Interview for a Press Release

A writer for UC Berkeley media relations wanted to interview me for this press release about the Tsinghua Psychology department. I said I’d blogged a lot about Tsinghua but she said she wanted “fresh quotes”. So I wrote this:

Why did you decide to take this opportunity [become a professor at Tsinghua]?

Partly because I wanted to write more books — in addition to The Shangri-La Diet — and this job would let me, because I only teach one semester per year. Partly because I thought the undergraduates would be brilliant. Partly because I thought living in Beijing would be fascinating.

What have you learned/discovered?

How talented the students are. To get into Tsinghua as an undergraduate, you have to score extremely well on a nationwide test. Oh, so they’re bookish? Not quite. A month ago I went to a talent show put on by biomedical-engineering majors. One act was five girls dancing. After a few minutes someone told me that three of the girls were boys. I hadn’t noticed. It was really hard to tell.

Influenced by Mulan, perhaps.