One of my favorite things about my time as an undergrad student at A&M was the opportunity to form relationships with students from all over the world...I absolutely loved it! I consider it valuable to have the same experience in the reverse role.
This week I had an experience that definitely made me feel completely out of my element though...a health examination at a Ch1nese clinic. In order to enroll in the foreign students language program at our university it's a requirement....so, for the equivalent of about $40 USD you get a VERY thorough (by appearances anyway) health examination. Perhaps it was an interesting peek into the future of my homeland in view of socialized medicine.
Anyhow. The part I was most dreading was the blood tests....even in the U.S. I get really sick when they take blood...I have low blood pressure/pulse rate...so it's always a fairly miserable experience.
So, after being weighed/getting blood pressure, and an eye exam which consisted of me looking at a picture and telling what animal it was (ha), I got a bunch of stamps on my health clearance form saying a bunch of things they didn't check were approved (hmmm), and then we went into a room that was set up like a bank teller's...people were lined up and just sticking their arms through a window and getting stuck. Thankfully, our good friend came with us to help translate/take care of us, so she was able to arrange for us to lay down to get poked.
The nice thing about it was that (although I am definitely not impressed by the cleanliness of the whole situation) they didn't draw very much blood. However, perhaps due to no air conditioning, I got really sick shortly after and turned sheet white. "What did I do to her?" the nurse asked. The fun part of this is that there is no privacy, so there were ten people just staring at me while I laid on the table with shallow breathing. At this point my friend was like, "Maybe you should just eat something and we can do the rest of the tests later.", but I was determined to put the experience behind me.
So, after impressing the local people with my toughness (not) I did the urine sample, got an ultrasound (during which the woman jabbed it around so hard under my ribs that I was bruised), got an ECG (which showed that my heart doesn't beat enough), and got chest xrays. Yep, the whole nine yards. Let's just say, while the convenience of getting all those tests done in the span of a few hours is indeed...interesting....it's not an experience that I hope to repeat again soon.
I am, however, looking forward to starting class next week and getting a feel for what the schedule will be like. We met some of our classmates, who are from Mongolia, Korea and even Russia. I'm definitely thankful for the opportunity for language acquisition, although we have heard our program is intense. More language adventures to share will come soon I expect...