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Experiences of a Mauritian as a Foreign Medical Student in Pakistan

Submitted by on August 4, 2012 – 3:39 AM 46 Comments

‘Did I make the right choice after all?’’

‘‘Would I ever be capable of handling so much? ’’

After nearly five years, those nagging whispers sometimes still anxiously echo within my head…

Silent tears would roll down my cheeks.  My ‘whole being’ sapped of strength, I would hurry to the girls’ campus; lock myself up in my room, away from the buzz of the crowded city. By the window, the majestic flight of the eagles, soaring high above, would make my thoughts drift far-off…. to those whom I left behind: my parents, siblings, family who always stood by me.


‘‘Why would anyone want to leave a zone of such physical and, above all emotional comfort?’’ you might duly wonder.


I am a final year medical student at Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan. Five years ago, I decided to fly away from home country, Port-Louis Mauritius for the adventurous taste of studying medicine abroad. I was full of expectations. Sure enough, surprises did await: wake-up calls, eye-openers, challenges and mistakes, but well, in every hurdle, lies an opportunity to shed off weaknesses, brush off the thorns while retaining the rose and rise up again, better equipped for new days ahead.


Coming back to my story! I would soon regain my composure after the sobs, as I would remember that no soul is overburdened beyond what it can bear, if it makes the most of the circumstance. I would feel ashamed of my whines, recalling that numerous were those who faced aches I could barely ever fathom.


I’d grab the phone, instinctively dial the familiar number. Mom’s voice! My ‘insides’ would re-energize.  Dad’s soothing words would quench my confidence quest.  The uneasiness would dissipate despite the seas and miles apart. Blessed be parents! The next minute, I’d wear a smile and go out to face the world.


Deep inside though, the anguish never completely vanished.  We learn to cope with emotions-a vital aspect of life and all-so-important in that of a medical student/ doctor. Sigh…the cries were not merely those of a homesick student but also those of an individual witnessing woes of fellow human beings.


The reason for the above preamble paragraphs is due to the profound lessons they teach me as the journey unfolds. Prior to becoming a better doctor, it is all about becoming a better daughter or son,  a better sister or brother, a better friend, a better soul. I value the humility, the patience, the tolerance, the understanding, which life experience makes one develop in the practical sense.


Everyone and everything took more meaning and depth. What might once have been taken for granted was all the more precious-parents, siblings, eating, drinking… I only endeavor to retain the real-life instructions I benefitted from. I’d humbly encourage every medical student, everyone in fact, to ponder upon the value of human relationships. From then on, respect of fellow human beings would naturally set in. We all think we already inherited those characteristics but as a matter of fact, we might not be practicing what we know.


Sadly! Therefore, let us shake our slumber off and care to develop our humanity. After all, in medicine, we treat humans, like ourselves, like our own mother, our own people. As hard as it might be, next time, try walk in the shoes of the next angry, non-compliant patient. The point is to change our own attitudes to graceful responses and then transmit those values to our colleagues and patients alike.


Doctors…What’s being a doctor like? The thought of it seems very daunting every single time I come to think about it now, on the verge of graduating. Oh my, what a weighty responsibility it would be like to step into the real world, the glimpse of which is both exciting and frightening at the same time. The vast realm of the human body can only make us stand in awe of such intricacy.  So often hence, I find myself doubting if I can ever reach the standards of reacting in the right way and benefitting others. I recall some wise words which said something like:


‘Whenever you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information, just tell yourself that one day, one patient might need you to have that knowledge.’ This would be a boost to strive for a higher purpose. Little steps ultimately make us reach the mountain tops.


If only I could say something but the words would remain like a stuck bolus in my throat as I would not know how to formulate them in Urdu. I’d find my heart constricting. I gently lifted her flimsy arms and adjusted the blood-pressure cuff. She mumbled words in Urdu and I could not understand some of them.  I looked at her in the eyes and only listened, while holding her cold clammy hands. She smiled gratefully. Like this patient, so many others just need an attentive ear, a warm handshake, an empathic nod. The competent doctor sees the human beyond the prescriptions.  Again, this is common knowledge, yet the few, who still have time to practice such art, are the noblest!


To all the bright minds I have witnessed around, students and hardworking doctors alike, I wish the very best. May their talents be efficiently tapped as already demonstrated by organizations like the Patients’ Welfare Association, JPMS Publisher (Journal of Pakistan Medical Students) amongst others. I admire their optimum use of limited resources and pooled up efforts. A team can achieve wonders! Medical schools might just start teaching those tips as well!  Each one of us is a leader, at our own distinct level. If we all take our job at heart, society would definitely progress. Rewards are beyond the material gains.


And to all those who strive hard away from home, hats off folks!

To be the change you want to see…goes the saying. Wipe off doubts hindering your path.  Aim high towards becoming better doctors, better individuals at the outset.

Let us make our absence felt…

An on-going endeavor! A privilege!


About the Author:  Nafiisah B.M.H. Rajabalee is a final year medical student from Dow Medical College, Pakistan. She went to high school in Mauritius, where she was born. She comes from a varied background (several generations back), and loves to understand the psychology of people and listen to them.  She looks forward to being useful to mankind through the medical profession. She can be reached at: [email protected].


About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2012 for the theme: Becoming Better Doctors. To learn more about the contest and to participate in it, follow this link:


To support the author win this contest, share and like this article at different social media platform using the social icons given in this page. Please note the rules and regulations for this contest for details.


Join JPMS Medical Blogs Team: If you have any questions about the contest or what to join the JPMS Medical Blogs Team as Editor or Contributor, email us at: [email protected]


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  • Naf

    Thank you for providing a ‘thought-sharing’ platform JPMS. Wish all the best to all participants !

    • Naf

      Thank you for the amendments:)

  • Mufaddal Ibn Moiz

    couldn’t be written better :)

    • Naf

      Thank you MufaDDal !All the best ahead!

  • Javed

    Aslm. Wish you all the best sister. Very well written, good fruit for thought to doctors and everyone. 
    In every hurdles or hardship there are 2 reliefs.

    • Naf

      Wslm. Indeed!

  • Fouad Assotally

    Very nice article. This is what makes real doctors.

    • Naf

      Thank u sir..

  • Beenish Masood

    very well written Nafisah! Living away from home is very difficult indeed! I hope you go back home with fond memories! You are one of the nicest people in our batch:) I wish you the very best always! <3 :)

    • Naf

      <3 Beenish! Thank u for your kind words. Loads of good wishes for you all as well!

  • Drbwish

    great wording…true emotional feelings…i can feel yourself as i traveled this journey with u for some years! good luck ahead

    • Naf

      Thank u loads B:) Very best wishes to you as well!

  • Imamasma


    • Nafiisah


  • Ambreen Zaidi

    Going through 5 years of medical school is tough enough…
    But after reading this article, I realize how much more agonizing it is for a
    foreign med student.
    This article revived the memories of my med school years…
    Very well written.
    I wish Dr Nafisah all the best for her future :)

    • Nafiisah

      Thank you Dr. Ambreen!

  • Hajira_khalid

    very nice article. wish u best of luck:-)

    • Nafiisah

      Thank you Hajira dear!

  • Fatima.K

    spot on…..great piece , <3 it !

    • Nafiisah

      Jazaakillah Fatima!

  • fawwaaz

    a great article indeed!
    All those sacrifices we are compelled to make,the patience that is been built wihtin us,and the eye-tearing life experiences that are softening our hearts,making us better human beings,will prove very fruitful insha allah! Wish u and all medical students big success in this world and akhirat!

    • Nafiisah


  • Masood Jawaid

    Very touching indeed !!!

    • Nafiisah

      JazaakAllah Sir

  • HOTD

    May Allah make it easy for you 

    • Nafiisah

      Ameen wa feeka baarakAllah

  • Ihsan

    Barakallahu fiki. may Allah Bless you sister. inspiring article. hope the article inspires not only medical practitioners but also other people in other fields. to be human. Jazakillah Khair

    • Nafiisah

      BaarakAllahu feek

  • Sameen

    Great experience reading ur article…had an bird’s eye view…it should definitely win..

    • Nafiisah

      Thank you Samreen!

  • Erum Akram

    Masha Allah its a very well written piece.. :) was a pleasure reading it… it has really instilled some positive energy in me…n every one in our batch needs that at this moment especially because the exams are just around the corner…so Jazakillah for that :) best of luck…wish you a lot of success in both the worlds :)

    • Nafiisah

      Baarakillahu feeki yaa Erum!

  • saadia

    good work nafiisah MashaAllah. I heard alot about you but now i can see through this article. god bless you sister.

    • Nafiisah

      God bless you too sis! Hope we do meet up inshaaAllah!

  • Saud Syed

    Great Article! Its quite difficult to study away from home.

    • Nafiisah

      Thank you Sir.

  • Asma Binte Razi

    good effort naffisah!!n even if u cdnt win the competition,i believe u hv already win alot here …esp many hearts.

    • Nafiisah

      Shukrann Asma!

  • Roshan

    Sr Nafisah has touched some of the real reasons for choosing to be a Medical doctor. At no time has she mentioned earning of big money as being a motivation. Unfortunately, this tendency is quite prevalent amongst a group of these Mauritian professionals.
    May Allah SWT accept your sacrifices. Ameen.

    • Nafiisah

      Ameen! May God make our intentions pure!

  • jhoy

    nice one naffisah….goodluck

    • Nafiisah

      Thank you Jhoy!

  • Ashnavi Bhikajee

    Beautiful, inspiring article Nafiisah :) I’m not sure if I missed the deadline for ‘voting’, sincere apologies if I did, you’d be a worthy winner!!

    • Nafiisah

      Dear Ash, i pray you are doing great. Thank you very much.No , you did not miss the new extended deadline! I do look forward to meeting you all and catch up on what we all’v been doing in the past few years!

  • Saira Halai

    Hi Nafiisah, Well written! I can understand because myself studied medicine in UK at Imperial College School of Medicine, away from my homeland, Pakistan. Although its a luxury to study at Imperial College School of Medicine but there is nothing like home. I wanted to ask you something, does SMCHS or DUHS allow foreign students to do their housejob in Pakistan?
    Saira Halai

    • Nafiisah

      Dear Dr. Saira, thank you . I will revert back to your email inshaaAllah