Chris Scheithauer

Departure Date:
Return Date:
Local Institution:
Hillsdale College
Local Advisor:
Tim Dolch
Foreign Institution:
National Astronomical Observatories of China
Foreign Advisor:
Wei Wei Zhu
Student Status:
  • Q. What country were you staying in?
    • China
  • Q. Where were you doing research?
    • Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Q. How long were you there?
    • ~11 weeks
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing?
    • I used machine learning to process data from FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope). In particular, single pulse profiles were analyzed to search for new pulsars. This code would automate the pulsar discovery process using artificial intelligence.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing?
    • The data from FAST is private so you can only access it in China! There is no other way to participate so it was a truly unique opportunity.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad?
    • There is a tremendous amount of culture, history, and experiences around Beijing. You can go from seeing ancient artifacts to futuristic new malls in a single day.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language?
    • 马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhǔhǔ) means not bad, so-so, or fair. However, character by character it translates into English as “horse horse tiger tiger”
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad?
    • The most challenging thing was communicating complex problems. While many speak English in China, that group is actually only a tiny fraction of the overall population.
  • Q. What did you do in your free time?
    • During my free time, I explored the city and went to famous Beijing sites such as the Great Wall, Summer Palace, and the Forbidden City. I also got to explore lesser known places such as the Beijing 798 Art District and traditional hútòng (胡同) or alleyways. I was also able to see an orchestra concert and an opera at the National Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • So many things! I enjoyed studying the Mandarin Chinese language and meeting new friends. In Beijing I made a new friend in a coffee shop named Joan from Stockholm, Sweden. Going to see her in a few months when we will both be in NYC at the same time. You never know who you will meet! It is easier to make international connections than you think and it is very rewarding.
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • nan
  • Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad?
    • Talk to everyone! You will meet many great people if you put in the energy. Even if people look busy don’t be afraid to ask for help either.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad?
    • While I had studied Chinese before going to China, my language skills improved dramatically due to immersion and constant practice. Also my navigation skills improved a lot! Being in China forces you to stop relying on Google Maps.
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known?
    • Immediately ask for help to make a Chinese bank account. Last summer we used ICBC and it worked very well. This will allow you to pay using WeChat and Alipay which are the most common forms of payment and super convenient. We had a lot of trouble getting our American credit cards to work, even cards marketed for international travel.