My SIGS Story | Mariam O. Afolabi: An Inspiring Journey

Editor’s note:

2021 marks a special year for Tsinghua SIGS as we celebrate its 20th anniversary. The school has witnessed rapid development over the years and is a place where many have made treasured memories.

In the series “My SIGS Story,” meet inspiring members of our community as they share with us their unique experiences, friendships, and lessons learned at Tsinghua SIGS.

My beautiful journey at Tsinghua SIGS began in August 2019 when I started my Master of Precision Medicine and Healthcare degree at Open FIESTA. Since my arrival, the entire school community has been my second home. Everyone cares about each other—your absence is noted with concern, but your education remains your responsibility. Here, professors are always present to help you be the best version of yourself.

I am captivated by the eagerness and willingness of staff at Open FIESTA and the International Students & Scholars Center, to name a few that provide assistance to students with good listening ears. The entire SIGS environment is always inspiring and challenges you to strive for excellence on a daily basis. The presence of state-of-the-art research facilities, renowned professionals, and continuous support from the school management has made SIGS a nurturing environment for students.

An amazing graduate school experience

The best way to describe my graduate school experience thus far is AMAZING. After graduating from Lagos State University with a B.Sc. in Microbiology in 2010, I worked in a variety of industries for several years. When my husband was admitted to the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences for his doctoral studies in 2017, I joined him in Shenzhen in 2018.

My desire for knowledge and motivation to improve my previous skills led me to apply to Open FIESTA’s program. This opportunity has allowed me to join a group of highly motivated scholars at various research laboratories, gaining new laboratory experience and engaging in active research, all while pursuing my goal of participating in the Integrated Sustainable Development Goals (iSDG). This program has truly introduced me to the best international research practices.

Time flies at Tsinghua SIGS

In this short time, I have learned, unlearned, and relearned the phrase "How time flies." I have made some amazing new friends from various backgrounds, which has given me a better understanding of how diverse the world is. My classes were fantastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed them all, especially the Chinese courses; making the language course mandatory for international students is probably the best part of the curriculum. Learning a new language can be difficult, but the rewards are immeasurable, proving the adage “There is gain behind every effort.”

In terms of extracurricular activities, SIGS certainly knows how to bring out the social side of students, ensuring a balanced lifestyle with well-planned activities for students ranging from sports, mental and psychological awareness, activities to celebrate festivals, and even innovative programs to engage students with local communities.

Connecting with the local community

This past April, I had a wonderful time meeting people from the Taoyuan community through the “International Neighbors Program.” The hike up Yangtai Mountain was exhausting, but it provided an opportunity to bond with members of the community, particularly children who were highly inquisitive. Another exciting aspect of the event was the dinner preparation, where I was able to learn the skills behind preparing Chinese dishes and put some of them into practice. I will never forget the long walk and stunning views at Shiyan Wetland Park.

I will miss all of these wonderful experiences when I graduate, but as the saying goes, “life goes on." After these years at Tsinghua SIGS, I can make one promise: I will continue to be a good ambassador and advocate for this great citadel of learning. With a grateful heart, I say, “Thank you, Tsinghua!”

Writer: Mariam O. Afolabi

Editor: Karen Lee