Lately, I have been reading many articles about which Chinese Medical schools are ranked the highest in the country. I do think it is important to go to a good school but what is more important is to pick the school that fits your style of learning the best. Everyone will have a different experience no matter where they go. Also, remember when it comes to picking a school, ask someone who has graduated already, because the black circles under the eyes of a current student will make you run, even though you really shouldn’t.
When I decided to look into graduate school programs I was shocked to learn that almost all of them are four years. It seemed very long but I thought to myself, if I am going to do this I have to do it now, so I applied. I was a journalist before going back to school, and I knew I could always write but with a masters, I would have an even stronger focus to my writing. I was really excited and ready to go, and during the summer of 2009, I found out that I was accepted to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago. It seemed like the perfect school for me.
All summer long I prepared by reading books about Chinese Medicine but nothing prepared me for the beginning. I did not know that I was essentially learning a brand new language, culture, and a completely new way of thinking. I also forgot what it was like to start somewhere new, without any friends or acquaintances in sight. My only choice was to put on a strong front until I made it to my car to call my mom and cry. I cried that first day, same with the second but it was that third day when everything changed. On my third day of school, I made a friend. She was and will always be my angel in graduate school. I was having trouble remembering a definition in medical terminology, and she turned to me and said something funny to me to help me remember the definition. That one friend helped me relax a little, and after that school started to become much easier for me.
The ironic thing is school taught me that I needed to be more balanced by making me completely unbalanced for about two years. I devoted all my time to school, like anyone else who is in school for Chinese Medicine will do for their first year. However, little did I know that each class was bringing me closer to the balance I needed to fully comprehend all that I was learning in school. Because of graduate school I am now able to use all of those balancing tools in my life.
Throughout school I became more comfortable. I was making more friends and started to understand my classes a little better. I formed a study group with some other women, and I soon realized that I wasn’t alone on this difficult journey. I found out that I chose the right school for me. However, some of my classmates didn’t feel the same way and they transferred. They are still successful because they found a place that allowed them to succeed. There is no shame in finding the perfect school for you.
Graduate school wasn’t all perfect, I didn’t only cry those first two days. I had days where I was completely overworked, exhausted, and on the verge of a meltdown but I persevered because I know that Chinese Medicine is a wonderful tool. Through graduate school I was given the skills to help make people feel better. I am so grateful that I decided on a whim to change my life because it has only made my life more fulfilling. Never be afraid of trying something new. We can always go back if we need to, but when we try something new, we are always moving forward.
Dana Fine, L.Ac.
Editor In Chief