For a month I murmured “Ni hao ” (Nee haow) and “Xie xie” (Shi-e Shi-e) to workers at markets, taxi drivers, and other strangers. Hello and thank you got me by in a country I never thought I would step foot in, China.
How I wound up in China was by my dream to study abroad somewhere, anywhere. I knew during college was a great time to leave the country. With being a student, financial aid and scholarships were available to me and I did not have much commitments.
My study abroad program:
Chinese Culture, Arts, Design and Feng Shui, China, Summer, 2012 (May 24 to June 19)
Design-Related International Experience (4 credits)
My program was led by a design professor; this professor grew up in China and frequently visits his parents there. I found out about the program through another design professor that taught the design course called “Human and Environment Interactions” I took in fall 2011.
We started in Shanghai, a city equivalent to New York City, to get acquainted with China. We then took a day trip to Suzhou to walk through traditional Chinese gardens. Our next stop was Taizhou, where we were escorted and treated to one fancy, over-the-top meal to the next. We spent the remaining of the trip in Beijing to sight-see and shop (way north on the map, not pictured).
I have been asked what caused my case of ulcerative colitis by a lot of people, and I have questioned it a lot myself too.
Q: Did you get ulcerative colitis because you went to China?
A: No, I did not get ulcerative colitis because I went to China. There is no known cause of ulcerative colitis.
More in depth A: The inflammation of IBD is thought to come from three factors interacting together: genes, the immune system, and something in the environment. A person’s immune system gets turned on and starts attacking the lining of the colon for ulcerative colitis sufferers and any part of the digestive tract wall for crohn’s sufferers. It is unpredictable when the immune system will turn off and sometimes unstoppable, where surgery is required.
I did run into what I think was traveler’s diarrhea on my fourth day in China. I went diarrhea once and threw-up a couple of times. After that first day of sickness abroad, I went to the bathroom normally. I came home and felt fine until I was bewildered about the white mucus in July.
Even if I did not go to China, I would have had to come down with ulcerative colitis at some point in my life…I’m predisposed to it in my genes…I have a hunch that my condition snowballed so much because of the infection the antibiotics gave me…I will never know for sure…I am okay with not knowing the cause now, now that my colon is out, because I am no longer at risk for colon cancer!