Blog Post 2: Shanghai, China 2/7/18

From the lectures on healthy policy China by local professors to walking down booming streets in the city, I have come to gain an understanding of the health care system in China from what I have seen and heard. While in class and discussing the issue of doctors being known as “white snakes” who receive the backlash of angry patients, I have come to realize that even today the system has major flaws. Not only does this indicate flaws in health policy but also public policy in general because physical and verbal violence results from the Chinese citizens’ lack of a right to protest. This was also the most shocking thing I learned about health in China because in the United States doctors are often respected, but in China they are abused and scolded for things that they don’t have control of, such as drug and treatment price and health insurance coverage. Even further, these certain “white snake” doctors are experiencing such bad incrimination that they tell their children not to become doctors and they often absolutely hate their jobs. In the United States, those with the desire to become doctors are looked up to and generally supported. I think that this could potentially cause a lot of issues in the future because China has a massive population, and I’m afraid the number of doctors will begin decreasing and be unable to fill the demand of everyone seeking medical attention. 

            Additionally, I would like to highlight a more positive part of health in China and that is the initiative towards healthier lifestyles that I actually saw when walking the streets of Shanghai. Although I’m sure there is still a long way to go and the initiative will take a while to reach less developed areas, there is promise in what is happening. I saw multiple areas within walking distance of the ECNU campus with outdoor, free to use exercise equipment and parks with running paths made of track material to make exercise more accessible and easy for Shanghai residents. What also came as a surprise was the number of people that I saw using these facilities. In the United States I’m used to running on trails alone and seeing playground/ exercise areas empty, but here there were many families and even elderly partaking. I think this is a good reflection of the reactive governmental response to health care issues that there is in China. For many problems in health care and environmental health, China is quick to acknowledge the problem and attempt to deal with it. For example, in response to global warming and noting the pollution problems caused by massive industrialization, China has made bike transportation more common and seeks different ways of production to limit their emissions of fossil fuels. Conversely, in the United States people still question whether global warming is real and who is the cause, rather than coming up with solutions to the problem. 

            As for my general experience in Shanghai, it was more amazing than I even could have imagined. I came into this program with China as my most looked-forward to location because of how different I new it would be from the American lifestyle I was used to. Something I found most surprising during this stay was the development of Shanghai. Many parts of this city reminded me of the United States and the American influence was apparent in things such as food, clothing, architecture, and even lifestyle. It actually made me a little sad to see Americanization in things where traditional Chinese culture probably once stood. I think this became even more clear after our trip to Beijing, which was my favorite few days of the month-long stay. To me, Beijing seemed more traditional, had more history, smaller streets, and a tighter-knit community in general. In contrast to Shanghai, the area of Beijing that we were in had so much more Chinese culture present that made it feel a lot different from the US. 

            Another important aspect of my stay was the language barrier. I new coming in that I would be the minority, unable to communicate in the language of the country of which I was visiting (which made me a little nervous), but I was still shocked at the relatively high number of people I ran into who could not speak English. It seemed that especially the older population had little English knowledge, and younger people had at least some skills with the language. Despite this, I was often able to communicate through pointing and nodding, which felt so strange at first, but eventually became natural. It was actually really exciting when you would make eye contact with a person that you have no means of communicating with verbally, but knowing that what you wanted to say is understood simply by your body language and pointing. I think that I expected more people to speak our language because of what I have experienced in other places abroad that I have visited and how strong of an influence English seems to have around the world. This made me come to terms with the fact that I owe it to others to learn a new language. Even other visitors to Shanghai seemed to quickly switch between their native language and English, and I see how abnormal America must look for not pushing second-language learning. I hope that eventually I have the ability to show a foreign country that I am visiting the respect of being able to cater to their culture and speak their language as a stranger visiting from another place. 

            In totality, I have only explored a tiny speck of what China really is, and I hope that I will be able to one day to return to Shanghai as well as visit other areas in the country to get an even larger understanding of the country’s functioning as a whole. What I have learned so far has made me think differently already, so I can only imagine what the rest of the trip has to offer. 

63 Replies to “Blog Post 2: Shanghai, China 2/7/18”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.