Calligraphy, Culture and Cupping!

Just as we thought the days could not get any better we encountered calligraphy, Chinese takeaway, Chinese culture lessons and a “foot massage”.

We dragged ourselves out of bed at 7.30am after a slight lie-in and made our way to a calligraphy lesson taught by the University’s Director of Finance. He presented us with a brief history on Chinese writing including all the different writing styles (they all looked the same to me!)

We were then let loose with a “shu fa bi” (“shoe far beer”), ink and some rice paper to try our hand at Chinese writing! With the help of the amazing Chinese students/volunteers we translated our names into the Chinese symbols. We were very impressed with our calligraphy skills and I think we all mastered this skill…. Ok maybe not quite but we definitely enjoyed it! You know its bad when the Chinese students (as politely as possible) compare your work to that of a child.

After our wonderful calligraphy session (which also included finding out our multi-talented ODP student Allyson could play the Cheng!) we had lunch as usual in the Canteen which was very busy! Megan and Tasha had the delight of ordering a milkshake which translated as ‘strawberries and cheese’- which we quickly realised was just like strawberry cheesecake at home so not as bad as it initially sounds.

Our afternoon consisted of a Chinese Culture lesson taught by a wonderful lady called Xiuye. We felt very looked after with bottomless Chinese tea and cake and it was a consensus that lectures should be more like this back at Edgehill *wink* *wink*. Xiuye taught us about the different cultures surrounding marriage, religion and festivals. I think we all came away from this having a much better insight into what principles Chinese families follow and what is expected of the man in marriage proposals.

Unfortunately, one of our members did not have the best of days and lost her battle against the mosquitos – at least she was the first to see inside a Chinese Hospital though (I am sure she will explain more about this in her blog later in the week). Thankfully though, she is on the mend and made it back in time for the next item on the agenda which was a well needed “foot massage”.

On entering the building for our ‘foot massage’ I can only describe it as being ‘papped’. We were greeted by 6+ staff members, a red carpet (which could have been there all the time but I’m sure it was just for us) and so many people taking pictures and videos. I kind of understand what it feels like to be famous now, just a little bit.

We were then guided into a room with 6 beds and a pair of pyjamas folded on the pillows. After a nervous wee we sat on the end of the beds eagerly awaiting what was to follow. The ladies came in with bowls of water and using no English at all managed to tell us to put out feet into the scalding hot water whilst we sat there and gritted our teeth. The next two hours developed mixed reviews of either the most relaxing of your life or the most excruciating. It involved kneading, pulling, slapping, kneeling, shaking, manipulating, bending, pinching, twisting, punching, rubbing, elbowing, scratching you name it – they did it. You should have seen the look on our faces when they brought the fire and proceed to ‘cup’ our feet. However, I am almost 100% sure that despite the experience everyone will feel the benefits of it tomorrow as it was so intense- it was amazing. It can’t have been that bad if it ended in one of the lecturers snoring can it?!

It must be noted that the only male in the group received extra special treatment from one of the ladies who treated him to a pedicure- maybe she just wanted to make his feet look pretty as she cut and filed his nails and everything!

This trip just keeps getting better and better and I literally cannot wait for what the rest of the week has in store!

Blog post by Lao Lun (Lauren Cumston) on Wednesday 12th June

The Chinese way!

The day started promptly at 8am, where we were introduced to the neonatal department and were informed about the importance of infantile touching, acupuncture and the traditional baby massages used within the Chinese culture. I believe I can speak for all of us when I say, we were astounded by the quality of English spoken by the lovely Jan, our nursing instructor, who was more than happy to accommodate for our lack of skill in speaking the wonderful Chinese language! The session itself was very informative and it was fantastic to see how different the Chinese methods of treatment are to those in England. Jan had the loveliest of natures and was very passionate in what she was teaching. It even made us feel relaxed just watching her demonstrate the acupuncture/ baby massages! We received some lovely gifts from Jan as the session came to a close; it was unexpected but so very much appreciated.

11:30 was fast approaching, so we all decided to head over to the canteen, escorted by the lovely students who had taken time out of their days to chaperone us on our action-packed adventure. One of the students asked what my favourite foods were, in a bid to help me narrow down the options which were provided to me in abundance. Lunch is always a fantastic opportunity to shape up on our Mandarin and to build friendships with other students.

After lunch, we eagerly rushed off to our accommodation, which is absolutely gorgeous might I add, to freshen up and get ready for our tour of the Ironman Museum. We were all just about to make a move to the bus patiently waiting outside for us, when we heard a rumble above our heads, loud enough to set a car alarm off, quickly followed by torrential rain! Our initial reaction was to quickly run to the bus to avoid getting soaked, however a selection of the students grabbed their umbrellas and kindly sheltered us from the rain, which to our amazement was another example of how truly generous and considerate the Chinese culture is.

The drive to the Ironman museum was a pleasant one as we got the chance to see more of Daqing and to take plenty more pictures. When we arrived at the museum we saw a group of young children in pristine uniforms, which we could only imagine were our equivalent to ‘scouts’ or ‘brownies’.

Once inside the Museum we felt honoured for the guided tour of the history of Daqing’s oil rigs. We learned that Daqing means ‘Great celebration’ and that they were so thankful and proud of Wang Jinxi as he was the leader of the drilling team, deputy director of Daqing revolutionary Committee amongst other titles. He was known as ‘the iron man’ for his dedication to the oil fields. We found it extraordinary that he used his own body to mix the cement and mud together regardless of his injured leg.

We topped off the day with a student conference; we were completely overwhelmed with the effort and preparation that went into the presentation given by the students. The presentation was followed by a game of ‘pass the flower’ which was an ice-breaker where the person holding the flower when the drum stopped had to stand up and choose 1) whether to introduce themselves, 2) Sing a song or 3) Answer a question on the Chinese culture. As well as that, they performed for us and we were absolutely blown away with how talented and confident they all were. We tried our best to join in singing along in Chinese, whilst linking arms with them. After receiving such powerful, moving performances we felt the need to give something back so we decided to dance to the Cha Cha slide and involved them all. Michael took the lead and started off our presentation by offering a speech and singing the Liverpool chant ‘ Si Senior ‘.

Soon after, a small group accompanied us for typical Yorkshire tea, otherwise known as a ‘proper brew’, this was very beneficial and emotional due to the lovely friendships we have made and will continue to form.­­­

With love, from China x x

A fantastic class by our nursing instructor, Jan!

Blog post by Natasha Gaskell on Tuesday 11th June 2019

A warm welcome featuring Chinese tea, chopsticks & chicken feet!

This morning we woke up bleary eyed but refreshed after our sleep. After breakfast we headed to the school of nursing for our welcome ceremony not knowing what to expect. What we were greeted by was beyond our wildest dreams. Chinese students dressed in beautiful traditional red costumes and tutus welcomed us as we shook hands with the directors and senior lecturers of the university. We were all shocked to find that our jet lagged faces were being papped at all angles.

Our tables were adorned with personalised gifts, fruit, cake and Chinese tea. The walls were draped with tinsel, balloons, and banners. We then all took turns to nervously stand and introduce ourselves and listen to history about the university. We all had a bubble of joy joys when the students presented us each with a bracelet made from flowers and embellished with the university logo.

After taking time to get to know the students we were taken round the university and clinical skills rooms: wards, ICU, theatre, neonatal and trauma. Safe to say many of the rescue annies were worse for wear!! Particularly the poor mannequin in lithotomy!!

Following this we were taken to the anatomy museum, this included exhibits from donated bodies. A super interesting way of learning and visually getting to grips with a and p!! The students did an amazing job translating this into English!

11.30 came and we were taken for lunch, initially it felt super early to eat but the moment we saw the food our bellies were grumbling. Fresh, tasty nutritious food and we were ready for anything. Hannah enjoyed the challenge of eating sweet corn with chop sticks and did it marvellously!!

After a quick refresh we headed off to the shops with our student hosts!! Chinese teapots, all the tea in china, sparkly accessories and all you could wish for!! Our baggage allowance is going to get hammered!!

After our retail therapy, hunger pangs hit and we sat down for ‘hot pots’… a rotating conveyarbelt of freshness… veg, chicken feet, bamboo, tofu and many other unknown things we added to our boiling hot pot of soup… we attempted to eat this with chop sticks whilst getting to know our hosts and making a mess.

Chicken feet inclusive of claws left mixed reviews “gristly”, “not much meat”, “boney”, “cruchy”, “nice taste but wrong texture” “that mottled effect left a real skin texture in your cheek”… all washed down with duck? Blood!

Full bellies of gorgeousness and we headed back to shower and reflect on our day! 10 super super privileged students on one huge adventure full of joy joys!!

Ps. Put us in for the next Britains got talent… xxx

Dancing on Day Two!

Blog post by Megan Eastwood – 10th June 2019

Off we go!

Welcome to the Edge Hill 2019 Liverpool to Daqing blog!

A journey of smiles, cultures and tasty foods! To begin an introduction to exactly what’s going on.

Edge Hill University has long standing connections with Harbin Medical University, located in North Eastern China, a two hour flight from the capital city, Beijing. To celebrate this connection, yearly 10 students from Edge Hill University travel over to the Harbin Medical University campus located in Daqing.  This is their Story!

We began our journey in Manchester,  half asleep but still excited for the adventure ahead. Unaware that the next 24 hours would be absolutely shattering. We got on the first flight from Manchester to Amsterdam and as we came in to land we were greeted by the most horrific turbulence, with the plane bouncing and shuddering, which was more exciting then mortifying for one of our team whose first ever flight it was!

On our final flight towards Daiqing we were faced with the challenge of our first true Chinese food, Fermented Egg. Left to rot and ferment to perfection, they are then vacuum sealed to provide the customer with a true delicacy. Only one of team had the courage to indulge themselves with this delight and I have been informed that its taste is impossible to put into the words, but it has the ability to make your eyes water and put you off eating eggs for life!

Once we landed in Daqing, after 24 hours of solid travelling, we were greeted with smiles by the guides from Harbin University and the next step of our adventure began…

Off we go!

Blog post by Michael Dobson – 9th June 2019