Graduating from undergrad in the States was a mixed feeling for me; I had lived four years of an amazing college experience but unlike some of my peers who had their paths all sorted before graduation, I was in a bind. Should I struggle to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a dentist or settle for my best alternative (and an equal passion of mine) and go into a Master’s program in Public Health? The path to dental school seemed daunting. Because I was in a liberal arts program majoring in a social science discipline, fulfilling the pre-reqs for dental schools in Canada and the US weren’t on my priority list. Consequently, I realized that the only way I could get into a dental school in North America was to either repeat my undergrad but this time major in something pre-dent or enrol as an unclassified student and cram in the remaining pre-dent requirements. Fortunately, I found an even better solution through the Atlantic Bridge program – a five-year undergraduate dental degree program that is recognized back in Canada.
The dental degree program at University College Cork was the perfect fit for me! The first two years of the program are academic-based and students take a mixture of science-based modules (biochemistry, physiology, anatomy) and introductory dental courses. I found the science-based courses really helped to fill gaps in my existing knowledge and the dental courses were a great introduction to the remaining years spent in the dental clinics.
One of the facets of the program I really appreciate is the small class size. My year has 45 students and within the clinics, we’re broken into groups of 5. That means that the instructor to student ratio is 1:9. In other words, students get the attention that they need to learn the necessary skills to become proficient dental professionals. And if you’re looking for a truly international experience, I can assure you that you’ve come to the right place. My dental classmates come from all around the world, most notably from Malaysia, Singapore, Trinidad, and Saudi Arabia.
Cork city is underrated: while it might not have the hustle and bustle of Dublin, it has natural beauty. Situated on the River Lee, it is surrounded by water and thus has the same characteristic charm as other European cities. However, it’s the people of Cork who will win your heart! They are the most down-to-earth and honest individuals I have met in my years of living and travelling abroad. Everyone makes you feel welcome to the city. And the food!!!! Cork is the food capital of Ireland and if you ever get a chance, I’d invite you to peruse some of the restaurants in the town of Kinsale for some fresh catch of the day. And if you’re a foodie like me, Kinsale hosts a gourmet food festival annually in the month of October.
Ireland being not that far away from North America, truly is the perfect option for those students adventurous enough to study abroad yet be close enough to return home for the holidays. And with a school year that parallels that in North America, it means that you can still return home and see your friends too! I encourage you to explore the Irish route and give it some serious thought because I personally haven’t thought twice about the opportunities provided to me here. Best of luck and as the Irish say, your time spent here will be great “craic!”