Global Heels: Jinbing Bai, China

January 29, 2014
Jinbing Bai. Photo by Helen W. Hall.

Jinbing Bai. Photo by Helen W. Hall.

Jinbing Bai is a doctoral student in nursing and also a third-year Royster Fellow. His research area is children’s pain and symptom management and parental behaviors during painful treatments and procedures.

Where are you from, and what is your country known for?
China. It is a great country known for many things, such as its long ancient history, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, Chinese cuisine and making pottery and firecrackers, as well as its rapid economic development over the last few decades.

What languages do you speak?
Mandarin and English.

Why did you choose to study in the United States? And why at UNC?
I chose the United States because there are so many excellent universities here to train future researchers and leaders in a variety of disciplines. When I started college in China, many of my teachers were from the United States. They told me lots of interesting stories about the education system and people here, which inspired me to study in the United States. I am also very curious about how people from different continents or cultures learn from each other and work together to get new ideas. UNC-Chapel Hill has one of the premier nursing schools in the States and has very talented and insightful professors in nursing research. I really appreciate the opportunity I have to work with and learn from them.

What unique perspectives do you feel you bring to your classrooms as an international student?
Context is very important when you try to understand a phenomenon. As an international student, I always address the importance of culture and background factors while understanding or interpreting a phenomenon, no matter where I am. Also, I encourage bringing ideas and thinking about things in a global way because we are now living in a small world with people from different places.

What course at UNC have you enjoyed the most and why?
I would like to say NURS 970: Advanced Statistics: Principles of Regression, Correlation and Analysis of Variance, taught by Todd Schwartz. You might think that a statistics course could be very boring. However, in this one, we not only collected our data using M&M candies and different brands of cookies, but also analyzed our candies and cookies following different statistical models, such as general linear modeling. It is a very exciting and “sweet” class. We learned these statistical models in an easier and interesting way, maybe because we just loved the candies and cookies too much!

Tell us about a professor who has motivated you or helped you.
Sheila J. Santacroce is my adviser and also a Beerstecher-Blackwell Distinguished Scholar in the School of Nursing. She provided many resources to help me with my studies and research. For example, she introduced different professors and people to me so that I could become involved in different groups or organizations to train me as a future nursing researcher. She also helps me adapt to life here, such as giving me recommendations about holidays and culture.

What do you like best about UNC, and how is it different from universities in your home country?
UNC is a university with rich resources, various campus events and activities and diverse people. I like the Carolina blue color in particular because it gives me an inspiration of the vast sky and sea. Compared with the universities in China, the difference is that students at UNC know how to balance study and other entertaining/relaxing activities. Also, you can find students in a broad age range which makes me realize the meaning of “never too old to learn.”

What do you like best about living in Chapel Hill, and how is it different from your hometown?
Chapel Hill is a lovely town to live and study in because of its friendly people and comfortable climate. I was born in a big city in China, which is full of tall buildings and fancy stores, with many people in the streets. In contrast to Chapel Hill, the pace of life in my hometown is so fast, and people work very hard.

What has been the biggest challenge in adjusting to life in Chapel Hill and as a student at UNC? Language and cultural issues were the greatest challenges for me at the beginning. I feel that the English language we learned in my country is so formal. I still remember that I could totally understand the professors and classmates very well in classes. However, after class, I definitely lost myself in what they were talking about.

Which campus activities do you most enjoy at UNC?
I love working out and all outdoor activities. I spent lots of my spare time in the Student Recreation Center to join in different kinds of sports activities, such as badminton, bicycling and weight-training … It is a healthy way to release the stress from my busy academic schedule and research responsibilities.

If you could introduce student activities from your hometown to UNC students, what would they be?
We have lots of interesting student activities in China, such as chess, tai chi, calligraphy, singing and dancing competitions and fun track and field activities. Most students in China like playing badminton and Ping-Pong and practice taekwondo.

Why should international students consider attending UNC? What advice would you offer an incoming international student?
UNC is a high-valued university in terms of its low tuition and fees, but high-quality programs. It is a university known for its sports, such as basketball and football, so that you can enjoy, relax and give yourself a break from the demanding academic workload. My advice: “Communication is the best way to let people know you and you know them as well, never be afraid to let people know who you are and where you are from. Be proud of yourself for joining this big and supportive family of Tar Heels!”

What are you currently reading?
Good Days, Bad Days: The Self in Chronic Illness and Time by Kathy Charmaz. This book tries to define the concept of “self” for people who are fighting and living with chronic illnesses. The word “self” really touches me a lot when thinking about the transition I “myself” experienced in a new and unfamiliar country in 2011. It also reminds me of the importance of identifying “oneself” whenever in sorrow or happiness, wherever I am in life!