The idea of foreign students opting for medical in China is daunting. Sure, it may sound not very interesting. A day in the life of a typical medical student in China isn’t exactly what you would think it is—having to live on coffee and only having money to afford dinner every once in a while. Moreover, having to run from class to class every day is not fun by any means. Homesickness is also a huge factor—the urge to drop out any day is real.
However, there was a certain charm to this life. It may be just my nostalgia talking here. But there were genuine moments of happiness when I was a medical student living in China.
You would think living and studying in China is a dream come true. Breaking news: it is. The freedom of finally being on your own and rubbing shoulders with future doctors, nurses, and people of interest are a couple of reasons. It’s all very appealing. This sort of life does allure many people, myself included. When I got my acceptance letter, I could not wait to go out there and make my own life.
Hence, this post will dive into the idea of the lifestyle of a typical medical student in China.
The Mornings: Towns and Bargains and Medical in China
Every day I would wake up before my alarm clock rang. I would first take a walk around the campus, taking in the scenic views. The fresh air was what got me going. The mornings were an excellent time to get my priorities right for the day. I would also make a to-do list of all the work that needed to be done.
I would then take my morning classes in their entirety. If my day's schedule permitted, as it often did, I would head on to the nearest town. I would spend most of our afternoon break just going about the small town there. I would visit the market place buy anything I found interesting. Then, I would bring out my newly-learned Mandarin to haggle with the local peddlers. Aware that they were laughing at my accent and dialect, I did not let this stop me. They were an excellent form of practice, after all. Being medical student in China, I wanted exposure to everything.
When I was done and dusted with the verbal battles, I would return to the campus for our afternoon classes. I would bring out all the new words the peddlers had taught me here. Often, these words were so vulgar and inappropriate that I noticed my teachers did raise an eyebrow or two.
The teachers were amiable. It just so happens that once, we were given a frog to dissect. I remember one of our teachers electrocuted the legs of the frog and made it seem like it was dancing while lying down. I still remember it vividly-- like yesterday.
Late Afternoons at Local Cafés
When our classes were over in the evenings, my friends and I would often venture out of campus. We loved exploring new places and found the campus to be a tad bit boring. This thirst for adventure would often land us in cafés and sweet shops.
China is the land of tradition. You cannot find anyone there who does not know their family's culture or heritage. For this reason, my friends and I could enjoy the most sumptuous delicacies. Moon cakes, stinky tofu, and ramen were excellent street food choices. They were reliable and easy on the pocket as well.
However, whenever we wished for a change of pace or to shake things up, we visited one of the local cafes. These cafés were the epitome of comfort and style. So, they were designed to look like a very spacious lounging room. All of them had carpets, comfortable chairs and settees, and tables. In the early 2010s working in cafés was the new “thing” that people did. So, naturally, we would bring our books, laptops, and chargers and work there while having a cup of coffee. That is-- if our wallet’s allowed us to do it.
Evenings as a Medical Student in China
After returning from the town, we would all return to our rooms to unwind. I was a big fan of this part of the day and would just come home and land flat on the bed. I would let the long day I had melted away as I buried my head in my bed. A nap was taken here, too, if I had the time. Medical in China was no joke.
After this rest, I would head on down over to the cafeteria, where we would have our dinners served to us. These dinners were almost unreal. Authentic Chinese food is all within our reach. I would gorge down on crispy potstickers and soup dumplings. The chicken noodle soup we had every other day tasted fresh and rich with chicken broth. There were always fresh vegetables cut and served as a side dish or included in a salad. Medical in China may be draining, but I always made time for fresh veggies.
For sweets, we would wait tirelessly for the change of the seasons. This was because every season would bring us new fruits to eat. Spring would bring fresh melons and lychees. Summer would be the season of crisp apples, while Autumn promised figs and dates. Finally, winter would bring the juiciest oranges and pears. These were a treat every few months that we could not wait for.
Dinners were also a perfect time to catch up with fellow students. We often talked about the exams approaching and the quizzes we would have to give soon.
A brief walk for digestion followed dinner. After the walk, we would all say our goodbyes and head back to our dorms for some well-deserved sleep.
Conclusion: Medical in China
Spending almost a decade in China gave me a lot of vital insight. It helped shape me into the person I am today, and I will forever be grateful for it. I would wake up to the people, the food, and even the landscape in the morning. It was all too good to believe!
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Edited by: Syed Umar Bukhari.