By Katy TerBerg
Keara Hopkins went to China’s Beijing Language and Culture University to further her education in a global way, but while there, unexpectedly learned a life lesson.
“One of the best things I learned from my study abroad to China was how to take care of my health. While there, I lost somewhere between 30 and 50 pounds,” said WMU alum Keara Hopkins, who earned her Bachelor’s in Global and International Studies in 2011. Hopkins spent a year studying abroad in Beijing.
“When we think of Chinese medicine, the first thing that people think of is a man in a room filled with the smell of incense,” said Hopkins.
“In reality, I found myself in a smog-filled city. People walked around in masks if the smog was bad enough; other times the masks were used by cooks and hospital workers. They didn’t always look like plain hospital masks. Lots of times, they had Hello Kitty, or a popular Chinese cartoon character, Xi Yang Yang,” she said.
After some time in Beijing, Hopkins and her friends bought 10 sessions with a personal trainer at the on-campus gym. While the gym looked like any gym you would find in America, the trainer, Dave, was brutally honest, criticizing her weight and appearance without reservation.
”It’s important to understand that Dave wasn’t saying any of this to insult me or belittle me. To him, this was just another fact. No need for him to use any tact…bluntness is widely accepted in Chinese culture,” Hopkins explained.
In addition to Hopkins’ interest in fitness, she developed a fascination for acupuncture and visited a Chinese doctor who practiced Traditional Chinese medicine. “He thought I was extremely cold and needed not only acupuncture but another treatment that I called the fire-stick. I decided to try it for weight loss. He suggested for the best results, I come in three times a week for both treatments,” she said.
“With this adventure in health, I learned quite a bit,” said Hopkins. “I learned as much about health and fitness in that one year in China as I learned in my classes.”
WMU Study Abroad