China: A journey of growth and self realization
I've always wanted to be a doctor. Doctors cultivate the nation; enhance quality of life; soothe and alleviate the suffering of fellow human beings; and, ultimately, contribute to the success of our generation as well as generations to come. The People's Republic of China has given me the phenomenal opportunity to study in their country.
Thejal (Zeya) Singh
China has graceful landscapes. It is a country tied to its prosperous culture and ancient tradition. From the imperial treasures and archetypal Chinese gardens in Beijing to the cosmopolitan streets and magnificent, polychromatic skyscrapers in Shanghai, China is a scintillating fusion of old meets new.
Being an international medical student in such a wonderful place compels me not only to study with utmost dedication, but also to explore China's spectacular traditional culture. Living in China, I am able to relish famous Chinese delicacies like sweet and sour chicken, kung pao chicken, mapo tofu, dumplings, spring rolls, chow mein and Peking duck. Visiting historical places like the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Baotu Spring Park, Quancheng Square, and Qianfoshan (Thousand-Buddha Mountain) provides one with a fascinating insights to China's heritage.
My favorite form of exploration is engaging in a Mandarin conversation with Chinese people. It helps me improve my language skills. Listening to tales about riveting Chinese lifestyles is no less than an educational tour. They are so dedicated, punctual and focused. They take everything in stride with a smile, and no task is impossible for an inhabitant of China!!! There is so much to grasp from the Chinese. Being surrounded by such positive mindsets is sure to have a positive influence on my mindset too. The good-heartedness of Chinese friends is clearly reflected in their actions. No one's pleas fall on deaf ears in the presence of a Chinese person because they are always there to be pillars of strength and lend a helping hand. I guess it's the warmth of the people that acts as a blanket and actually protects me from frosty desolation and a parade of glacial, melancholic thoughts.
What I really like about China is that it doesn't restrict us to mingling with Chinese only. Living as a foreign medical student in the dormitory provides us with exposure to other foreigners too! We are granted yet another opportunity to learn about the intriguing cultures, enchanting values and mouthwatering cuisines of people from regions like India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana, Australia and South America. We all come from different walks of life, but living in the very same dormitory has created a bond between us, almost as if the dormitory is our home and all its inhabitants are members of our family. That's how strong our relationship has become! If someone is in trouble, we all stand united to help the person. We host spicy kitchen discussions while cooking and washing dishes. Significant conferences in our attenuated corridor, confabulating about our daily lives and inventing profitable study strategies are everyday episodes in our dormitory. We even have a reel of scary, spine-tingling horror movie nights in which we all become gigantic, automatic popcorn-consuming machines!!!
On special occasions, like birthdays, we would all get together and have a midnight pajama party. Celebrations didn't just end on birthdays though. We may be away from home but our tradition, culture and values remain unflinchingly intact. With a tenacious willpower and a vigorous support system, we were able to host magnificent celebrations for two of our most beloved festivals back home, Diwali and Christmas. Our enthusiasm ensured successful celebrations! Not only did we pay homage to our own heritage while staying in China, but we also learned to embrace Chinese culture as well. Many of the international students celebrated the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival by tasting scrumptious moon cakes and sipping tea the entire day.
As international medical students, our fun didn't just end in the dormitory though. Cracking hilarious jokes during lectures, playing games, laughing outrageously when rehearsing Mandarin dialogues, and resorting to McDonalds and Pizza Hut to fill our bellies were the most common ways international medical students passed the time. However, despite all the fun, attending lectures and studying with commitment, diligence, perseverance and persistence was still a priority!!! We often participated in group dissections and experiments together, and we always worked together to bring out the best results. Working as a group allowed knowledge to spread like wildfire and created unity among the students. It also built stronger relationships amongst peers. Studying in China has indeed taught me so many essential life lessons in such a limited period of time! Grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes, laundry, attending lectures, doing homework and studying, that's the life of an international medical student in China. It's a life I love living as it gives me an identity and provides me with a sense of achievement, a feeling of pride!
Living in China has transformed me from a little, naïve girl who only knew how to study into an independent, young lady who can multitask and handle just about any situation. We all have goals, but not many people accomplish those goals in their lifetime because they simply lack discipline. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Living away from home surely has taught me discipline. It has also taught me independence, the most important component in a freshly-molded adult's life.
I came to study in China with a dream of adorning the white coat profession but thus far, I've gained much more than just medical knowledge. It's been a journey of self exploration and an invigorating excursion of self-fulfillment. Studying medicine is my ultimate dream, but my life now as an international medical student in China is something I could have never possibly dreamt of. I just want to embrace every moment of this beautiful experience and capture it in my heart forever. This has been the most fascinating chapter of my life, and all the credit goes to my loving parents for helping me unlock my dream of becoming a doctor!!!
The writer is Thejal (Zeya) Singh, a second year international medical student studying in the School of Medicine, Shandong University
Source: China Daily Shandong Bureau