SIT Study Abroad China: Health, Environment, and Traditional Chinese Medicine

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About

Discover China’s rich multicultural history and pressing health and environmental issues in Yunnan Province and Beijing.

Key Topics of Study

The role of traditional Chinese cultures and belief systems in contemporary life
Health, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and additional indigenous health care knowledge systems in Yunnan
Chinese minorities’ healing systems and their views on health preservation at the community level
Relationship between ethnic minority tourism, cultural change, and environmental sustainability
Historical, religious and social factors that have worked to shape the Chinese healthcare system
Role of indigenous knowledge in health preservation, environmental protection, and sustainable development
View of western and Chinese health concepts and practices within China and on the global stage

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 2 reviews
  • Academics 9
  • Support 9
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 2 of 2
Default avatar
Francis
9/10

The most authentic way to experience both urban and rural China

The SIT Study Abroad program in China gave me the opportunity to interact in depth, in a meaningful way, with the local culture. Throughout the entire experience, you are engaging with local people. From day one, nearly all meals are on your own and you are given a stipend to find breakfast lunch and dinner at restaurants around the city. In addition to quickly improving in my basic language skills around food and money, I learned the stories of restaurant owners and learned to appreciate the incredible variety of food in this rather foreign culinary culture.

The assignments, especially in the Field Methods and Ethics seminar, get you out talking to people even more. One assignment focussed on learning one person's life history through interviewing in Chinese. I dove into the story of a hardworking couple from a small rice farming village in Anhui province who immigrated to Kunming to open their own dumpling store. Neither of they had attended middle school, yet they worked 6AM to 10PM seven days a week to support their son through college. Through that one interview alone I gained stunning insights about the mass migration of farmers to the cities and the incredible value parents place behind education in this country. And that was only a single project out of many more over the 15 weeks of the program.

The language teachers do an incredible job of preparing you for these kinds of experiences. Classes are super intense, with only a couple students per teacher. You fly through the material at breakneck pace and they keep you very busy. Yet language is the backbone of this educational experience, where the majority of what you learn comes from the local people themselves.

The assignments outside of the language classes are hardly conventional. Upon arrival we were given characters on a piece of paper and then told to find the place in the city and navigate back to campus--we learned life skills of how to navigate and survive in a Chinese city through immersion. These exercises started off small, in groups where we could rely on each other to accomplish the tasks. But by the end of the semester the task is much more daunting: live independently anywhere you choose in the country and conduct novel research on any topic that interests you. You work up to this point throughout the semester. You are given a week to travel where you please for vacation. You are asked to develop a miniature research project independently in a Bai ethnicity village during a week long rural homestay where the program staff are only a few kilometers away. But the whole time you must prepare for the Independent Study Project, where you will be on your own for four weeks. The program staff are there to help every step of the way, but they give you incredible freedom. This is not only about learning Chinese language and culture, it's about developing into a stronger person.

I loved the experience. It was one of the most intense three months of my life, and it was very, very stressful at times. Yet every day you are learning. I feel like I am more enlightened.

How can this program be improved?
If I could change this program, it would be to improve the language classes. They need to stop using textbooks to teach vocabulary and reading, because the textbooks focus on formal, "book language" that is not very useful in the practical situations we encounter regularly on the streets. Although classes were intense, they were inefficient, and I felt I wasted precious time memorizing uncommon words and deciphering obscure passages about subjects I never encountered during my semester there. Instead, they should use articles from newspapers or magazines or the internet discussing current local issues and derive vocabulary from those primary sources. Grammar can still come from a textbook, of course.

Furthermore, leading up to the ISP period, I received nearly no feedback at all on the draft project proposals we were supposed to submit. While they are correct that the best experiences can happen without much forethought, I think they could have given much more advice and help to all the students about how to structure a good research question and what are the best methods and study designs for answering those kinds of questions. This would not only reduce student stress during the planning process, but it would also help students produce higher quality projects.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Bcamcrane
10/10

SIT Yunnan Rocks!

I'm a senior international affairs/Chinese major at CU Boulder, and I went to Yunnan with SIT in the fall of 2011, and had the time of my life. If you are a student looking for a truly immersive cultural experience in China then this program is for you. The staff is incredibly helpful and experienced, and by the end of my time there they felt more like good friends than teachers. I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a memorable and life-changing study abroad experience.

How can this program be improved?
Longer time
Yes, I recommend this program

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About SIT Study Abroad

SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT offers more than 70 programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as comparative programs in...