Although I came to China with the intention of never going to the hospital here, I found it unavoidable. In the past two months, I’ve visited the hospital 10 times for 2 different problems. The first was just an allergic reaction which was easily solved with 3 doses of IV treatments. In China, its so common to get an IV for even small problems like a cold because the people think the IV treatment is the fastest way to get better. Maybe it is, but I’m so terrified of injections of all kinds, so this whole hospital experience was very scary for me. My most recent trips to the hospital were for strep throat. I had a fever for 4 days, my highest temperature reading 102 F, and obviously a very sore throat. Throughout my hospital experience, I’ve come to really appreciate American health care. I was very frustrated with the doctors and hospital system here when we were trying to solve my strep throat problem. In America, its common to basically “self-diagnose” ourselves based off of what we know of our bodies, our symptoms, and information available on the internet. We know how to use basic drugs like ibuprofen to minimize the effects of symptoms like fever and pain. Before I went to the hospital, I basically already knew what was wrong with me, and that I needed to get antibiotics to get better, but when I went to the hospital, the doctor literally wanted to prescribe me Aspirin (ibuprofen). In that moment, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the doctor’s stupidity. Even when I asked questions like “What’s wrong with me?”, I got the vaguest and most obvious answers like “your throat” or “you have a fever”. Amidst all the frustration and language barriers (my teacher accompanied me to the hospital to translate for me), and with much self-advocation and persistence, I finally received the right antibiotics, taken via 3 IV’s.
Chinese hospitals are so different than hospitals in the US. For starters, they are always so crowded because Chinese people go to the hospital for every small problem. Second, they’re like “fast-food” hospitals. You start at one station and move on to the next. One station for checking in, one for seeing a doctor, one for lab tests, one for buying medicine, one for getting shots, one for getting IV’s. I saw people getting shots there and I wanted to cry (shots are my biggest fear in life). It was like the bank where you take a number and wait and there are windows with nurses on the other side and you put your arm through the slot and they inject you. The IV situation is a little different. You first give the nurse at the front desk of the IV room your medicine and your prescription, then they give you a seat number and you go into the room and sit down. The IV room is very big (over 150 seats) and somewhat resembles a bus terminal. A nurse comes around with a cart full of the IV equipment, sets you up, and you just sit in the chair for 45 minutes until it’s over. Chinese hospitals are also much less private. For example, when the doctor was examining me, other people were waiting their turn in the same room as me, which would never happen in a hospital in the US. It’s also much less sanitary. People cough and sneeze everywhere without covering their mouths, and I literally saw so many kids just pee or even poop into trash cans. Its honestly pretty gross. The plus side of Chinese hospitals is that they’re fast and cheap. It also helps that AFS pays for all our medical expenses. Anyway, it was quite the experience overall, and knowing my luck, I’ll probably be back in the hospital at some other point this year.
In other news, our school’s Grade 1 students had to go to military camp during October, so we basically had the school to ourselves for a week. We foreign students didn’t attend military week and I’m very glad because it doesn’t sound fun. My classmates told me that, although they liked military week overall because they didn’t have to come to school or do homework, the food and bathrooms there are gross, and they had to do a lot of hard exercises, even in the rain.
Also, a bunch of German students came to Changzhou just to visit for a week or so. They came to the No. 3 high school, and our two AFS friends at No. 3 invited me and a bunch of other AFSers to come to their school and do a performance for the German students. We danced to “Xiao Pingguo”, the song we first heard at orientation back in August. It was really fun to meet the German students, and after the event, we took them to KTV with us. I hope more foreign students will come to Changzhou in the future!
I’ve also had some fun doing random things like riding segways around the mall and meeting foreign basketball players in the CBA. I’m also so excited because my friends and I got memberships to the gym attached to our school, so we go everyday now. We got a really good deal on our memberships, and we can attend all the classes like yoga and zumba for free. The gym also has a pool we can use and really friendly personal trainers!