Earl Woods alumna Stephanie Chae is studying medicine in China after graduating from the University of California, San Diego, with a degree in human biology. Below is her account of her experiences living and attending school in a foreign country:
Shenyang is the capital and the largest city of Liaoning Province in northeast China and is among the top 10 largest cities in China. It is an important industrial center, which serves as the transportation and commercial hub of China's northeast. Out of several districts, I live in Heping District and attend a medical school called China Medical University (CMU). I currently study medicine under CMU's American medical program which allows the American students to study basic medicine in China for four years and then do pre-internship at New York Medical College to be eligible to practice in the U.S.
When I first landed in Shenyang in September, it was impossible for me to even perform daily tasks such as grocery shopping or ordering food at a restaurant. However, with the help of school counselors and upper classmen, my classmates and I adjusted quickly to the life of Shenyang and decided to learn things slowly, one at a time. Also, once school started, my daily schedule became more fixed.
My weekdays consist of attending lectures for the first half of the day, exercising at the gym for a break and reviewing the lectures during the latter half of the day. My classmates and I spend most of our weekdays studying. My weekend life was not much different from the weekdays except grocery shopping on Saturday and attending church on Sunday. Although my life as a medical-school student was not full of excitement or fun activities, I enjoyed every single moment; I was fulfilling my lifelong dream to be a doctor.
I did not get to explore China as much as I have wanted to due to long class hours and demanding workloads. However, some of my classmates and I had an opportunity to travel to Beijing for five days during a week-long holiday in the first week of October. Traveling out to Beijing helped me to realize how big and populated China is. We got to travel the major tourist sites of Beijing: the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, as well as a few emperor and empresses' castles. A trip to Beijing definitely made my stay in China more realistic and gave me a desire to want to travel to other cities in China or even countries in East Asia in the future.
Even though I have already lived in China for the past six months, I am still encountering new experiences every day. However, through these experiences I have much to gain in terms of learning the new language, expanding my scope of network with new ethnicity groups, as well as challenging myself to be more independent. I am done with one semester and have seven more to go. I thank God every morning for this amazing opportunity and continually pray that I will use this time very wisely. While I live and study in China for the next four years, I hope to not only gain clinical skills, but also broaden my perspective of medical missions so that I may be equipped to treat patients globally.