Tuesday, Jan 8
Today we had our first full day of classes. We have class for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon with a three hour lunch break in between. We're starting to learn the basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine and are figuring out very quickly that it is completely different from what we think of as medical practice. It was a pretty long day and many of us took advantage of the long lunch break to enjoy afternoon naps. We are continuing to explore the city and looking forward to all the new learning experience we will have during our stay in Chengdu.
Wednesday, Jan 9
We were able to explore the herbal market this afternoon to see the large variety of herbs that are used for treating diseases with Chinese medicine. It was bigger than any of us ever could imagine! There were some pretty typical herbs, like saffron, and some not so typical, like dried scorpions. Many of us decided to buy some saffron to enjoy when we get home. After the market, we headed to the TCM museum to learn about the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They had many artifacts, like ancient surgical tools, that we were able to learn about. When we had finished at the museum we went out for a "family dinner" at a place where we ate hot pot. It is similar to fondue, where there is a big pot in the middle of the table, and it was separated into two sections, one spicy and one mild sauce where you put in meat and vegetables to cook. The mild side had an entire fish in the boiling oil which was a little concerning at first but thankfully it didn't have a fishy taste at all. It was a great time just to hang out and get to know each other. We really are like a family here and have definitely made some lifelong friendships.
Thursday, Jan 10
Most of us had a pretty relaxed day today. It was another long day of classes and we are starting to get into a pretty regular schedule. In class we talked about diagnosing the different diseases by looking at the tongue. For instance, if the tongue is dark red instead of light red then the person may be diagnosed with "excessive heat" and cooling herbs would be prescribed to balance out the heat. The homework load is beginning to increase and we are all working hard to understand the Chinese method of curing diseases.
Friday, Jan 11
We had our first clinical experience this morning! Most of us observed a lot of tongue inspections and pulse taking. One thing that many of us discovered is that patient privacy is not as big of a concern here and there may be multiple people in one examination room trying to talk to the doctor. Another interesting thing is that adult children will often come in for their patents and tell the doctor their parents' symptoms and proceed to obtain a prescription without the patient ever being seen by the doctor. After class, we all went to the ancient market and picked out supplies to learn calligraphy. Calligraphy is an incredibly difficult Chinese art from which takes many years of practice so, needless to say, none of us were that great at it. Our teacher for the lesson showed us some of his paintings and many people ordered paintings from him. We are looking forward to seeing his finished products! We are also excited for all the fun things that we have planned for the coming weekend.