Hishma Vola-Justine Bourhani, from Comoros, made her decision to study in China's southern island province of Hainan four years ago because the climate reminded her of home.
The 21-year-old student received a scholarship from the Hainan government to study clinical medicine for six years, covering her tuition, accommodation and health insurance.
At the School of International Education, where all classes are taught in English, Bourhani gets on well with her Chinese classmates and those from all over the world.
"We really try to help each other as much as we can in daily life," she said, adding that many of her classmates have become good friends.
Hainan Medical University's School of International Education was established in 2007 and has become the university with the largest international student population in the province.
So far, 419 students have graduated and obtained degrees, and there are 690 foreign students from 35 countries currently pursuing bachelor's or master's degrees at the school.
"After more than 15 years of planning and practice, we have the qualifications and ability to provide a good education for overseas students, and we've built a high-standard international medical university with tropical characteristics," said Zhang Wanke, the school's Party secretary.
While working on their majors, international students are also tasked with learning the Chinese language and culture.
In their half-year foundation course, they not only study basic medical knowledge, but also Chinese. They are expected to pass level 3 of the HSK Chinese proficiency test by the end of the course to help them master the use of Chinese in daily life. After their first year of study, they are required to pass HSK 4, and if the students want to continue their postgraduate studies at Hainan Medical University, they'll need to meet the standard of HSK level 5, according to Zhang.
For international students, learning Chinese at the same time as medicine can be both challenging and interesting. Pei Zhousi, who teaches medical Chinese at the school, takes students to a hospital for practice while teaching them medical terms in Chinese to help them remember.
Ufomadu Marvis Sobechi, 23, from Nigeria, has studied at the school for four years and said that learning medical terms in Chinese helps her to relate to her course.
"We can have proper communication with patients. We can ask questions in Chinese, and we can understand most of their answers. Most of the time, our teacher is also there to help with translation," Sobechi said. "Interestingly, I remember the name of some diseases in Chinese rather than English."
Neema Revocatus Mugeta, 25, from Tanzania, said: "We really have good student-and-teacher interactions here. The teachers are doing their best to give us quality education."
The School of International Education also keeps foreign students engaged with activities.
Doukoure Lamine Aznard, a 22-year-old student from Cote d'Ivoire, likes to play soccer with his classmates in his spare time. His most memorable moment at the university was winning the champion's trophy with his team for the school in May last year.
Apart from activities on campus, the school also encourages international students to do volunteer work, including teaching children in villages and helping out with COVID-19 prevention and control in communities.
Eager to contribute, Kashmala Fazil, 23, from Pakistan, said in August during the COVID-19 outbreak in Hainan that "we are foreigners, but we're not outsiders".
By letting students get close to Chinese society, Zhang hopes that they can understand China better.
"Many students will return to their motherland after graduation," he said. "I hope that they can learn from Chinese culture and wisdom and use what they learn here in their future work, tell real Chinese and Hainan stories, and spread their voice to the world."
Indonesian Muhammad Yaumil Akhir Masud, 27, is in his final year. He believes that China is one of the most advanced countries in technology and medicine.
"If we look at history, since ancient times China has had traditional Chinese medicine, which is very well known. Also, Western medicine in China can compete with the drugs in other developed countries," he said.
Zeeshan Qasim Khan, from Pakistan, who graduated from Hainan Medical University in 2018, has stayed in Hainan and started an import and export company for medical equipment.
"I'd like to encourage more international friends to come and study, work and live at the Hainan Free Trade Port," he said. "It has beautiful beaches, a friendly atmosphere and favorable policies."
Copyright The People's Government of Hainan Province. All Rights Reserved.
Approved by: General Office of Hainan Provincial People's Government.
Qiong ICP License No. 05000041-1
Government Website Identification Code: 4600000001
Qiong Computer Information Network International Internet Unit 46010802000004