My story in China


My name is Shah Kiramat Ali from Pakistan. I am a third-year PhD student at Soochow University (SUDA), China, studying Pharmaceutical Sciences with a major in Pharmaceutics.

I have been studying at SUDA for five years, and the beauty of Suzhou profoundly inspires me. Suzhou, alternately Romanized as Soochow, is a significant prefecture-level city in southern Jiangsu province, East China, and the outer suburbs of the two global hubs meet. It is a major economic center and focal point of trade and commerce. The city's north waterfront is on a lower reach of the Yangtze, whereas it has its more focal south-western waterfront on Lake Tai – crossed by several waterways, and its district belongs to the Yangtze River Delta region. Suzhou is also famous for its classical gardens dating back to the 6th century BC. Suzhou, also known as "Paradise on Earth", has long been known for its exquisite gardens and silk garments. Aside from its rich history, it is now one of China's most dynamic and rapidly developing cities, attracting millions of migrants and tourists.


                           Humble administrator's garden, Suzhou, China                    Suzhou Center Mall, Awards 2018 in Cannes, France

Suzhou is also one of the top 50 major cities in the world by scientific research outputs as tracked by the Nature Index. It is home to multiple major universities in China, including Soochow University. These opportunities make Suzhou ideal for international students.

"Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace."

Life is full of challenges and hurdles, but we can cover all the loopholes and achieve them through hard work, resilience, and consistency. In our lives, some moments are unforgettable, and some accomplishments mark history forever. The first of any field cannot be replaced because these warrantless movements give us very precious experiences, which are priceless. I have the honor of being the first international student in Pharmaceutics at the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Soochow University, China.

Student Life in China

My story of studying in China began after I finalized my bachelor's degree (Pharm-D) in December 2016 from SBBU Pakistan. I decided to study in China. Soochow University awarded me a scholarship for my master's degree in Pharmaceutics. After receiving my visa documents, I was concerned about the Chinese way of life and the difficulty in adjusting to and adapting to my study life in China. Finally, on August 27, 2017, I left my home, filled with anxiety and stress, to study in China. As soon as I set foot on Chinese soil on August 28, 2017, I felt a fresh breeze. I was overjoyed to be studying in China for the first time in my life. In general, Chinese people may not know much about me, but when I reveal my motherland Pakistan, they will be overjoyed, much like someone who has finally found their true love after a long search.

In 2020, I got my master's degree in Pharmaceutics. I improved my pharmaceutical knowledge and ability to apply it to real-world scenarios. Master's projects were well-done. Soochow University has improved my experimental skills and teamwork with others. My research interests are well-defined after three years of lab work. Based on my background, I plan to expand my research in pulmonary drug delivery. I'm also good at solving research challenges. As I grow academically and learn more, my research interests will too. I earned my master's degree at a top-ranked university (Soochow University, China), but I don't feel prepared for my plan. I've decided to continue my studies at Soochow University, SUDA, under the same professor's supervision.


                                         SUDA Library                                                                          School of Music, SUDA

In these past years, I've grown and improved my skills while immersed in Chinese culture. This PhD opportunity is made more valuable by the scholarship. Since Chinese culture is so vast and deep, I realize I must educate myself to be intellectual and virtuous. For a PhD student, virtue means mastering research techniques, showing empathy and care in the lab, following community attitudes, leading a positive life, and improving. These are my doctoral goals.

My supervisor, Professor Jinghao Cui, allowed me to study at Soochow University. I would like to thank my supervisor for giving me the incredible opportunity to learn in the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Soochow University.

In addition, having virtue means making an active effort to better oneself by engaging in academic and social pursuits. In the 21st century, a doctoral student should conduct research in this manner. Students from other countries should also demonstrate their abilities and maintain an optimistic outlook on life in China and the rest of the world. During my studies, I had the opportunity to travel to several of China's most well-known cities, such as Bejing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hefei, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, etc., where I became acquainted with the country's technological and artistic achievements.

In China, there is always something to do. Academics and life are structured around making the most of your semester abroad, whether making new friends, exploring new places, hiking, visiting, practicing English and Chinese at the English Corner, or simply relaxing in everyday life. I enjoyed the Mid-Autumn Festival because I am in China in the fall. Stroll through the night markets with red lantern-lit streets in early October while eating traditional mooncakes. I can see the dedicated patriotism of China's national holiday on October 1. Are you feeling romantic? Enjoy Chinese Valentine's Day in all of its autumnal splendor. I had firsthand experience with a plethora of holidays! When I feel homesick, I can easily make a quick Skype or WhatsApp call home or find an online coffee shop where I can sip my homesickness away. If that fails, I go to a restaurant and order a Chinese version of a hamburger or pizza. This is fantastic, China.


                                          Tongli Water Town, Suzhou                                                           Zhouzhuang Water Town, Suzhou

When I first arrived in China, I was utterly oblivious to the existence of the metro system. To be confined within a space was an innovative, lightning-quick, and remarkable experience. My curiosity led me to look around, and I noticed that each metro train had six compartments. People were entering and exiting each station, and the whole thing appeared to be moving quickly.

It did not take long before ordinary bicycles were discovered in 2017, serving people, including visitors from other countries, in various cities. As I strolled through the neighborhoods of Suzhou, I was under the impression that many people had purchased the same bike model. That is, until one day, Ofo and Mobike began displaying their bicycles at every turn of the road. After that, I realized that it was intended for the general public. I was curious about this phenomenon, and it shouldn't have surprised me that it got me thinking about it.

No doubt, we have passed from the well-advanced era of the time, but on the flip side, the whole world is on the track of fear and hangs on the edge of a dark well. The fear of COVID-19 fully gripped man's mind. The mind is a thing that is capable of thinking.

                                                        Growth in the pandemic                                                        

COVID-19 was the world's worst gift in 2019, primarily to China. I remember it drove extreme feelings of anxiety. The pandemic situation worsened suddenly and quickly. Everyone, including me, in China was scared and worried about their lives. We never felt alone and always followed the rules and regulations. Hats off to the Chinese Government for controlling these pandemic situations in a more efficient and well-disciplined way than the rest of the world.

According to a report published in the Lancet Medical Journal on December 1, 2019, specific corona symptoms were observed, which caused chaos all over the world. Everyone felt fear regarding the sudden outbreak. The world placed a strong emphasis on social ethics and social relationships, specifically how to maintain order within these spheres. Students from other countries were also concerned about the current situation. As soon as we learned about the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of our minds became unstable, and our level of depression reached a new extreme. This question, "What should be done next," caused us a lot of concern. Despite the situation's grave nature, the Soochow University's administration (ISO) and our respected school teachers instilled confidence in us and expanded our understanding of combatting the corona pandemic. Some unforgettable memories and help from international students are appreciable such as monitoring everyday temperature (digital thermometer), providing masks, gloves, and antiseptics, availability of food stuff nearby by hostel door, regular information in WeChat group, and providing basic guidelines on daily bases, etc. One verse in the Holy Quran says, "If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity," we finally paid attention to the concept of social distance. This illness can be passed on to other people. Therefore, maintaining a social distance became necessary, and we did our best to be mindful of this fact. People were paying attention to China's strategy for dealing with this issue. The exercise was one of the activities that our supervisors suggested we do to keep ourselves active. Our thoughts tend to speed up whenever we are anxious about something (like the Coronavirus). Mindfulness training, even if it's just for ten minutes, can help you feel more at ease in your daily life. We talked with one another whenever we felt the need to pass the time but didn't want to emerge from the confines of the room. We overcame our social isolation by joining various online discussion groups. We all were reportedly feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information regarding the Coronavirus being shared in the media and on social media. The right song at the right time can do wonders for our mood.

While doing so, we created a playlist of some of our favorite songs. Students completed their homework in the privacy of their rooms, but in Corona, they showed an interest in expanding their knowledge. Every day, we keep up with the news to understand modern medicine and governments' challenges in combating Corona. The pandemic has harmed the economies of a significant number of developed, underdeveloped, and developing countries. However, some countries, such as China, could combat it by enforcing stringent lockdowns, reducing the number of social gatherings, and providing frontline health workers with appropriate medical kits and essential medications. Because of this, China could successfully deal with this potentially disastrous issue. The only path to prosperity for China is for the country to master the art of maintaining law and order while also practicing some form of effective governance.

The Soochow University provides scholarships to many students from developing countries, including myself, with access to additional educational resources in this country that are rich in resources. It also offers the opportunity to connect with the rest of the world and progress in conjunction with the rest. As I look to the future, I intend to continue cultivating a moral character to become an improved international student.

Many millions of people all over China had their lives altered due to the factors mentioned above. People in China are doing quite well for themselves, thanks to the robust economic growth. After living in China for the past five years, I have seen firsthand the country's enormous potential. In the not-too-distant future, China will hold the position of a world leader.