~ By Tham Ching Yuan, ex-Form 5S1 and SPM 10As student ( 2013 ) ~

Greetings to you from the People’s Republic of China! When I was first contacted via WhatsApp by Ms Woo, my former English teacher to write and share my story and experiences about staying and studying in China, I was thrilled and yet apprehensive at the same time. So, where do I begin?
I am currently studying for my Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree at Guangxi Medical University in Nanning. After having completed my secondary school education at SMJK Poi Lam in 2013, I applied to study medicine at the Guangxi Medical University but surprisingly, I was offered a scholarship by the Guangxi local government. Hence, I left for China in June this year to further my studies there. So, why did I choose to study in China? How is my life as a first year medical student at Guangxi Medical University like?

Now that I am in China and true to what I have researched prior to coming here, I find that the scientific and technological development in China are indeed awesome! What interests me most is that my studies here in China place great and equal emphasis on both western and traditional Chinese medicine. And those were exactly the reasons why I chose to study in China in the first instance.

I was fortunate enough to be offered a five-year scholarship to study at the university. My parents practically pay nothing for my studies here as my scholarship covers everything which includes tuition fees, accommodation, food and a monthly living allowance of RMB1,000 ( approximately RM500 ). A full time fee-paying student will have to spend RM125,000 for the whole duration of this medical course here.

Studying for a medical degree here in China, as compared to many other countries, requires a shorter period of time of only five years for me to graduate. For the first three years, my studies will focus on the theoretical knowledge. Then, for the next two years I will be doing my internship at the First Auxiliary Hospital which is located in the university itself. But that does not mean compromising quality over quantity! With a huge population in China, there is no lack of hands-on learning and teaching as the shortage or availability of human corpses here is not an issue.

The medium of instructions in the university is both English and Chinese. English is widely used and spoken among the locals and eight hundred over foreign students from more than thirty countries here. So, this provides me with more opportunities to speak English here than I used to during my school days in Malaysia. English is an important second language in China. Many students in China have to sit for a lot of exams in English. So, for those of you intending to study in China, it will be a big mistake to think that English is not important and that you only need Chinese to study there. Hence, please take your English lessons in school seriously and make an effort to brush up your English.

It is undeniably true that studying to become a doctor can be tough as you need to put in a lot of hard work memorizing all the medical terms and carrying out medical experiments. Eventually, when you graduate and become a doctor, life can be more challenging as you have to be on call twenty-four hours, deal with different types of patients, perform surgery and carry out medical researches. However, with passion and compassion, all these sacrifices are nothing but doing the best we can as a fellow human beings in helping others who are sick or in need.

Now that I am here at Guangxi Medical University, I find my life as a medical student very interesting as the days go by. I enjoy my Anatomy classes the most. I have to attend two such classes each separately consisting of a theory and an experiment class twice a week. During the experiment classes, the lecturers will first demonstrate all the experiments and mummification of human corpses to us. From such hands-on learning, we gain more in terms of knowledge and experience rather than solely depending on the textbooks and scientific models. All the human corpses used during the experiments are donated by the deceased to the university hospital. Thanks to the donors for being so generous and selfless in their contributions towards medical science.

Life as a university student here in China is not only about studies as ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Since coming to study here, I had joined the International Student Union (ISU) of the university. I am now a member of the ISU Department of Education. We organize a lot of activities and medical seminars for all our union members. Studying here gives me an opportunity to get to know people from all over the world as the international student population here is quite huge. Some of the friends that I have made in the university are from countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, America, United Kingdom and Africa, just to name a few.

It has been five months now that I am here in China. During this short period of my stay, I have participated in some activities and travelled to some beautiful and interesting places here. I took part in a Summer Camp in July. I recently participated in a university badminton tournament and managed to clinch the Women Double runner-up title together with my team mate, Priya who is also an ex-student of SMJK Poi Lam. Last August, I travelled with my friends to visit Guilin where one can get to enjoy the amazing scenic limestone landscape there, some parts of which resemble that of the limestone scenery in my own hometown, Ipoh. I like the weather, cool fresh air and the great variety of delicious food here.

Posing happily for a photo with university friends on a sightseeing trip.

Indeed, there is nothing like an overseas education which is broad-based in every sense of the word as we have to deal not only with our studies but every aspect of our life on our own away from our families and loved ones. In short, we learn to become more disciplined and independent.
Always remember that ‘chance favours only the prepared mind’. So, keep on moving and work hard in your life. Only then, you will have the brightest future in life!
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ISU Women Double Runner-up with Priya, my double badminton partner,
an ex-student of SMJK Poi Lam.
Inside the campus of Guangxi Medical University,Nanning, CHINA.