African Renaissance Festival 15-16 August 2019



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Work towards your goals:Sharissa Muniappen

Sharissa Muniappen matriculated from Glenvista High School in Johannesburg in 2008.

Sharissa Muniappen's passion to study medicine was set back by the limited spaces available to study in a South African university. After completing the first year of a BSC degree at the University of Witwatersrand, she applied to study for a degree in clinical medicine in China.

After applying on line through the website Sharissa was delighted to be offered a place at Central South University in the City of Changsha in Hunan Province. Initially, Sharissa was self funded, which was extremely difficult financially, however, she was fortunate to be awarded a Chinese
Government Scholarship.

Sharissa said that the immediate challenge she experienced was the language barrier. However, as part
of the study programme requirements, Sharissa attended Chinese language classes throughout the 5½
years of her degree study programme. As the University caters for international students, all of the lectures were in English.

All international students are accommodated in self catering apartments on campus. Shopping for food
was an additional immediate challenge. Sharissa said, "Dietary requirements made it difficult for me, due to the fact that I was vegetarian and food items I normally enjoyed were not available."

"At times living in China was very difficult as I was far away from home, and I missed my family. I had to remember that I was there because I had a passion for medicine and I was determined to complete my degree. My positive mind set was really important as was the need to embrace Chinese culture and accept the differences I experienced," said Sharissa.

Sharissa has returned home to South Africa after successfully completing her degree. Her studies are not yet over. She is required to write the South African board exam in October, after which she will follow the standard two year internship programme that South African medical students complete.

Sharissa added, "The experience has strengthened me. It was a journey in which I learnt more about myself and my abilities. At times it was a mental challenge to stay motivated but I was very determined to succeed. I learnt to really appreciate South Africa. I also learnt a lot from the Chinese people, they are
very hard working. I especially admired the many old Chinese people who spent their days in hard physical labour pulling heavy loads."

When asked what advice Sharissa would give to students considering applying to study overseas she said: "Honestly, it is not easy to prepare yourself mentally for the challenges you will face of being away from home. Your will to succeed and your passion for whatever you intend to study should be greater than any potential derailments. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I encourage anybody and everybody to venture on an educational journey. You must have a positive mindset and be strong and continue your studies no matter what comes. Give yourself time, it is a costly financial investment so don't waste the opportunity or return home after a short while. It is a very nice experience to go into the world
and be independent. Everyone should have this opportunity once in their lives."

Sharissa concluded, "Be determined to succeed and work towards your goals."

 Work towards your goals Sharissa Muniappen.JPG

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