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My Life in China

I'm DIALLO, a PhD student at Central South University, Changsha, Hunan Province, China. I have been in China for 3 years and I am working on HIV at the Second Affiliated Xiangya Hospital, at the department of infectious diseases in the AIDS clinic.


Study in China and everywhere in the world is something wonderful but requiring many efforts.
First of all, what every student should have in mind is that nothing is easy and that every success requires a minimum of sacrifice. In my concern, these sacrifices are of three categories.

The language

In china and in all over the world, if one wants to have success easily, he or she should at first master the language spoken in his/her locality where he/she studies. The language is the tool of communication, and it is the main key that helps you open all the doors you need and find out what you are looking for. Mastering the language helps you to read and understand, to communicate with others, to ask questions when you don’t understand. It enables you to communicate with your friends, your teachers, your supervisor and anybody else very conveniently. But the problem is how to master a language such as “Chinese, the most difficult language in the world” within 6 to 8 months. That’s a big deal!

How to deal with the language?

Chinese is the most difficult language in the world, which is clear and nobody doubts. But is it a reason enough to be discouraged? I don’t think so! The most difficult thing in the world is the lack of perseverance. “If there is a will, there is surely a way”. Then try to find out your way and you will see everything will be so easy.

For my case, I first decided to attend the courses proposed by the school every day, and participated in many activities with Chinese students. After classes, I used to go out and talk with my Chinese friends although my Chinese was very poor; I could just say “ni hao, dui bu qi, wo ting bu dong”. Luckily, I was not ashamed of my poor Chinese and my friends were open and could understand me. Generally Chinese people are very open and offer you a good environment to practice your language.

For me, it’s important to remember at any instant that my future success depends on my ability of talking with others, making yourself understood, and defending my opinion when I don’t agree. Therefore, I have no reason to be shy. Try your best right here! Right now! Action!

Keep talking, asking, watching movies, listening to the Chinese music, and making many friends. Practice Chinese writing through SMS, e-mail and so on.

Seize any opportunity that offers you to master yourself. Never give up, step by step you will master yourself in Chinese and you will see that many doors will open to you.

I always remembered that my unique objective was to understand and make myself understood. Of course I met many misfortunes, but I saw and heard only those I thought were important, and the other I did not care.

Another big problem was the fact that the Chinese we learned in the class was totally different from the professional Chinese we used when talking about medicine, computer science, or else. When I started my major courses, I thought I’d never learned Chinese before. The first year was a hell, in which I was discourage, demoralized, even hopeless and wanted to go back home. But I kept on reading night and day, translating by means of my dictionary, asking and asking. Finally, I could understand everything, Molecular biology, Epideiology, Biochemistry, Molecular virology, etc.

Of note: You have to make more efforts in your professional Chinese, I mean some key words concerning your major (Physics, chemistry, Medicine, computer and so on.)

Advantages of mastering the language

In your daily life: Your communication with your friends, your classmates, and the common people when you go outside during your daily activities will be very easy and you will have fun.

Other advantages is that you will never get lost, anywhere, anytime and your will have more and more friends and you will not be cheated on the road.

In my studies: I could understand almost all the teachers in spite that they didn’t speak a standard Chinese. China has many dialects and teachers when speaking have accents of their local dialects, which makes things more complicated.

With my supervisor: The communication with your supervisor is something of great importance because you two decide what to do together. If your Chinese is not very good, then you have a serious big problem. He does not understand what you want to do and you don’t understand what he wants you to do. If you choose a topic which is not a priority in your country, then you will have a problem to find a job once back home.

However, if you solve this problem earlier, you can sure that you will successfully do all your studies or research without any problem. If you have to walk in lab, do your best to be there every day at 8: 00 a.m. and afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

Having my own plan of study

Always have your own plan of study and do not let or allow anyone to disturb it, though you are friends. In my concern, it was the only way to use my time in a right way: do what I have to do on time and in time, and have more free time, because time goes fast and nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. Therefore, for me, my objective is to try my best to do everything I can do today and never put off until tomorrow what I can do today. Sometimes even though I know I’m free tomorrow, I prefer to finish what I can today.

Daily planning

Nobody is a robot and wants to have a robot life, but it’s important to know that having a good planning in one’s life is the key to success. So try to plan your life as much as you can and think about everything before it arrives. “As a common saying goes: A man must always think about his life before he lives it, otherwise, he is a just an animal.”


Everyday I’m in the lab from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and sometimes because of experiment reasons I can stay up to 9: 30 p.m. Sometimes I also work on Saturdays and Sundays, it depends on how busy I am or how urgent my experiment is.


Practicing sports is the best way to overcome the pressure, the loneliness and many other difficulties and keep healthy, strong and active. I practice sports every day before going to the lab and after coming back home at night.
Young Chinese people like basket ball more than Wushu, Gongfu, or Taiji. However, if you like other sports, you’ll always find partners to play.

Studying at home

I am aware that I am studying in a foreign language therefore I cannot have all I want in class. That’s why, once I come back from the sports or dinner, I immediately start surfing on the net to find the latest research on my field of study. So I can understand more than what the teacher offers me in class. I can even have the opportunity to exchange with other students working in my field of research, which helps me widen my experience and knowledge.


I like sleeping early and wake up early. For me, it’s the only way to keep healthy, have an equilibrated life and study well. In normal times, when I do not have exam or write articles, I always sleep at 11:00 p.m. and wake up at 6:00 a.m. and go to jog at 6:30 a.m., ready for the class at 7:30 a.m. But when there is pressure, exams or writing papers like reviews or articles, I sleep just 4 hours per day.

Remember you are studying in foreign language, so you need to be starving for your success. You have to look for complementary information about your filed on the net.

My free time

I have little free time, but when I really have 2 or 3 days off, I go to visit the countryside where the scenery is very beautiful and the people very friendly. Their Chinese is a little bit different from the city people, but they like talking, playing with foreigners using their “Chinglish”. I really love it. “Chinglish” means “Chinese-English”, which is a mix of Chinese and English. For example: In Chinglish they say “I very love china”, in English we say “I love china very much”.

China, the country of wonders

The country is full of cultural relics which are different inside provinces and from one province to another. In your free time, try to visit Shaoshan, hometown of Mao Ze Dong, and Hengshan , the mountain of Hengyang which is a small city not far from Changsha, where you can see many historic and cultural relics.

You can also go to Guilin , a marvelous place with fantastic sightseeing and beautiful sceneries.

Besides that, if your Chinese is quite good, you can learn many things about the Chinese culture, history, literature, etc. You can also learn Chinese calligraphy, or martial art such like Taiji Quan, Wushu or even Korean martial art “Taekwondo”.