Earning four credits in 18 days might sound masochistic, but a group of students pulled it off this summer while sightseeing in China.

In April, Weber State University’s health sciences program took 33 students to China for a study-abroad trip.

Kristy Layton, a WSU medical laboratory sciences student, said the group spent the first week in Beijing getting used to the culture.

While the students were in China, they visited historical sites and landmarks such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven and the Ming Dynasty Tombs. The group had translators and tour guides to help them navigate the cities and culture.

WSU Health Sciences students flew their colors in China.

After the first week in Beijing, the group traveled to Jiamusi. Layton said this city is smaller than Beijing, but still huge compared to what she’s used to in America.

The students spent a week with Chinese nursing students from the Hei Long Jiang LinYe College of Health Professions to see what their lives are like.

Layton said the nursing program there is five years long and that the students were in class 108 hours per week. She said the students are not generally allowed to leave campus during the week.

“I wouldn’t want to get sick in China,” she said.

The group did see modern technology in the hospitals in China, but Layton said the hygiene practices are not what Americans are used to in health care systems.

“When we went to the hospitals, they weren’t very clean; they had mold on the walls,” Layton said.

Layton said mold wasn’t the only sanitation issue in one particular hospital.

“For little kids in China, they don’t really believe in diapers so much. So they have like this slit from the front and back in the pants and then they just squat on the ground and go when they have to. If you see a puddle on the ground, it’s probably not a puddle.”

Layton said their experiences with sanitation weren’t conclusive of the entire country, as they did not see every hospital in China.

WSU sophomore Angelina Lujan, an applicant of medical laboratory sciences, said she is looking forward to learning more about acupuncture after this trip.

“The difference between Western and Eastern medicine is that the Chinese doctors focus on internal and seek prevention and disruption of qi, and it is up to the patient to follow through therapy to restore qi,” said Lujan in an e-mail interview. “Western diagnosing deals with treating the physical and repairing the human body.”

Lujan she would define qi as the internal force that regulates homeostasis.

Layton said treatments such as acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal medicines are more prevalent in China than in the United States.

“I like that people have that kind of option,” she said. “We have it here, but I don’t think it’s as big. And I don’t really understand how it works, but it seems more healthy, whatever it is.”

Leisa Alsop, a senior in WSU’s dental hygiene program, said seeing these options has opened her eyes to other health care benefits for her patients.

Alsop said the students discussed dental practices with the dentists in Xian, which was the next city they stayed in.

In Shanghai, the last location after Xian, students from the health sciences program gave a presentation to children about oral health. Each child was given toothpaste and a toothbrush.

Layton, Alsop and Lujan all commented on the kindness of the people in China.

“Everywhere we went, we were treated like kings and queens,” Alsop said in an e-mail interview. “I felt guilty most of the time, because I haven’t done anything for them to deserve that kind of respect.”

Alsop said the memory from China that stands out the most to her is the interpreters from Jiamusi.

“Seeing the sights were great, but the friendships are what really stick out in my mind,” she said in an e-mail.

Layton said she wants to work in medical laboratories where she can help people without seeing them in pain as often as nurses do. Alsop said she wants to be a dental hygienist in an office setting. Lujan said she plans on working in pediatrics.

“I love children and helping people, and the idea grew on me that I can change children’s lives,” Lujan said.

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