Cupping, Acupunture, and Basketball?

I had an amazing experience living on my own in Shanghai for two months working at 上海三爱中医门诊部 (San Ai TCM).  San Ai TCM is a Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic that focuses on holistic methods specializing in acupuncture and cupping specifically. My work at the clinic mainly consisted of assisting doctors with their acupuncture and cupping procedures, learning how to perform the procedures, and preparing medicine in the pharmacy.

The prescribed medicine consisted of various natural herbs, roots, and minerals from all over the country. Each individual ingredient had it’s own drawer or jar and the sheer number of  them made it seem like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Working at San Ai TCM also blew away my preconceived notions of technology being absent from these Traditional Chinese methods. Special machinery is used to control temperature, moisture, and dispense coffee like grades of the ingredients. I was not expecting to see such a technologically savvy electronic inventory inside a clinic based on the foundations of the past.

My coworkers and even my patients were all very friendly and patient with me when it came to getting them what they needed. With me knowing some Mandarin Chinese but being no where close to fluent I fumbled around my first week pretty badly. However, throughout my time seeing the extentivness of TCM and the faith in which people put into it coupled with me being there long enough to conclude results in my regular patients was powerful.  My schedule at work was also flexible enough to allow me to make multiple overnight trips to other cities for the full Chinese experience. I was able to visit The Great Wall Of China In Beijing, The Great Yellow Mountains of Huangshan, and the gondola of The Water City Suzhou.

Out of all of my trips hiking The Great Yellow Mountains in Huangshan had to be my favorite. I was able to catch up with Maxwell Zucker, one of my classmates, who was also in China for the summer. Together we  climbed over four hours in the elements, ultimately experiencing the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen in our lives. After reaching the peak and taking in the scenery for awhile, we came across a random blacktop basketball court on top of this beautiful mountain in the middle of rural china with a ball. Despite the monstrous cardio we went through the scenery and opportunity was too perfect for us not to play. After 15 mins of us messing around throwing up shots and playing one on one we had a crowd of over 200 people watching and cheering us on. This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I could never forget.


Traveling the world and experiencing different forms of medicine first hand has allowed me to acquire unique health care skills and form my own opinion on the current state of Western Medicine. Not only that, but I was in the best place in the world to put my Chinese i’ve been learning at Davidson to the real test. I am extremely grateful for the many lessons and the opportunity as a whole.          

Taipei vs. Shanghai

This video was produced by Alex Bau and Shanel Tage, for ANT 372 and the Davidson in Shanghai Program in the fall of 2012.

Goodbye to Shanghai

IMG_2327

It is hard to believe that the semester is already ending, but I have finished up my last homework assignments, bought all my last-minute gifts, and started packing. Although I came into this semester as a rather sheltered student from the suburbs, I feel like I’m leaving it as a jet-setting international traveler.

I have loved my time in Shanghai. Every time I ride in a taxi and look up at those big skyscrapers at night, I can feel that I’m at the center of a passionate global city. From eating street food at night near Tonghe to walking along the Bund, it has been an amazing semester.

My time in Shanghai is ending, but Shanghai will always have a very special place in my heart. I made such meaningful friendships and had such wonderful experiences in one of the interesting cities in the world.

My Semi-Eco, Shanghainese Lifestyle

Trying to be environmentally mindful in a city like Shanghai takes a great deal of blind faith. It takes blind faith because almost every “recycling” or “sustainable” facility doesn’t look like that at all. In a country where I don’t speak the language or know much about local sustainability, I simply trust and hope that a few of my recyclables end up somewhere other than a landfill.

The air quality suffers in China, which means that my lungs suffer, too.

I lived in Davidson College’s Eco-House during my last academic year, so I had a relatively well-established routine in trying to be environmentally thoughtful. Of course, that routine was drastically changed when I arrived in Shanghai. In some ways, my carbon footprint has significantly increased, but in other ways, I have actually become more energy efficient while living in Shanghai.

Here’s an example of the advantages and disadvantages of an environmental lifestyle in Shanghai. In the United States, I carry around a CamelBak filled with tap water. In Shanghai, I carry around huge plastic bottles of mineralized water. The major downside is that I drink massive amounts of water, insane amounts of water according to my friends. I am always well-hydrated, so I amass piles of plastic bottles. I put them outside my apartment door with the rest of my trash, and I cross my fingers that the Tonghe employees throw them in with recycling. Or if walking on the street, I throw them into one of many old trash cans with two sections labeled “recycling” and “other waste.” I really do not know the ultimate outcome, though.

Fingers crossed that these get recycled.

Luckily, I am more energy efficient in other ways. For example, I hang-dry my clothes. The washing machines are not equipped to dry clothes, so like all the other nearby apartments, I dry my clothes on the porch or in my room. It saves energy, but I never actually started hang-drying my clothes until coming to Shanghai.

Hang-drying clothes is also a stylish way to decorate a dorm room.

Environmentalism is a complex topic for most developing countries, but especially for China. Shanghai had a global environmental spotlight for some time because Chongming Island was originally planned to be the world’s first purpose-built eco-city. As Chai Lu, Feng Ran, and I have researched throughout the semester, that eco-city has not come to fruition. Many of the environmental initiatives around Shanghai seem similar: they are great in theory but hardly executed in practice. Still, Chinese environmental efforts are definitely still active and on-going. My plastic water bottles might be plentiful, but I do believe that at least some of them are being recycled.

While the Group was Away…

This past weekend I stayed behind while most of the group traveled to Meixian. You know exactly what happened. That’s right, a trip to Han City. This outing was long overdue.

Myself, Shanel, Nicky, and Chai Lu set out early Friday morning. I don’t think any of us had been up so early on a Friday since we arrived in Shanghai. Before we arrived at Han City we made a pit stop at the South Bund Fabric Market. I toyed with the idea of having a winter coat made, but I didn’t like the shop girl’s attitude or price, so I opted out.

The visit to Han City was quite interesting. Maybe I had high expectations for the quality of goods, but many  vendors’ goods failed to live up to my standards. Thankfully, I was able to find a few items I liked. Like always, I bargained until I got the price I wanted. I am especially proud of one item, but again, I can’t let you see it. 🙂

This shopping trip I realized the benefits in group shopping. Nicky and Shanel took us to their friend’s shop. Due to the friendship formed between Nicky, Shanel, and the store owner, Cindy, we made several purchases without much bargaining. I was able to purchase a very nice “something” from Cindy at a price I knew she would never sell to anyone else except maybe family or longtime friend.

While Nicky made his purchases, Chai Lu bought iPhone cases. After she returned and we finalized our purchases, Chai Lu took me to the iPhone booth. With a little reminder to the shop keeper of the price she paid, Chai Lu was able to get me the same price. I found exactly what I wanted for only $3. And of course, I couldn’t leave with just one.

Later on I purchased Converse tennis shoes for 50¥. When Ben decided he wanted a pair, I took him to the same shop. Even though the seller tried to say I paid 55¥, Ben left with 50¥ Converses. I knew exactly how much I paid. Don’t let them play games with you.

I found a few parallels between Han City and Qipu. Bargaining goes without saying. At both places I have my preferred booths or stores, and I don’t feel the need to look elsewhere. Yes, my preferred stores are the ones with the best quality, but don’t worry, that just means more aggressive bargaining.

If I have to choose between the two, I enjoy Qipu more than Han City. Han City is for tourists, and I don’t enjoy bargaining with a tourist price. Qipu caters to the Chinese consumer. You can find a few westerners sprinkled here and there, but for the most part, Qipu serves as a cheaper alternative to H&M, Zara, and UniQlo. I thoroughly enjoy taking advantage of that.

Recently, my mom asked me about the quality of my new clothes and “fake” goods. I told her that if you know where to go, then it’s quite simple to find good quality at a decent price. Always remember to bargain, no matter the store. It doesn’t matter how many times you have purchased items from your favorite store, the sellers will always give you an initial rip-off price.

Believe it or not, this past weekend was not my last visit to Han City. In order to haul all my new clothes and such home, I need a new suitcase. Shocker! Let’s see if I can get the one I want for 150¥.

css.php