MY LIFE IN CHINA

By Dr. Abid Rashid

Yet another fine morning in Wuhan, and I was going to my hospital. It was a rush in the metro train and no seats were available. There was this old couple, who was struggling for a seat, and I offered them mine. The lovely old couple shared it and thanked me with a warm smile “Xiexie ni!” (Thank You).

“Where are you from?” They asked me. “I am from Kashmir”, I responded. A place never heard by them and often even harder for me to explain. “We do not know this place, where is it?”

“China, I am from China”, I responded again.

Old couple smiled, “Ni bu shi zhong guo ren..! (But you are not a Chinese)”.

I said, “Yeah, but it is my home!”

Truly, looking back at so many years that I have spent in China, I thank God for making China my study destination. It was back in September, 2005 when I first applied to Tianjin Medical University for my medical undergraduate course and since then China has been my first and last love.

Admission Process:
I finished my degree in March, 2011 and qualified Indian medical license examination in first attempt. I got the House Surgeon post in one of the famous hospitals in my home town and I started working for my dream job. My first posting was in NICU (Neonatology Intensive Care Unit). I was able to see those little creatures every day and to manage most of the critical conditions of some extremely rare cases.

Having exposure of the most modern and technical equipments from my hospital back in China, I was able to excel in my field and earn some distinguished certificates and awards back home. All thanks to the most modern and top edge technologies used in China. I must tell you, the infrastructure and the working environment in China is far more superior than most of the countries and it is developing at a tremendous pace.

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As House Surgeon Government LALA-DED Hospital Srinagar, Kashmir, India 2011-2012

After working for some time back in my home town, my love for China and thirst for higher knowledge was making me anxious and restless again. My decision to go back to China for higher studies had many logical and emotional reasons. I knew for sure, that what I can get in a hospital in China, I will never be able to get it from any hospital in Kashmir. So once again my treasure hunt for my higher studies in a medical specialty began. Being aware of the cumbersome admission process, I began to send my applications to many medical universities across China, as expected the response was poor. Getting admission in university of your choice can be a Hercules task. It was CUCAS (China’s University and College Admission System) that came to my rescue. I found this beautiful website with answers to all of my questions. Truly, I am not bragging, CUCAS has done a tremendous job in shaping the future of many students, who want to pursue their studies in China. For those who do not know, CUCAS is the official online portal for international students applying to China’s universities. CUCAS acts as an online support system between international students and China’s universities making this Hercules task look like a cake walk. I must say that the CUCAS team has put tremendous efforts in gathering all the information you might need on any issue regarding course or a university.

By now, you must have figured out (from my posting in NICU) that my field of choice in higher medicine was Pediatrics. One fine morning my lovely wife Kate handed my iPad to me with a beautiful e-mail. It was from one of the distinguished professors from Tongji hospital of HUST (Huazhong University of Science and Technology) reading that He (Professor Luo Xiaoping) has agreed to accept me as his student for Masters. My application was accepted by HUST! Thanks again to CUCAS for providing me all the necessary information about my course in such a beautiful university. Kate was already accepted by Wuhan University for her PhD program in Teaching Chinese to Foreigners. So once again we were ready to pack our bags and to get our feet on streets of yet another new city of China to explore its tradition and culture. I and my wife Kate share a great enthusiasm about China. China has the distinction of being one of the world’s oldest civilizations, its long standing history of culture, civilization and Chinese language itself with its amazing calligraphy takes my breath away. It has always been my deepest desire to write beautiful calligraphic pieces - hanzi (Chinese Characters). My zeal and zest for the Chinese language grew beyond its limits when I met this amazing world famous Chinese calligraphy master and renowned painter Mr.Chen Heliang from Shanghai. Our acquaintance grew beyond artist and art observer. He would often enlighten me with the mastery secrets of his art. Those were days of some real cultural experience. Sometimes I find myself so lost in the beauty of China, that it is hard for me to come back. Even from such a busy schedule from my hospital and university I always find time to go back to learn more of this art. Linguistic art, Shaolin and other martial arts attract so many disciples around the world each year.

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Shanghai 2012, Mr.Chen Heliang and me

Study Experience:
Studying in such a world class university, like HUST, which has a history of its own, makes me feel distinguished at many stages. It is not just the vast campus, which is full with natural beauty with lofty trees, where students relax eating cherries and talking studies, or cafeterias to hangout or study corners to take a deep dive into your favorite novel, or beautiful sports grounds where you play to stay fit, but much more than that. The classrooms have a freshness of their own where you always want to go back to learn something new. Huge libraries with world class literature, well-equipped labs, where you can always experiment your knowledge to its best and above all helping teachers and professors. I found my Professor extremely helpful, who is always willing to help in spite of his busy schedule. I had recently a great opportunity to attend a world class doctors conference of APPES (The Asia Pacific Endocrine Society) on my professor’s recommendation and I learnt so much. Wuhan is located in the center of China and lots of international conferences are held here. Since I joined my Master’s program, I had opportunity to meet a lot of international professors, academicians and scientists, which is really exciting.

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Wuhan, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, APPES conference 2013

(Professor Gabrielle Hausler from Austria and me)

My university has many honorary visiting Professors from various countries. Each day there are many opportunities to attend these conferences, seminars, symposiums and to interact with these distinguished minds in their respective fields. Apart from regular classrooms there is a huge exposure in hospital for clinical and practical knowledge. Same is true for other majors like literature, engineering, computer sciences etc. Teachers dedicatedly teach their subjects. It is easy for the students majoring in Chinese language to grasp concepts than those studying in English medium as the English language is little hard for some of the teachers to express themselves in. There is always a scope to excel in the matter. Autumn here is another season, when every leaf turns into a flower and provides a spectacular view. With fall begins the season of exams in most universities of China. It is important to plan one’s study time from the very beginning of semester and not to defer revision and preparation of your subjects till the end. A proper timetable for studies and recreation from the very beginning can save you from the frustration of exams. Different students have different priorities and different levels of understanding their subject. If we talk about an average student here, who is too much into recreation, dedicates only 4-5 hours for his studies on normal days, he will still find much time for his hobbies like playing, watching movies, gym, socializing etc. and with a little more time spared for studies during exams, he can perform good.

Life experience:
Eating is a vital part of Chinese society. Chinese people like to invite each other for dinners and big feasts. If you have some good Chinese friends, they will always love to invite you to their vital functions and celebrations. On the other hand, those who will like to experience different side of eating in China, street food has much more to offer. You can easily get a decent meal for just few Yuan. My suggestion to the most of the students is to eat food from their college dining halls. As food there is more hygienic and much more cost effective. Cooking your own food is another good choice. Almost every dormitory is provided with good kitchens where you can unleash your “Master Chef” skills. It not only provides you with clean and hygienic food at affordable rates, but also gives you the taste of your home and national cuisines. You can find almost all the international products, spices and other stuff from any nearby supermarket. For Muslim brethren having non-availability of “Halal” (Pure) food ingredients in China is a thing of past. Here halal (Pure) food and ingredients come under “Halal” stamp mentioned in Arabic, as well as in Chinese.

When it comes to shopping, Local Market is the choice. It is not only the best place to buy things, but also to practice your Chinese and to interact with the locals. They will always ask, where you are from, how long you have been studying Chinese and in the end they will definitely compliment you on the remarkable language skills! Even if that is not close to the truth, you have to agree, it boosts your self-esteem! So Chinese people are quite friendly, but you have to be cautious on the market and you should know the average cost of goods, in order to avoid being taken advantage of. One funny story that happened to my wife Kate, when she first came to China, often makes me laugh. She just got off the Airport shuttle bus, which took her from Beijing to Tianjin and was going to take a taxi to go to her university. It was her first time in China and she absolutely had no idea about the rates. So she was standing in the middle of the street with wide-opened blue eyes and taxi drivers immediately surrounded her! “Ni qu nar?” (Where are you going?), “Zou ba!” (Let’s go!), “Wo dai ni qu!” (I will take you there!) Kate’s head was going round and round, taxi drivers were trying to grasp her luggage, but Kate was quite determined; she knew Chinese drivers might deceive her, so she has to bargain! The starting price in Tianjin taxis is 8 Yuan (might have gone up now), so every driver was willing to take this cute student to the place of destination just for the lowest price. But Kate wanted to make sure that they are not cheating on her. To show them that she is an experienced foreigner in the matter of bargaining and said that she won’t go anywhere for more than 5 Yuan. Even passer-by were stopping and joining this heated discussion. Everybody around was laughing. Finally, looking at her determination to bargain and huge luggage to carry for a girl, a kindhearted driver agreed for 6 Yuan, but Kate was true to her price! Taxi drivers started cracking jokes at such a funny and unacceptable price. They totally lost their professional interest in this foreign client and started leaving. Then one passer-by on the motorbike took Kate’s huge red bag and told her to get on the bike, saying not more than that. He took Kate straightaway to Tianjin Foreign Studies University. When she asked him about the charges, he said: “I did it for free! Good luck in your future studies!” So as you can see Chinese people are extremely kind and helpful, besides that, they have excellent sense of humor, and while getting the best deal, try not to overleap yourself! By the way, you should also remember, that the starting price in the taxi varies from city to city: somewhere it is 6 Yuan and in big cities it can even reach up to 12 Yuan!

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Due to busy schedule, my personal shopping choice is taobao. It is an online shopping website, from where I like to buy Kashmiri and Indian spices for cooking, Ukrainian fruit teas and chocolates for my wife. So it is a window to your home products and imported goods, which you can buy at great prices. This shopping website is not only limited to food, you can buy garments, shoes, electronics and almost all the stuff of daily use at much more reasonable rates than market without stepping out. This definitely saves a lot of time! And can save you a lot of money too, if the sellers on this website are open to bargain, which most of the times they are. There are special discount days, like 11th of November (11.11) and 12th of December (12.12), during which some of the items can be bought for half of the price! On other days you just need to use all your charm and basic Chinese language, and be sure to get the best deals, while sitting in your room and sipping a hot cup of tea.

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Most of the universities have made a rule to live in dormitories for at least first few months till you can learn basic communicating Chinese. Once you feel confident, you always have an option to move out and rent an apartment, where you can get all the comfort of home with separate bedroom, kitchen, dining room, bathroom and a balcony. In order to save money, some students rent multi BHK (bedroom, hall and Kitchen) apartments together and share the rent. This is very effective method to have all the luxuries of home within your budget. These apartments are fully loaded with modern equipments necessary for living including a refrigerator, washing machine, geezer, microwave oven, television and high speed internet connection. Internet in China is considered to be one of the best in world where you can watch any youku/youtube video without buffering, no matter how big it is. Once in a while we have dinner together with our families back home! How? By turning on skype or QQ and having teleconference dinners! That way you are never away from your loved ones. Important piece of advice here is to always maintain a good relationship with your landlord/landlady: do not make unnecessary noise and do to disturb your neighbors. Good manners not only reflect your own good image, but also the image of the country you belong to.

China has everything to offer you, it depends on you how you will tap these resources and opportunities. It has definitely offered me a lot. Besides my career and friends, I found love of my life, my better half here in China, which is a great blessing of my life. Together we have travelled a lot and explored wildest possible beautiful places of China. There were so many interesting stories and funny accidents that happened to me and my wife during travelling, it is possible to compile a whole book out of them! I want to share some of the pictures that represent my sweet memories of places we have visited in China. And there is also one special video: when we travelled to Inner Mongolia, we were amazed with the unique and unusual Mongolian house – yurta. One of the locals kindly showed us the interior of yurta and even gave an insight of Chinese culture. Thinking us from some reputed news channel we took the short interview, it was total fun. Hope everybody will enjoy it!

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNjQzNzI0NzI0.html

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Beijing, February 2010 (Friends made me to do this!) 

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Inner Mongolia, February 2010, walking on the frozen lake 

8 Hosting and Organising International Cultutal events ,Tianjin 2007-2011

Author Details:

Name: ABID RASHID (阿贝德)

Present Position: Masters candidate Pediatrics
HUST (Huazhong University of Science and Technology) Wuhan China.

Nationality: Kashmir India.

Special thanks to: Kateryna Zavertailo (My wife) for making this possible.

CUCAS Says: It is honored to be of great help in the journey of Dr. Abid Rashid’s application. From this essay, it can be seen a great enthusiasm and deep affection about the university and also the country. CUCAS is happy to see that our student could live a satisfied life in China and make it a worthy and unforgettable experience. Many tips mentioned in this essay by the author are very useful, any future student could learn from those.