It’s funny how 3 years have gone by already and I still feel like I’m so new to here; Guangzhou and Sun Yat Sen University of Medical Sciences. I need Fresher’s Party for the new students every year to remind me of where I once stood and where I’m standing now. However hard indeed it might be to believe, but I’m certainly a changed person since I travelled to China for my first year in October 2011. Somehow I would consider the whole process as a journey, not only in the educational field but for myself. Life has offered me this one opportunity to take on this journey, to pursue medical studies which have always been my passion and above all to develop my personality and perspective about many more things higher than knowledge and I invite you to dwell on these last 2 years with me.

Time machine is now moving back in time and we finally reach the year 2011; a crucial year for my life. After getting my Cambridge Higher School Certificate (A’Level) in February, came the big question; what next? My family was aware of my aspiration of wanting to be a doctor so very supportively we started looking for medical universities. A very long search indeed which included Google and attending so many overseas education fairs and finally with the help of CUCAS online I was able to focus more on the universities in China. I also started seeking help from those overseas agencies and they were helpful in explaining more about the basic information such as tuition fees, accommodation and other facilities. Meanwhile I also sent direct applications to some universities after obtaining their emails from the Internet.

Since my parents liked Guangzhou best because of numerous relatives going there for business purpose but mainly because I suffer badly from airsickness and would not bear to take several flights to reach my destination, I looked up for the universities there. Southern Medical University, Jinan University and Sun Yat Sen University figured on that list. CUCAS had a grading system allowing me to know which one was better, Southern Medical University had a B grade as well as Jinan University while Sun Yat Sen University had an A grade and was the 5th best ranking university in China. Everyone wants the best so excitedly I started looking for more information about this Sun Yat Sen University on CUCAS but was soon to be very disappointed as its enrollment was only for Chinese Medium! That was April 2011.

I still tried my luck with all the universities and sent my applications through the overseas agencies and I was happy to be accepted by almost all of them except for Huazhong University of Science and Technology. But I still somehow could not get over Sun Yat Sen University so I always used to check in case there would be enrollment for English Medium. I kept my faith and it did not disappoint me at all. In May 2011 as I was checking for Sun Yat Sen University again, I could not actually believe my eyes when I saw they were enrolling English Medium students. I did not waste a minute in calling one of the agencies, Mauritius Campus Abroad and asked them about it and they double checked it for me and sent my application. I received my admission letter within two weeks. I was definitely heading for Sun Yat Sen University!

MRU Campus Abroad did a smooth job and handled all the paperwork and all I had to do is pay the registration fee and tuition fees. The agency even offered Chinese lessons in the meantime. I used to attend them but I was not much interested at the time. After reaching China, I understood that my first year will consist mostly of Chinese study. That was a bit hard to digest at first but once we started with the classes, I found it interesting since my teacher; Chen Laoshi had a very good approach. Soon I found myself mastering the tones and pinyins, practicing writing the characters everyday and it was no more that hard. I understood that to learn Chinese I just had to practice characters for the writing part and I should not be shy at all to try speaking in public, something that I was very reluctant to do because I just felt people would just burst out laughing at my mistakes. Lack of confidence at the time but now I eventually got over it.

Where’s the fun of medical studies without human anatomy?! None I guess. That is probably the hardest subject I’ve encountered till now; Intriguing but hard. Too much to learn, too much to memorize and too much to understand! Personally I did not enjoy this class as I was expecting. Somehow I felt that an exciting subject like anatomy deserves exciting explanations with exciting PPTs but I was quickly bored with my class. My teacher’s English was pretty good but I felt so crammed under all the explanations. Four continuous periods on each and every detail of, for example, cranial nerves! That was one of my difficult phase because I felt I was under lots of pressure and sometimes it’s just too much! However we used to have quizzes every week and the teacher gave us group presentation to prepare, that was fun! I found myself understanding my subject better. One good way of studying which always work for me is to master a topic and then try to explain it to someone else and it’s a big bonus if I can answer all of the person’s questions. I tried it several times with my roommate or friends, and fortunately till now it never failed me!

This year, which is my 3rd year, we’re tackling more practical in Microbiology and Immunology and I find this effective. I’ve always been more a practical person than a theory one. Finding myself actually doing experiments give me far much satisfaction and understanding. However we won’t be tested on those practicals but on the theory. With exams just behind the door, I believe that a “prophylactic” approach would be the most appropriate. Just like in health care we use the term prophylactic care to describe an illness which can be treated by taking advance medication, I would like to think we can do the same with studies. Study in advance so that we are not under pressure with too much cramming later because with subjects like Physiology, Biochemistry and Immunology, we risk long nights of sleep deprivation if we start too late on them and I’m saying this from experience. Some of my friends have a really good habit of reviewing everything they do in class on the same day because the explanation is still fresh; all there is to do is to engrave it a little more in our memory so that it does not go anywhere!

Guangzhou, being a contemporary rising society, as well as commercial holds a high standard of living. Off campus accommodations are expensive and that’s why I personally chose to live on the campus. Campus life is simply great! Sun Yat Sen University of Medical Sciences campus may not be as big as the other campuses but is located in a highly advantageous place, which is right in the centre of Guangzhou’s busy life! With all facilities such as banks, metro stations, shopping centre just 15 minutes away, it can be very helpful and not at all tiring! My favorite part is that my dormitory is just 5 minutes walk from the teaching building so it’s easily accessible and minimizes the chance of students being late to class but we still see some sleepyheads sprinting to class every morning anyway. Moreover if we exit from the east gate of the campus, we enter a road filled with food shops some of which open till very late or are even 24 hours accessible, stationery shops and fruit shops. I still remember I used to call that road “The Road of Death” in the first year because of the weird smell but now I’m perfectly immune to it.

But never once did I regret my choice of living on the campus, because when I came to Guangzhou in the first year, I came with the least of expectations for the accommodation facilities so that I was not about to be disappointed later. I was more than glad when I saw a big room, with all basic furnitures such as study desk, chairs, beds and wardrobes and well maintained. Even though I had to share it with 2 other girls at that time, it was still satisfactory for me for I had enough space for myself. One year later I changed to another room in the lower floor and luckily got only one roommate. The international student dormitory consists of 8 floors and no lift. My friends who live in the upper floors dread a lot when they come back after vacations mainly because it can be exhausting to carry 40kg of luggage till the upper floors and while helping them out, I would feel that I must have surely lost my lungs somewhere between ground floor and the upper floors! In other words, I’m grateful to be living in the second floor.

The main reason I’m happy to stay in the dormitory is because of the communication. Communication between students and administration, students and teachers and students and students! Living in the dormitory makes me feel belonged to the university because that’s where everyone else is. It’s nice after a long day in class, to come back and learn that there’s someone’s birthday later and friends put their heads together to plan for a surprise for the person. It feels like a little timeout out of the routine and occasions like this gives us courage to go through the day. Sometimes at night friends will just organize spontaneous outings to bowling or barbecue and we all gather and go together because the fun lies in the togetherness. Moreover any information coming from the administrative office is always pasted in the reception of the dormitory so I’m always aware of what’s happening at anytime. Above all I feel very secure in the dorm because I know I’m surrounded by friends and anytime I’m sick or need help, all I have to do is give them a shout and they will be here in jifty! Socialization is an important factor in a student’s life because alone we are here so we always need someone to have our back and unless we communicate with others, there’s no other way of having people to get your back!

Medicine for me is a noble profession and which demands great respect from the society. Someone dedicating 6 years of her life to be able to treat and look after the ill is surely a serious business. Some do it for money, some do it because of parent’s pressure and some just do it out of sheer compassion for humanity. Travelling 10 hours from my country to China to seek that knowledge is a sacrifice for me because in order to follow my dream I have to leave my family behind and go forward. As I came to China, I was accompanied by expectations; expectations about the level of education. Indeed my university is filled with the technology required for any of my understanding but sometimes it’s hard to hide my disappointment at the language barrier and lack of enthusiasm. Everyone does their very best to teach and to learn and it’s not an easy task. But I’m hoping that things which are at their best will remain at that level and others with lacking will surely improve with time.

On a concluding note, I do wish to express my gratefulness for being given the chance of discovering myself more as I go through the medical years and at the same time given the occasions on achieving more whether in academic field or sports field and learning how to balance the all the pieces. If I have to narrate, I’ll keep on narrating but fortunately we have a word limit! Studying in China will be my life’s greatest conquer and this reminds me of a quote from a great personality from my religion which is Islam and which says, “Seek knowledge, even if you have to go as far as China to do it”.

 

Author Details:

NAME : RAMBOCUS RUKSHARE

NATIONALITY : MAURITIAN

UNIVERSITY : SUN YAT SEN UNIVERSITY

MAJOR : MBBS