Post-Trip Reflections

  1. Since this was my 4th year studying Chinese, I was more or less already prepared for what the language learning experience would be for this summer. However, there is an undeniable advantage to learning a language in its native country: exposure. Learning a language when you are forced to utilize it in your every active moment reinforces what’s learned in the classroom in ways that cannot be replicated in another country. Furthermore, learning language in the culture where it is spoken provides the student insight into how language is used colloquially, the subtle differences between learned speech and practical speech. The opportunity to learn medical terminology in China absolutely satisfied my goals going into the program, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
  2. As a result of this experience, I am more informed and eloquent about matters relating to Chinese culture, society, history, both in Chinese and in English. I find that I can comfortably discuss social issues that before I not only had no opinion about, but perhaps did not even know. My worldview is more aware of how culture influences one’s attitudes towards foreign topics, as I had many discussions with Chinese individuals about America, and vice versa. For someone interested in applying for an SLA grant, I would highly recommend doing some preliminary research about relevant and current social topics. In day-to-day interactions these might not be relevant, but once your language fluency allows you to engage in higher level discussions, these topics are by far the most informative and interesting.
  3. I hope to apply the language and cultural competencies I picked up in China to my medical education, research, and medical career. I am particularly interested in how cultural attitudes inform or influence social attitudes and behavior relating to healthcare. For example, Chinese physicians face the risk of personal injury/death from disgruntled patients or families. This phenomenon is nonexistent in the US; why? What are the underlying social factors that determine the physician-patient relationship and influence their interactions? By studying Chinese language, culture, and healthcare in China, I have a stronger background from which to engage in multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural research to understand these phenomena.