You are here: Home Blog Archive Stranded in Hubei

Stranded in Hubei

On December 28, 2019, I returned to my hometown in the Hubei province to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival with my family. I planned to return to Germany three weeks later and booked a corresponding ticket. Unfortunately, the plan was disrupted by COVID-19: On January 23, the local government of Wuhan announced that all public transportation in the city - local buses, long-distance buses, subways and ferries - would be temporarily closed starting 10 am. Other Hubei cities followed and suspended all public transportation. I was stuck. Since then, I started a "home office" life without knowing when it would end.
Fortunately, I brought my computer and mobile hard drive (storing a lot of data) with me when I returned to China, so my work can be carried out almost as normal. Although I planned an eight-hour working day, it was a little hard to maintain the same working pattern as I would have followed in the office. To keep a positive attitude at work, I created a routine for the working days, which helps me get the most important work done while taking breaks at the right times. Besides, I like taking a break (e.g., drinking one cup of coffee or tea) after working for one hour. On weekends, I usually give myself a day off and do some sports (e.g. playing badminton, running) with my brother.
Still, due to the impact of COVID-19, my work plan is completely disrupted. The field work is completely on hold. Some important meetings were missed as well due to the time difference (7 hours) and insufficient network speed. What is worse, my mobile hard disk suddenly broke, so that most of the data was lost....... In spite of these unsatisfactory aspects, still some great things happened during the past three months. For example, I have completed a paper which is currently in the review stage. I have also participated in some online courses on Python and have been able to develop a deeper understanding of machine learning and deep learning. Mastering these skills is of great help to the classification of tree species and the detection of dead trees for my project. Moreover, I had more time to spend with my family, which was a precious experience for me and made me happy. Being together during this time has made us get to know each other even better. On the weekend, we usually did some family activities together, like fishing, going for walks or cooking.
After eight weeks, the lockdown restrictions in Hubei Province were finally lifted on April 8, signaling that the epidemic has been effectively controlled throughout the country. However, the virus spread so rapidly that more and more countries have been facing what we have been through. It is nice to see that now, the situation in Europe is also gradually improving and that the German government is gradually loosening the control measures. However, most flights from China to Germany are still cancelled. Recently, I have returned to Nanjing with the plan to go to Freiburg at the beginning of June if flight restrictions are lifted by then. I eagerly hope that I can return to my office in Freiburg soon, as my work can't be delayed any more.

by Xiang Liu (A1)