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How We Met at PKU: From Turkey to Mongolia
Jan 12, 2022
Peking University, January 13, 2021: Peking University offers a unique international campus environment for students of all nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds to pursue their passions and interests, welcoming students from all walks of life across the globe, as we gather here at Yanyuan, sharing the same PKU identity.

"How We Met at PKU" is an interview series showcasing the close-knitted bonds formed by various Pekingers across geographical borders at PKU, documenting these peculiar cross-cultural friendships formed into our shared PKU Family memory journal. This friendship day, we present you a story of two medical students who met at Peking University.

We welcome all current Pekingers and alumni to submit your stories at the end of this article.


Sevinc Banu Kanbur (left) and Otgonsetseg Ulziimunkh (right)

Sevinc Banu Kanbur, from Turkey, is a medical student currently pursuing Clinical Medicine degree at the Health and Science Center, Peking University (PKU). Her classmate and best friend, Otgonsetseg Ulziimunkh from Mongolia is also pursuing the same degree at PKU.

First impression won't be the last

Sevinc Banu Kanbur (left), Otgonsetseg Ulziimunkh (right)

Sevinc Banu and Otgonsetseg first met during the opening ceremony of PKU undergraduate in 2016 when her whole class gathered at the Khoo Teck Puat Gymnasium on campus. Interestingly, their first impression of each other wasn't favorable. While Otgonsetseg thought Sevinc Banu was "very annoying and acted ridiculously cool", Sevinc Banu also had a similar first impression of Otgonsetseg and thought she was a bit "distant and hard to get along with". It wasn't until 4 months later during one of their classmate's birthdays that they got to know each other properly and became good friends. They happened to sit together during the birthday party and they shared that "it was surprising for both of us how much we think alike and have the same sense of humor and ever since then we always sit together". Sevinc Banu looks back at how both of their impression changed as they got to know each other and confesses that "I'm so glad that I was wrong". They have now been friends for more than 5 years.

Sevinc Banu and Otgonsetseg traveling on the bus

Together through thick and thin

Medical school is no doubt a challenging ride. Sevinc Banu and Otgonsetseg share that they have exams almost every week. During practical exams, they even have to act like a real doctor by diagnosing the patient as well as learn how to communicate with them. Hence, teamwork is key during such examination and Sevinc Banu is grateful that she has Otgonsetseg by her side every time. They take turns to become doctor and patient.

Both of them in the medical practical exam

Exams are just a few of the many challenges they have to face not only in medical school but also in life. They share that there are days when obstacle block their path but that is when they choose to move forward looking at it as an opportunity to learn something new. They also mentioned that this way they started to enjoy these challenges and acknowledged that "that's one of the aspects that we've gained in PKU which we are eternally grateful for".

Taking a selfie together after the practical exam

Sevinc Banu and Otgonsetseg recall that since they both aren't "morning people", they used to reach the early morning class at the anatomy lab with an empty belly. One day both of them couldn't tolerate their empty and grumpy stomach so they decided to use the 10-minute break from class to sneak out of the building and into the campus canteen to eat baozi (steamed buns). On their way back, while they were rushing back to class, they missed noticing the still wet floor from moping and "fell like dominos" Sevinc Banu shares. They laugh as they add that the person who helped them get up was no other than the chief of the anatomy department, Otgonsetseg admits that "he was the last person they would want to bump into during that time!" Since then, they learned their lesson and never skipped breakfast before morning classes.

Sevinc and Otgonsetseg during lab classes

Friendship Milestone

Sevinc Banu accepts that she has met one of the most amazing people in life at PKU. She further shares that "this is a milestone in our lives and Otgentsetseg is one of the important aspects of this milestone". From the first day of medical school, they have both witnessed each other grow in different ways, gain new vision and evolve. They share that they still pinch each other every day grateful for having this opportunity to live the life they have always dreamed of. They admit that getting to this point was a rollercoaster ride with emotional, mental, and physical challenges. Otgentsetseg shares that "We still have a long way to go but we always got each other's back".

Enjoying ice creams during their breaks together

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they both have been stuck in their respective countries. However, once they return to China, they hope to travel all across China by slow train. They look to explore more and tell stories through the lens of extending their own experience. Sevinc Banu excitedly shares that "we both especially hope to witness the beauty of Chinese culture and heritage in the areas that are less traveled".

What is one thing you would like to say to each other?

Sevinc Banu: As it's a fact that a slight perspective shift can affect our life. We didn't like each other at first sight but now we are the best friends. Although we are in a different continents, different time zones, having you by my side and hearing your sarcastic humors is so amazing. Distance showed us the real meaning of closeness. The memories with you will visit me every now and then and gives me a big smile. I can't wait to make new memories once we are back. I miss you and thank you for being alongside with me in this journey called life!

Otgensetseg: When I met you for the first time, I wasn't very fond of you because, when I was struggling for exam questions you walked out from the classroom like you are the professor. However, when we met at the café and finally had a good conversation, I was surprised to know that you were exactly like me! The way you think, the way you talk, even your attitude were exactly the same as mine! I'd like to thank you so much for always being there for me through thick and thin. Until we meet again and make more amazing memories, please stay safe and be happy. You're already like a family member and always remember that even in the future we will be making awesome memories and still be the coolest girls in the city even when we hold our grandchildren!

Sevinc Banu and Otgonsetseg staying in touch via video calls

Writer: Aneka R. Rajbhandari
Editor: Pu Hairui
Producer: Amanda Hu
Photo: Sevinc Banu Kanbur and Otgonsetseg Ulziimunkh
Designer: Goh Chia Chia