Highlights: The highlight of my academic experience was learning about the Chinese health care system and how traditional Chinese medicine is an integral part of treatment therapy. The opportunity to visit hospitals and clinics and apply the knowledge I learned was incredible. I was able to perform acupuncture, cupping, and moxibustion (traditional Chinese medicine treatments) on patients within a hospital setting. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Furthermore, it was enlightening to see the disparities present between rural and urban health care facilities. The opportunity to discover what encompasses public health in China was a privilege that I would have not had on any other program.
The highlight of my travel experiences would be climbing the Yellow Mountain in southern China with friends. The Yellow Mountain is the most beautiful mountain in all of China. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, taking over six hours to climb 25 km up the mountain. The views were insane! Nothing like I’d ever experienced before. It was some of the most breathtaking scenery. We were literally up in the clouds. We spent the night in bunk beds at the top of the mountain, enjoying each other’s company. The next day, we spent a couple of hours climbing down the mountain. It was definitely easier to climb down the mountain and I was able to get some amazing pictures of the scenery, particularly of waterfalls. I hope I get the chance to return one day, but if not, I’m glad I took the time to make the climb.
Morning: As a student at Peking University, a typical morning included a quick breakfast before heading to class. Every morning, I would leave my dormitory and head to my three-hour class in Mandarin Chinese. There were daily quizzes that focused on improving our vocabulary and character writing. In addition, we spent a lot of time working with grammar exercises. We were not allowed to speak English at all and so my speaking and listening abilities improved greatly. After class, I would venture to lunch with fellow students to one of the many restaurants/dinning halls on campus to eat delicious Chinese food!
Afternoon: Afternoons consisted of either class or exploration of the Beijing area! For the first semester of my program, I took a course on public health in China. The second semester, I took a course on traditional Chinese medicine. Both were very hands-on and included a lot of on-sight field trips into hospitals and clinics. We were able to experience treatment therapies first-hand and I gained valuable knowledge about holistic approaches to treating disease. When I didn’t have class, I would be visiting one of the many tourist sights in Beijing including: the Olympic Village, Lama Temple, Beihai Park and so much more!
Evening: My typical evening included a variety of activities. Some nights, I would cook dinner. Other nights, I would go out with friends and eat at delicious restaurants. I have food allergies, which is challenging, but I was still able to try a variety of foods. After dinner, depending on the night, I would do work and/or explore the city with friends. Nightlife in Beijing is interesting. It was fun to check out the "scene" at different places. There is always something to do! The city never sleeps. You will see construction happening at 3 am, which I was not expecting. These explorations enhanced my experience abroad because it allowed me to see the difference in cultural interactions from day to night.