I ran across a short article I wrote for the AAAOM acupuncture college newsletter back in 2006 while we were living in China. I thought you all may enjoy this fun little read.

Me, my wife and two boys have been living in Jinan, China for six months and it is nothing like we imagined.  So far, it has been the most difficult and exhilarating experience of our lives. I think I speak for my entire family, that if we had had a “Plan B,” an opportunity to quit, move back to the states and have our old house, work and life, we would have done so in the blink of an eye.  Every day here, we have challenges, realizations, problems, or obstacles that needs full attention.  For example, there is the culture shock and the great trouble of ordering food in a restaurant without speaking the language or being able to read a menu.  There are also a great many reasons why I am happy to have had my hepatitis shots, I won’t say anymore. Another one is the day and a half traveling back and forth from different governments buildings to secure our family’s visas.  Dr. Lu asked me to share my thoughts and experiences of living in China.  I thought you would enjoy it most if I shared with you the perfect day of what it is like to live and study in China.

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I wake at 5 AM every morning, tired from late-night studying and prepare for my day.  I pack my bag with books, a Chinese-English dictionary and daily necessities.  I grab my travel mug filled with green tea and hike off to the mountain by 5:30. The streets are empty of cars and I can walk down the middle of the road.

 

 

 

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Thousand Buddha Mountain hovers over the southern part of Jinan and is a 10-minute walk from our apartment.  There, in the morning, you can catch a true glimpse into a unique aspect of the Chinese culture.  As the sun rises, a great many people, young and old, men and women, file through the gateways.  There you can see people hiking the vast trails through the trees, or friends strolling along the stone pathways talking about their family.  You can see people exercising, dancing, laughing, calling out at the top of their lungs, flying kites, writing calligraphy, playing instruments, hanging their birds in cages to sing and to relax or meditate.  I come to practice tai chi with Master Zhang whom I was introduced to by Neng Thao.  This once in a lifetime opportunity to learn tai chi from a great master is energizing, blissful and relaxing.

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A little after 7 AM, I leave the mountain and stroll down, a once vacant, now, very busy local street to buy myself breakfast from one of the numerous vendors selling some of the most delicious foods your lips will ever touch.  Most days, I buy a local favorite called “shaobing,” a roll stuffed with eggs, vegetables and meat and eat that as I make my way to the university bus stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2745It is a ten-minute bus ride from the university to the Shandong Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital where I need to be at by 8 AM for my internship.  I take the elevator to the 5th floor, the acupuncture department.  I, along with 3 master’s degree students, assist and follow Dr. Shan.  On any given day, I observe the treatment of around 30-50 patients.  I have seen many interesting cases including a few unique pediatric cases involving poor physical and mental development.  The regularly seen acupuncture treatments are for hemiplegia, stroke, neck, leg, knee and back pain, Bell’s palsy and trigeminal neuralgia.  Doctor Shan performs the main acupuncture and students finish the complementary needling and the withdrawing of the needles.  Right now, I still mostly watch, take notes and ask questions.  It has taken time to settle into and feel comfortable in this fast paced setting.  My new classmates are fun, kind and highly educated and well trained in acupuncture.  After the last patient is finished, electro-stimulator machines are put away and used needles are prepped for sterilization, my four-hour shift at the hospital is done.

It is around noon now and I have two hours of free time until my afternoon classes of Chinese language and Chinese Medicine.  Sometimes, I head back to the university and have lunch in one of the cafeterias, which is a unique experience of eating with several thousand students, or, sometimes I ride the bus back home and have a quiet and more intimate lunch with my family.  With food in my belly, a little relaxation and review of my class notes for the day, it is off to class.

IMG_3272The Chinese language has proven more difficult to learn than I anticipated, for it takes constant review, reading, writing and practice.  My language skills, though, are improving, slowly, day by day.  Right now, my goal is to improve my language skills and deepen my medical vocabulary so I am able to communicate at a higher level both in classes and at the hospital.  My medical classes begin later this term.  I have many classes to complete in the next two years including, advanced acupuncture, neurology, “The Spiritual Pivot” and acupuncture anatomy.

When class is finished, I am usually very tired and after a twenty-minute walk, uphill, I am back home, where I get to enjoy time with my family, prepare dinner and study into the night.  Does this sound too good to be true?