It is approaching the year anniversary when my mother and I made the exciting, yet nerve-wracking trip to the post office to discover the outcome of my medical school applications. To my delight, I was accepted and am currently a first year medical student at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I couldn’t be happier. I am fortunate to attend such a prestigious medical school. NUIG has a phenomenal, innovative, medical program that incorporates traditional lecture style teaching with hands on learning. We are very privileged to experience cadaver dissection in our anatomy classes, an invaluable tool that accelerates comprehension of material beyond the lecture hall. Our professors are wonderful, knowledgeable teachers who are always willing to help. The university program also anticipates challenges that new students face by providing us with both academic and student mentors. One of my favourite aspects of the program is the diversity of the student body. I have enthusiastic, jovial, classmates – the welcoming Irish and some of which have ventured from afar – Canadian (like myself), American, German and Malaysian. In addition to learning about medicine, I have the pleasure of working with individuals from all over the world, further enriching my experience.
As someone who escaped the dark Canadian winters during prior travels experiences, I admit I was a little worried about moving to Galway upon discovering that it was the coldest, windiest city in Ireland. I prepared by packing every sort of rain gear you can imagine. When I finally arrived I nearly forgot my preconceptions and was warmed by Galway’s charm. Despite being thousands of miles away from home, I felt right at home in a town where the people are so friendly and where the sounds of live music never stop. I almost find it funny how little the Irish climate affects me- perhaps because I prepare for the rain every day and am always appreciative when the sun comes out!
It’s challenging to sum up my medical experience to date in a few paragraphs and I’ve only started my second semester. There is much more to address and it’s likely that I could write a novel describing how wonderful it’s been. One last thought that comes to mind is the many perks of studying medicine abroad. In a foreign country individuals are more likely to step outside their comfort zone. I am taking advantage of this by getting involved in societies, taking on leadership roles and being brave by asking questions in lecture and tutorials. I find this fearless attitude has both enhanced my learning and my character.
I am truly grateful for this chapter of my life, and would like to thank the Atlantic Bridge, family and friends who were great supports every step of the way. I know it sounds as if I’ve won the jackpot but to me I have. I am very thankful for this opportunity and will continue to embrace the adventure in the years to come.