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CHINA BOUND: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC
required and discomfort of travel in China. Some scholars have complained that during their visit they had little free time to meet people informally or simply to rest; others suffered from the lack of cultural stimulation. One scientist remarked:
I had little opportunity to develop any sense of the Chinese people or their daily lives. This was all the more frustrating because I was aware that an incredible number of interesting opportunities existed beyond the walls of the hotel, but since I did not speak Chinese, I was reluctant to strike out on my own without a guide or interpreter.
Another scholar who does speak Chinese remarked that his visit was so intense and so richly rewarding personally and professionally that he lost 15 pounds, in spite of too many banquets, and returned home exhausted and elated. Most travelers report that at some point they politely declined to see one more site and instead took a day off to rest, write up notes, or prepare a lecture.
China hosts many international academic conferences each year, providing excellent opportunities for Western and Chinese scholars to make new contacts and become more familiar with ongoing research in their fields. Scholars considering attending a conference in China should be clear on the following questions:
Who is paying for travel, lodging, and food? Find out if "conference fees" will be charged and how much they will be.
Is the conference a genuine attempt to gather serious scholars or a money-making scheme?
What is expected of participants? How long should one plan to allocate for a read paper? Will translation be provided? Will the entire text be translated? Do the translators need a written copy in advance?
What are the exact dates of the conference? When do the sessions actually begin and end?