She is calm, with sharp mental reflexes and agile, given her Medical studies in Hungary, Eastern Europe, where she earned a Doctor of Medicine degree M.D from Debrecen University, Hungary.
Karen Emma-Okah is an older triplet born on the 23rd of April, 1996 at First Consultants Hospital, Ikoyi, Lagos. She successfully bagged a First-Class Summa Cum Laude, making her be highly valued in the academic environment of Hungary. Her co-triplet born sister, Rakel Emma-Okah, also earned a degree in Medicine and Surgery with a Second Class-Cum-Laude Honours Degree.
On the 11th of December, 2021, Dr Karen Emma-Okah was ceremoniously admitted into the Medical Profession, upon graduation with several caps of awards of excellence in Medicine and Surgery in Debrecen University Hungary.
City People’s Port Harcourt Bureau Chief, EMEKA AMAEFULA (+234(0)8111813069), spoke with Karen Emma-Okah in this exclusive interview where she explains in detail her experience in Hungary. Read on.
May I meet you?
I am Dr Karen Emma-Okah
How do you feel being born triplets?
(Laughs) We do get this question a lot. To many people, it is something out of the ordinary but to me, it is all I have ever known, so it feels quite normal. It does make working in a team very easy because I’ve been in a team my whole life. There is a bond we share having grown up together and shared similar experiences. They are a huge part of me, I must say.
If given a choice, would you have chosen not to be born a triplet?
I will say a big ‘NO’ to that. Being born with my siblings has been the greatest honour of my life. I have watched my brother, Owens Emma-Okah grown up into a phenomenal young man and my sister into an amazing young doctor and I will not trade these experiences for anything. Sharing genetic material with my sister who is my exact ‘genetic copy’ is a flex haha.
Studying in Hungary requires the use of a foreign language to effectively communicate, so in your case, what was it like for the first time in Hungary?
First of all, I will say that culture shock is real, but a good number of the people in Hungary speak English in addition to Hungarian Language, so it wasn’t that difficult. Over time, you develop non-verbal communication skills, which are also helpful in the medical setting.
As a medical student in Hungary, did you receive instructions in English or in the Hungarian language?
Karen: Medicine is hard enough learning it in a familiar language. I cannot imagine having to learn it in a new language. So yes, the medicine programme at the University of Debrecen is taught in the English language in its entirety. We were taught the Hungarian Language for the first three years to help with patient communication and daily living.
Being a Nigerian by birth, will you prefer working abroad to coming back to your country of origin for work experience?
Contributing to my home country is of great importance to me, but before then, I would like to gather more skills and experience as well as international working experience and connections that will help me make a bigger impact in the healthcare sector when I do return to work in Nigeria.
Why is it that most NIGERIAN foreign students excel in their academics abroad and their counterparts at home find it difficult to be properly educated in terms of acquiring a thorough knowledge in their field of endeavour?
Karen: The study environment abroad is very student-friendly. Everything one needs to excel is at your disposal. The learning environment is not harsh. If anything, it is welcoming compared to what my colleagues who school in Nigeria had to face. However, Nigeria produces amazing doctors as they beat all the odds.
Two of you studied General Medicine in Hungary, how did you explore social life in that country?
Debrecen University is filled with thousands of students from different countries and where young people are gathered there is going to be an event somewhere. The University played host a lot of events before the pandemic to encourage mixing of students which was very helpful.
Given another opportunity, would you like to return to Hungary for further studies?
Karen: Yes! Hungarians are very friendly people. They take the art of science seriously and they pride themselves in their discoveries and contributions to medicine. The University of Debrecen is a top-notch medical school and I am proud to be an alumna.
What advice do you give to other Nigerian youths who want to go abroad for further studies?
Karen: l will advise them to be focused and have a good support system both at home and when they come over. They must shun vices and bring a good name to our country. To whom much is given, much is expected. It is sad when a student leaves Nigeria and goes abroad only to abandon his or her studies and begin to lie to his or her parents. Parents too must follow up on what their children are doing in school. It’s not enough to pay fees, the sponsors must ask questions and work with the child to sail through.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to have had an interview with your magazine.