Our trip to China
Colin and I arrived to a hot and very humid metropolis where slow traffic and fumes were dominant – but we had a wonderful and extremely productive visit!
Having been briefed by our current Chinese students we hunted for a restaurant where the food was fresh and looked yummy – and found this fantastic place! The food was prepared by a chef with a black belt in noodle making and consumed using…chop sticks!.
We did use chopsticks!
With a full tummy we progressed on foot towards the Forbidden City. We never got there as we had to be back at the hotel where we set to meet a student who graduated 2 years ago. She now works full time in Beijing as a medical editor in a start-up company, acting as an interface to technology colleagues who develop software and hardware for expected mothers and unborn babies. The dinner was (again) delicious and the discussion was fascinating.
The following morning we were set to give a presentation at a recruitment agency that acts as a mediator between potential students and the University. We arrived there using the underground train – which was easy to navigate and very modern (and with air condition – phew!). The meeting itself included a videoconference link to two other sites and it was part of their routine process to be inclusive of colleagues in remote sites– fantastic! We went back to the underground to get train tickets for our trip to Hangzhou the following day. The station was MASSIVE but we were helped by a few young people who spoke very good English. In fact, Beijing is full young professionals and both Colin and I had a sense that we were the only people with grey hair … maybe that was the reason a few people on at the station asked if they could take a picture with us….
Art at the underground
The 2 ex-ANP students we met that evening treated us to the best Peking Duck we ever had. They paid for the taxi and the bill using their mobile phones and told us they never carry cash – no need to ‘be bothered’ with coins. It was great hearing their stories and get the latest news (weddings, boyfriends, children…) from the MSc cohort from last year – we were very proud of their achievements!
We were fortunate to be staying very close to Peking University but the short walk was done in the pouring (torrential!) rain. In fact, we realised that it only rained in China when we had no umbrellas with us… but in general we had good and dry weather during our 5 day visit. We got slightly lost on the way to the Medical Humanities building and ended up in a locked psychiatric ward (long story…). The ‘exposure’ to that clinical environment in Beijing was unexpected and augmented other site visits we had in Hangzhou. Overall, the discussion we had with key staff in Peking University was very useful and we are hoping to follow it up soon.
Professor Lu Nursing department Peking University with Sharon and Colin
We left Beijing with mixed feelings. It is a very modern, vibrant and easy to manage city with plenty of traffic (people and cars) but you could be anywhere in the world – really. We saw hardly any birds and the smog was evident but did not affected us – health wise. The 5 hours trip to Hangzhou on a train, traveling at 300 Kilometre an hour, revealed more of the construction ‘miracle’ that engulfed China – as we passed though clusters of large tower blocks with hundreds of busy cranes.
We arrived late at night and prepared for a meeting we had the following morning with the dean of the Nursing department at Zhenjiang University. We were picked up by two nursing lecturers and the discussion in the car was so intensive that we ended up in a minor car accident. Undeterred – we walked the last 500 meter to our meeting that was held in the campus’ coffee shop – informal and refreshing. We were treated to a fantastic lunch and a tour of the famous Sir Run Run Shao Hospital where 7000 people attend the outpatient department – daily!
Nursing station in an inpatient ward at Run Run hospital
We were shown around the campus and had an afternoon (green) tea at a traditional dwelling, which was uprooted and placed at the heart of a large garden. Students have such a wonderful place to wander around – with large grassy area whilst listening to music that was blurring out of mushroom shaped speakers… judging from the catchy tunes I would not be surprised if China is the next nation to join the Eurovision song contest!
The following day we met nursing colleagues at Hangzhou Normal University and were introduced to the Director of the international office and his depute. The new Campus, which we toured using a Golf buggy, is currently being built but looks very impressive already. The lunch we had there was (yet again) FANTASTIC – rich and delicious! It was hard to focus on the afternoon ‘task’ – but Colin and I delivered a lecture to some 20 undergraduate students followed by a talk to some 20 PG students on what is ‘nursing’. We were very impressed by the level of engagement and the English of the students we saw and were delighted to be reunited with the 2 students who came to Edinburgh last year. It was their graduation day and Colin was able to demonstrate how to celebrate in style!
Colin and the Girls!
We were treated to a delicious dinner before our driver came to take us back to our hotel – to get ready for a site visit to following day…
This final day in China was dedicated to reviewing the facility for our exchange students and ensure they will be well looked after. After seeing their accommodation and the dedicated staff who are set to support them – whilst in Hangzhou – we remained concerned. We worry that the students will have such a good time that they may find it hard to go back to their NHS Lothian placements in year 4!
The goodbye party included… food… lots of it… and again delicious dishes to share. We will progress with potential collaboration with colleagues in China and next time we are there… we will make sure we fast a week prior to departure – to have a chance to try all of the dishes that we were offered!
food glorious food!
Sharon & Colin June 2016