Of Bad Days and Unexpected Culture Shocks

“Positivity all the time is kind of unrealistic,” said my friend while we were chatting about my experiences here in Mexico. I wholeheartedly agree. We are constantly told to maintain a positive attitude and be optimistic and that we will have a blast on study abroad. But we should remember that we are also human beings who have real emotions that should be addressed.

If I were to provide a bit of advice about study abroad, I would say to be honest with yourself. You are the most knowledgeable person about your own emotional state and needs. If you are having a bad day, acknowledge it. You don’t have to break down and cry if you don’t want to, but it’s not the end of the world if you do.

The truth is that bad days do happen — even in other countries.

Continue reading “Of Bad Days and Unexpected Culture Shocks”


Students in my Faculty -Led Study Abroad Program, Connecting Art and Science – The Cultural History of Art and Anatomy in Italy have spent the past four days in Florence, the Cradle of the Renaissance. When we departed Florence yesterday, the students nearly cried as if they were leaving a new love. In fact, that is what they were doing.

Continue reading “Firenze!”

HHS 350 in China — Day 6: Tradition and Health

We have officially passed by April Fool’s Day in China, but we were not able to evade the day, not even in the far reaching lands of Beijing. We had some determined jokesters on April 1, and they came up with a pretty good idea to keep us on our toes. They let me in on the plan to partake, but kept me guessing for the final outcome.

As for today, I think we were all pleasantly surprised and somewhat uncomfortable by the degree of access we had a the Hospital of Acupuncture and Moxibustion CACMS. We were able to visit patients with treatments in progress, talk to various doctors and clients, visit the pharmacy and, in the case of one student, get a personal demonstration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) cupping procedure. Continue reading “HHS 350 in China — Day 6: Tradition and Health”

HHS 350 in China — Day 5: Endless Enthusiasm

This message summarizing our day is going to be a tad less detailed, despite the day being filled with amazing places and adventures. We’ve hit the midnight hour and I need my rest to keep up with this enthusiastic group.

Everyone seemed to be especially high spirited today. That might be because we were able to start the day an hour later to make up for the plan to stay out until about 9:30 at night. Some students used the extra hour to sleep longer, others to eat more, and some to explore the area. But everyone was ready to hit the Art Zone once the bus arrived.  Continue reading “HHS 350 in China — Day 5: Endless Enthusiasm”

HHS 350 in China — Day 4: Factories and Rehabilitation

Our day started at 7:45 am with a 90-minute drive to the Beijing Champion Crown Dental (Ying Guan) company to visit one of three facilities owned by Mr. Dapeng Guo, the general manager and owner.

In 2002, he started a denture-making business and, upon seeing a need to help Beijing community members with disabilities who struggled to find work, he created a campus-like work environment with dorm rooms, cafeterias, recreational areas and professional training/classroom space to learn the necessary techniques for the available jobs.

Continue reading “HHS 350 in China — Day 4: Factories and Rehabilitation”

HHS 350 in China — Day 3: Great Wall and Olympic Park

Another day of excitement as all the students learned some Chinese on our 90-minute trip to the Great Wall. I think they all know how to say “good morning” and “thank you” now, but Danny and I challenged them further by teaching them how to say “The Great Wall” in Mandarin as well. Family and friends should feel free to test them when we get home.

Everyone was glad that we switched our Saturday trip plans for the Great Wall to today (Tuesday). For me in particular, once I remembered that this coming Saturday is a big holiday in China (Tomb Sweeping Day), I was very relieved. If the students think China is crowded now, they can’t even imagine the full-blown holiday effect, magnified and intensified by weekend status. It would have meant an entirely different experience than the peace we encountered today.

Continue reading “HHS 350 in China — Day 3: Great Wall and Olympic Park”

HHS 350 in China — Day 2: Summer Palace, Foot Massage and More!

On the way to our first location today, we learned that Sunday’s overwhelming traffic jams in Beijing are due in big part to Chairman Xi Jinping’s return to the city.

But it seems traffic is a daily part of life in modern Beijjng, a city that used to be called “Bicycle City” back in the late 90s. Back then there were millions fewer people in residence vs. today’s official population of 22 million (unofficially it’s 25 million), many of whom seem to have cars. Continue reading “HHS 350 in China — Day 2: Summer Palace, Foot Massage and More!”

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