Conor Bell

I would describe studying medicine in Ireland much like moving to a new planet. Even though I pride myself for being a proud Canadian, I was quickly enthralled with the Irish lifestyle, the strange accents, and the love of tea, sports and all things Irish. The weather took some getting used to, but I didn’t come all this way for a beach vacation, moreover to study for a life-long profession.

After completing my foundation year at NUI Galway, I feel ready to take on the challenging first med year. My highlight of foundation year was certainly our Early Patient Contact and Anatomy class. In the first part of the course we got to feel what it is like to be a doctor; we hit the wards and took real life patient’s medical histories. In the second part of the course we were given broad lectures on different diseases, and had to research diseases that interested us. This was designed to expose us to what it’s like to be a researcher. We were also given the chance to learn about the process of getting back into North America with lectures from doctors in the know and recent grads that have been accepted into North American residency programs.

When I arrived in Galway I found it very easy to fit it. I noticed right away that the students are less “cliquey,” everyone seems to get along and appreciate the diversity in our backgrounds. Our class of seventy is like a big family, proof in the fact that nearly every student came for our after-exams lunch in the College Bar.

Another thrill was finding hockey in Ireland. There is an inline hockey club team in every urban area. I met many good friends through my team, the Galway Bay Lightning, and the league (many of whom are North Americans). It’s a great way to keep active and to travel the country, with tournaments hosted all across Ireland.

During my first year studying in Galway, I have been educated in all areas of life. Living and studying in a different country, you learn how to succeed, how to interact with people, and how to take care of yourself. It sounds cliché, but you really learn who you are and the person you want to be. I could not be happier in Galway, a great ‘college’ town during the week, and ‘tourist’ town on the weekends. Being tucked in the Irish west coast, it is easy to forget how close I was to so many beautiful European cities. However in February our class went on an amazing trip to Amsterdam, where we boated in the canals, and visited the Anne Frank house and Van Gogh museum.

The best evidence of how much an impact Ireland has had on me could be seen on a visit to my home in Toronto. On a typical day you can hear my brother uttering Irish phrases I have taught him. You can probably see my dad watching videos of the Irish travelers and culture that I have shown him on YouTube, and my mom proclaiming Tommy Tiernan’s greatness (he’s an Irish comic). I think it is safe to say, with regards to me studying in Galway, they’re jealous.

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