I still can't believe it, but here I am - China. Today officially marks one month that I've been away from home participating in a field school opportunity offered through my nursing program and traveling around China. To put into words what this time has been so far is seeming to be an impossible task. It's been a month of time change, language barriers and culture shock. A month of new smells, new food and new people. A month of realizing that a simple smile really is a universal language as I try and navigate myself around this giant country using sign language and interpretive gestures. I have learned so much during this field school experience so far - both related to the curriculum in which I participated in Shanghai but even more about myself.
I didn't know what to expect when embarking on this journey across the world. Being in Shanghai, away from the familiarity of my home and my family, has allowed me to encounter parts of myself I didn't even know existed. I guess you could say that I have been a little outside of my comfort zone. I feel like through all the newness of my surroundings I have also found a new me - and a "me" that is much more capable then I had previously given her credit.
Being a nursing student, one of the highlights of this experience so far was observing at Renji Hospital in Shanghai and experiencing the Chinese public health care system. There are many notable differences between the health care system here in China compared to home. It was such a cool experience to be able to study something I am passionate about in such a different context. I know that I will be able to apply many of the cultural lessons I learned here in China to enhance my nursing practice at home.
I am looking forward to the rest of my time visiting different cities here in China and even experiencing some of Japan. Here's to the rest of this crazy journey and the many more learning opportunities I'll encounter!
By: Shelby Anderton, Douglas College. Winner of the 2016 Stories from Abroad: British Columbia Study Abroad Scholarship.