Posted by: corneliadavies | July 3, 2018

Acupuncture training in China diary. Part 2. Settling in.

flautist-(2)_ed_webApril 14th
I had to write my ‘speech’ for tomorrow’s opening ceremony. Wang Yue, the helpful organiser and translator in the office, asked me to do this, as an incoming student. I went to the office and typed it on her computer, as she wanted to be sure she could print it and translate it ahead. But she was out. Doris, who works at the next desk, told me to go ahead and type it into Wang Yue’s computer, anyway. So I started to, except that the machine was set up for Chinese, so everything I wrote emerged in Chinese characters after a couple of key strokes… interesting, but strange. Amidst laughter, Doris sorted it: As most of the instruction icons are in Chinese, I was a bit stuck for sorting it myself!

This afternoon I took Dobbin (the bike) out for his first proper spin. I wanted to visit the Temple of the White Cloud the other side of Beijing, which caused Doris and the others in the office to grin at me and say: “we want you back for tomorrow” (a comment on Beijing traffic, apparently). Well, the traffic was fine. OK, it was slightly challenging at the intersections of major roads, of which there are many (capital city, 12 million inhabitants… ), but I stayed with the cycle pack, and we all crossed together.

The temple is beautiful and peaceful, and was a very appropriate place for me to centre myself before the course. It’s a temple compound, with many small. Daoist shrines within, so is a very suitable place for an acupuncturist. I spent two gloriously peaceful hours there, and realised just how much it’s OK being here on my own.

Later, most of the other students were going out on a bonding exercise to a ‘special bar’. I guess I didn’t look too impressed, because the Swiss woman, Tamara, who was sort of insisting I go, said: “yes, I don’t like smoky pubs either, so we’ll just spend a short time and come home”. So I agreed. And it was smoky, and noisy and bizarre: why would a Western European band go to Beijing and play cover versions of Dire Straits and Santana numbers in a large, Western style pub???? Yep… it was an experience, and yep: we went home early (phew!).

April 15th
It was time for the much-awaited opening ceremony for the course.

These things are done according to a certain formula, with prestige being very important. The doctors and professors made speeches, welcoming us and extolling our virtues and their virtues. All very correct. And then I was called on to make my speech. (Sorry? Just me? I thought all the students were making speeches.) Yes, apparently my opening introduction that I’d written for Wang Yue to translate was not just one of the student introductions; it was the speech from the representative student. Ah! Of course! In China everyone must have their say in the right place, so as all the directors and doctors etc. had made speeches, it was only correct that one of the students should, too.

So I made my speech, in bite-sized pieces, and Wang Yue translated each section. Then everyone politely applauded. Then we went to the restaurant attached to the Institute and had the welcome banquet. All very friendly, with the professors and translators scattered amongst us. Talking to Dr Huo, the deputy director who had given the main welcoming speech, Tamara said in surprise: “Oh, so you speak English. Then why didn’t you give your speech in English?” “Because we are in China, so some things must be done in Chinese”, said his translator, quick as a flash. “Ah!” we all said, understanding the importance of this…

I like China. This is most definitely not a third world country, something I think we tend to forget. Things are certainly different here, and everything isn’t ‘bling’, as it sometimes is in the West, but I don’t have a problem with that. Actually, if it were ‘bling’, it would have to be continually cleaned or replaced, as one thing that seems certain here is the dust. It blows in from the Gobi Dessert, which is pretty inescapable. In my first diary entry, I teasingly mentioned the sweeping, and sweeping is, indeed, a big issue here: an unending issue. It’s DUSTY!

Today contained many delightful moments: some very simple pieces of human interaction: like the Chinese girl who unwisely tried to cross a busy intersection, against the traffic at the same moment that I tried to do the same, from the opposite side of the road. We both stopped in our tracks and simultaneously noticed each other as a mirror, and joyfully laughed at each other as a big lorry passed. We’re all the same really, when it comes to it…

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