As part of our residence permit applications, my classmates and I have to prove that we don’t have any major illnesses, and to confirm this, we had to go to the hospital and get a thorough (and I mean thorough) medical examination.
We gathered bright and early at 6:30 am outside the dormitory and took a private bus to the hospital (I suppose it was a travel clinic that specialized in exams—no patients were being treated here). There were already a handful of people lined up waiting for doors to open by the time we arrived.
Fortunately for us, the school had made a group appointment in advance, so we were able to get prompt assistance. I was told that my American medical evaluations had no validity here, so I paid my 500 rmb examination fee and received a checklist of stations to go to.
The first was a blood test. Now, I’ve mostly gotten over my fear of needles, but I’m still a terribly difficult person to draw blood from (or so all of my medical providers have told me). I kindly told the nurse this as I sat down, and she stared at me, stuck a needle in, and drew three vials of blood on the first try.
“Please,” she said to me. “We deal with all kinds of ‘difficult’ people here. This is nothing.”
Wow. Okay. Got it.
I was still in awe at smoothly it went when she waved me off with a cotton swab so that she could extract blood from the classmate next to me.
Afterwards, I went through a number of tests: urine, height and weight, blood pressure, among other things. The more interesting ones included an electrocardiogram in which they attached strange things to my arms, legs, and belly. Not sure what it was for.
What I really didn’t understand was why I was also given an ultrasound. I joked with the nurse, saying that I am very confident that I’m not pregnant, but she responded seriously, “You never know until we check.”
I suppose. My results came out as I predicted—I am not pregnant.
Having finished my examination, I waited downstairs in the lobby as my classmates slowly funneled through the lines. I was number 10 in line—someone else was 97. I checked the time. It’d take them at least another two hours.
And with that, I went off to find breakfast. After wandering on the streets for a few minutes, I stumbled across an 85C bakery. Immediately, my thoughts returned to lovely days in California.
I walked in, only to be a bit disappointed. The selection here is vastly inferior to the bakeries in Los Angeles. There were no Marble Taros, no Mango Swirls, no cheesy-potato things. The prices though, were identical, making this the most expensive breakfast I’ve had in China.
I left with $3 worth of bread. The same amount of money would have paid for a nice dinner at the restaurants near campus.
I walked back to the hospital lobby, munching on my bread along the way. Upon arriving, I started coughing. Why did the lobby of a medical facility reek of cigarette smoke?
I traced the stench to the stairwell. Someone was smoking inside despite all of the no smoking signs plastered throughout the building.
Sighing to myself, I sat in the opposite end of the hall and made friends with the other classmates who had finished.
“Are any of you hungry?” I asked.
“No,” one classmate from Holland replied.
Then she saw my bag of pastries.
“Oh my god. There’s an 85C here?!” she jumped up.
“It’s really expensive though,” I replied.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ve been craving it. Can you show me where it is?”
With that, I brought a group of three students to 85C. It was on this trip that I met a few new friends—mostly classmates from the Philippines and Indonesia.