out and go away seemingly at random.

With me so far?

After they walk for some time, the second sun comes out.  Unlike the first sun, which is weak and doesn’t warm them, the second sun is so strong that they seek shelter behind a rock.  But then there’s a conversation between Zhou and his follower along these lines:

Follower: I can’t stand it; you won’t give me any dried fish and you won’t let me eat the dehydrated ones . . .
Zhou: Then you can just dehydrate.
Follower: After I dehydrate, you won’t throw me away?
Zhou: Of course not, I promise to bring you along.

Around this time, I go and look up the word 脱水, just to make sure it does mean “dehydrate”.  This just doesn’t make sense, right?? But it does.  So I keep reading.

The follower climbs out from behind the rock, takes off his cloak, and lays down on the ground.  He starts sweating heavily, so heavily that it turns into little streams . . . and after ten minutes, he is just a human-shaped piece of skin.  

Zhou assures Wang Miao that he is not dead as he rolls this piece of skin up into a convenient bundle.  He further explains that everyone in this world has the ability to dehydrate under this sun.  And that they have to carry him with them, because if they leave him by the side of the road he’ll get eaten or burned by others.  

This was my understanding of the passage.  But this whole eating dehydrated people struck me as a little odd, no?  So I stopped by my roommate’s room; she’s read the book and has offered to help me if I get stuck.  I explained to her my interpretation above, and she listened, nodding every few seconds.  When I got to the end, she looked at me as if to ask, “So what’s your question?”

Never mind.  It’s hard to tell if my Chinese is good enough – if I’m actually reading or just making up fantastical stories.  I guess that’s one additional challenge of reading science fiction.  In these books (and especially when the characters are playing video games) anything is possible!