Who did I travel with?
All intended graduates of my class were offered the externship. Out of about one hundred students, eight decided to go. My expected roommate dropped out last minute. I was disappointed. The up side was that I roomed by myself, and had plenty of privacy for the two week trip, in addition to the great company of the other students. Five of the students who I traveled with spoke English and Mandarin, and at least three that I know of were born and raised in China for some time. The other student, who became my travel buddy, and I, did not speak any Mandarin. Speaking the language of the country seemed to put the other students more at ease, less guarded, and happier. Without knowing the language I was initially uncomfortable. I did not know how other people would respond to me with such an obvious handicap.
As the time went on,
I relaxed and appreciated the support I received from the Mandarin speaking students and the Chinese people as whole. Everyone was generally helpful and understanding. The experience of not speaking the language allowed me to reflect on the possible unease of my future patients without any acupuncture experience. They would not be able to speak the language of acupuncture that I was familiar with. They may feel uncomfortable and unable to relax at first. I keep a short distance between this experience and my first time acupuncture patients today in order to create the best rapport possible.
I have been a Licensed Acupuncturist for five years, with two years experience owning my own business. Looking back at my journey, traveling to China was an important moment for me as a student. After three consecutive years devoted to my Masters Degree in Acupuncture at the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I was ready to take the next steps and explore the real world of acupuncture. For most students, that did not entail traveling to China, but I could not pass up the opportunity. I packed my bags and flew over the Arctic circle to the other side of the world.
Acupuncture began in China,
and has been practiced there for thousands of years. ancient acupuncturist understood the importance of discovering the root of a syndrome, and because I was on my way to becoming a Licensed Acupuncturist, I knew it would be important to explore the country that is the root of acupuncture. My trip consisted of 12 days of intense study and clinical observation. I studied for hours in the classroom learning from doctors on subjects ranging from musculoskeletal pain, gynecology and oncology. I had the amazing opportunity to intern (see who I traveled with) side-by-side with the doctors in the hospital, while they worked from intake through the treatment process. Patients were relieved to receive their treatments. One woman who stuck out to me was being treated for Bells Palsy, which is a paralysis on one side of the face. Before pictures of her face showed a drooped, asymmetrical mouth. On her last day of acupuncture treatments her face was completely restored. The doctor explained that she came to see him 2-3 times per week for 3 weeks and never missed an appointment. I was inspired by her and acupuncture as an effective medicine.
My willingness to go the distance back then has followed me into the growth of my practice today. I had to be open to traveling to China, and eventually to take a risk to start my acupuncture practice. Similarly patients must be open and willing to get better. If there is no willingness, no treatment will be successful. The journey of a thousand miles beings with one step is a statement true in travel and in healing. Pack your bags and see what acupuncture can do for you today!