Conversations with Doris: Dynamic China
China: Past, Present and Future
In this series, we share conversations with Doris Rathgeber, founder of Body & Soul – Medical Clinics. Doris came to China more than 20 years ago. During her time here, she has completed her Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) training, started Body & Soul, and helped thousands of patients from all over the world. Meanwhile, she and her husband began their family here and have embraced life in Shanghai. Today, she shares some of her thoughts on life in China and its past, present and future.
What are the keys to happiness in Shanghai?
The most important thing to me is family time. We’ve made our home cozy and I just love spending time there with my husband, son, and our five cats and two dogs. We enjoy traveling together and exploring the hidden treasures in Shanghai. I also love exercising: Pilates on the reformer, yoga, running in Century Park or biking with my husband. Just like anywhere else, one needs balance. Maybe this is even more important in ever-changing, fast-paced Shanghai.
For any expat, I think it’s essential to make yourself at home here and to nurture your relationships. We consider this our home and have a hard time imagining life anywhere else after being in this vibrant city. Even if your stay is short, you want to feel comfortable and surround yourself with things that make you content. Take advantage of your time here, make connections through different groups and activities, learn new things and try to build bridges between the cultures.
Staying healthy is also vitally important. Exercise helps both the body and mind. China’s a great place to incorporate some of the wisdom of Eastern medicine and traditions. With a healthy foundation, you can withstand the stressors of Shanghai.
What have been some of your favorite adventures in your time here?
Well, the biggest adventures have definitely been running Body & Soul and starting our family. China is the place that allowed me to fulfill a long-forgotten dream of becoming a doctor. And, I feel so proud of the four clinics and the strong team we’ve built. Of course, raising our son has been our greatest gift and adventure.
I’ve also been fortunate to have many exciting opportunities and the chance to meet wonderful people. We’ve seen beautiful and fascinating places traveling around China. Some of my favorites include Beijing, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yangshuo and Hong Kong.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in China?
I’ve witnessed the revival of the society and the individual. When we arrived, the city would be empty by 7 PM and people were still wearing Mao suits. There was a feeling of insecurity. Now, Shanghai is once again so vibrant and international. And, the people’s natural openness and curiosity thrives. Of course, this is such a dynamic country that we’ve witnessed innumerable changes throughout the years.
How has Shanghai’s expat population evolved?
When we arrived, those that had been here were generally adventurers or entrepreneurs. Around 2000, large companies were bringing people here who did not expect a foreign lifestyle but embraced the adventure. Lately, it seems more expats are coming on their own because they hear Shanghai’s a great city, want an adventure or have an interest in China and want to study Chinese. There’s a pretty diverse expat population, in terms of country of origin, family situation, interests and more. You can find others who share commonalities with you. And, you can branch out to make interesting, new friends from different backgrounds.
What is one wish you have for China?
I’d like to see the society continue to open up. I hope the country can get pollution under control and take care of the lives of the people. I also would love to see people rediscovering more of their traditional values, which sometimes get lost as things change so rapidly.
Doris founded Body & Soul 15 years ago with the effort to treat patients holistically. Body & Soul combines Eastern medicine and Western science to provide the most natural, effective health solutions in four convenient locations throughout Shanghai. Services offered are covered by insurances and include TCM and acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, physical therapy, psychological counseling, podiatry and functional medicine among others. Feel free to get in touch with us to schedule an appointment. Follow us on Wechat for more health and wellness tips!