Hang-en cave

Hang-en cave
(credit: National Geographic)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Well, here we are again: a new adventure.

Hi friends,

I'm back! I've done a terrible job keeping up with this, but I suppose it's in keeping with the title. Hooray for discontinuous posting!

For those of you returning, you might notice two big changes. I originally had the intention of keeping this blog up once I got back from Germany in 2010, but alas, it was not to be, and now it's a travel blog! I got caught up in classes and friends and all sorts of other shenanigans and now here we are. One is the background; I thought this one was prettier than the color blocks I had before while still fitting with the subject matter  I've left the map of Bonn up for nostalgia's sake, even though there will be posts about another country coming soon (but more on that later). The other big change is the blog link: it's now notonlyapage.blogspot.com. I came across a quote by Saint Augustine, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page." It seemed to fit quite well, and so I borrowed it for the link. Looking back on past adventures, some of my pages will probably be a little bit too interesting for comfort, but oh, well. C'est la vie.

So, whirlwind update on life since the last time I posted. I made it safely back from Germany (surprising to some, given a few of my hairier stories from Bonn), graduated from college, traveled to Honduras twice, landed my first real-person job, and returned to Germany with a side-trip to Austria. And, in a few short weeks, I'll be off on my first adventure to Asia! My boss here has a second lab in Shanghai, China, and every year he asks one or several of the older students to go with him for a summer visit. This summer, I got picked! And, more than that, we'll be taking fifteen undergraduate students with us as part of a global health trip. It's going to be quite the interesting experience; not only because it's going to be such a change from countries I've visited before, but the experience that I'm trying to get out of it (a public health perspective, rather than a tourist or student one) is extremely different. Not to mention the position of authority! I've been mostly planning the trip, from where we're staying to the assignments the students have, and I can't tell you how simultaneously stressful and fun and joyful that's been. It's been sort of a logistical nightmare, with everything from trying to find places for 17 people to stay to worrying about the new H7N9 flu to the 16 hours during which I thought I lost a student's passport, and I've gotten to be an expert at dealing with the visa office at the Chinese consulate. Oh, and did I mention I don't speak a word of Mandarin? But as far as the fun goes, over the past few years I've been slowly starting to realize just how vast the realm of healthcare is, and slowly cultivating a love for public and global health. I still want to be a doctor more than anything, but I'm excited to be able to learn and teach a broader view of healthcare at the population and community level.

This certainly isn't the longest trip, but I'm sure it's going to be one of the most interesting trips I've ever taken. I'm having the students keep journals to process what they've seen and track how their perspectives change over the two weeks in China, and this will be sort of my outlet to do the same, as well as keep track of all the memories. Be prepared for some crazy stories and some more thoughtful posts, and definitely for lots and lots of pictures (TWO memory cards!).

I'll post more details in a few days on public health in China, as well as the answers to "Hey, wait! I want to see you before you leave! How do I do that?"  and "What about while you're in China?" Stay tuned! Plus, how to keep Allison entertained on a 15-hour flight. It will involve lots of books, music, and perhaps some 15th century Flemish portraiture.

Countdown: T-15 days. I'm heading home on the 9th, and officially flying out on the 10th to spend a few days in Xiamen. I'll meet the students over the weekend in Shanghai and we'll continue on to Beijing from there.

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