In order to get a working permit in China and receive money from an employer, one must first pass a relevant (???) health inspection. Jackie escorted us on this task yesterday as we traveled to the nearby capital of Henan province, Zhengzhou, and underwent a series of stressful tests. The trip from Kaifeng took a little over an hour and was quite an adventure. On the way, Jackie entertained us by singing songs from his iPod by famous singers such as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, The Beatles, and more. He also expressed his disappointment in Chinese driving skills and showed us a bit of his road rage. (Jackie’s willingness to take on driving challenges is quite impressive).
Upon arriving at the clinic we were told that the health checks we underwent in the U.S. were not acceptable because the clinic could not read them. We therefore began the series of tests again, starting with a color sense test. Marija was the first to step up and look at the book of different colored shapes. The instructions: “Read this” were puzzling, as the book was filled with pictures rather than words. However, Jackie saved us and we managed to muddle our way through the vision test.
Next up was a chest x-ray. Why a chest x-ray is necessary none of us are sure. It was uneventful.
We then moved down the hallway to the E.C.G. check, where the men and the women were split up. We laid down on a table and were connected to an E.K.G. machine, which checked our hearts for any strange spikes. The hairs on my chest proved to be a bit of a problem for the nurse, who had to hold the suction cups in place to get accurate readings. She asked me if I was a teacher, and then giggled that I was too young. One of the nurses told Marlie that she had a good heart.
In the next room we were treated to an ultrasound. The gel was very cold and the woman was incredibly pokey with the device. She told us to breathe deeply, but as the device was rounded I had a hard time not laughing as she poked. I was the only one of our group to have the giggle-fits during the ultrasound.
We had reached the final tests of our inspection. The first part, a blood test, necessitated the drawing of several vials of our blood. Although most people are uncomfortable giving blood I find the process to be oddly cathartic. We survived, albeit with a few tears shed and much fretting. We were then required to submit to a urine test in cups that were tooooooo tiny.
The tests were over and we had survived, but medical procedure in China states that one should not eat breakfast before going to a clinic, and as it was now nearly noon, we foreign teachers were incredibly hungry. Jackie made some phone calls and found a chain restaurant nearby named Awu Meishi (Awu delicious foods). Jackie treated us to a delicious meal including soup, noodles, jasmine buds, and a flakey type of pastry he referred to as su.
The whole ordeal was quite interesting. I am not entirely sure what kinds of tests the U.S. requires upon entry into the country, but the Chinese were quite hospitable and comforting during the inspection. Although I hope to avoid hospitals and clinics for the remainder of my time in China, I must say that I was somewhat impressed with the working conditions in the testing center. Thus far it seems as though China may be trumping Japan in terms of hygiene beliefs and medicine (although the Japanese are much more cleanly and probably have better medicines).
Also, if you missed it, here are some videos I’ve taken in China: http://u.youku.com/user_show/uid_Ran200407