I’ll begin by saying, perhaps unsurprisingly, that I really love being a podiatrist - but I would also like to add that I wasn’t always one.
In fact, I have actually come on a long journey - in a number of senses - in order to get from where I started off to where I am today.
I was born in The Republic of China (R.O.C.), a small island nation 180km east of Mainland China. The R.O.C. is a developed country of just over 23 million people and is made up of a highly urbanised coastline that surrounds a dramatically mountainous centre.
As I got older though, this idea did develop and change a little, into my wanting not to be a school teacher as such but rather a teacher at a university. I would still get to be a teacher though and so it was that I embarked at the age of 19 upon a very long and sustained period of education in order to eventually become an academic and university lecturer.
As for what to become a lecturer in, that also seemed not too difficult to decide. I had always been interested in human beings, how they lived, worked and interacted with each other, so I chose sociology as my subject and began my first degree in it. It was the late 1990s by the time I graduated and, looking back now, I remember noticing that there was a lot of discussion in the media about the rise of various religious cults that had sprung up around the world at that time. I have to say that I was fascinated to know why people were drawn to these curious religious movements.
As a result of my fascination, I decided that this should become the focus of my sociology studies and so I studied further to become a specialist in the field. Since at that time the sociology of religion was not a well-established subject in the R.O.C., I decided to come to the U.K. to further my education in the area. As a result, I gained a second master’s degree, followed by a doctorate, all as part of my research into these religious movements. Of course, this must seem very far away from my being a podiatrist in the U.K. today. However, it was this first course of study that would indirectly end up leading to the other.
In part, this was because studying in the U.K. was such a great life experience for me. It not only changed me on an intellectual level but also on a personal one, as I met my husband whilst here and got married following the completion of my doctorate. Up to this point, I had always thought that I was an academic person and would carry on doing research and lecturing for the rest of my life. However, after getting married, having two children and staying at home to bring them up until school age, I found that spending my time writing academic papers in the abstract intellectual world of academia began to lose its appeal for me.
Instead, I found increasingly that I wanted to do something more practical, something that involved helping people in their daily lives and something that could give me a genuine, day-to-day feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. When I thought about how to do this, working in a medical profession seemed to me the most appealing and logical choice and so I decided to retrain as a podiatrist. The idea of being able to understand patients’ conditions, of being able to make an independent diagnosis and deliver an appropriate treatment really struck a chord with me - and once I began to retrain and to treat patients, it was clear to me that I had made the right choice; this was a far more satisfying and meaningful experience than my academic work had ever been for me.
At the end of my training, I achieved a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in Podiatry, which made me very happy. Although it had taken me a long while to understand what I really wanted to do in my professional life, I was finally there. And as I now get to do what I really love every time I go to work, I think it was well worth the journey.
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