I decided in my last year of Biomedical Science at University of Waterloo that I was going to take the plunge and write my MCAT & apply to medical school the following year, regardless of my previous worries of wasting time and money, considering the competitiveness of Canadian medical schools. My best friend had additionally applied via Atlantic Bridge the following year as a backup in case of Canadian rejections, and had been pleasantly surprised by her experience in Ireland. Just two weeks before the deadline, I decided to follow suit and apply. Late March I got the acceptance e-mail to University College Dublin & I was over the moon; I didn’t even wait to hear from the last Canadian medical school as I was on their conditional waiting list, and I just went for it.
Going to medical school in Dublin was the best decision I have ever made. The classes are challenging, exciting and the many consultant* guest lecturers make the experience very practical and engaging. I’ve made friends I’m going to have for a lifetime & even lived with a family for a year whom I truly consider my family abroad. The night life is incredible and perfect for a cozy night out with friends in a pub or for a night of dancing and celebrating following exams. Even though everyone warned me about the weather before going, it barely rains and the summers are just as nice as back home in Ontario. I even got to experience Dublin’s snow storm this winter & it was like I never even left home.
The academic experience is not unlike my Canadian one & the expectations in terms of grades and lab experience were the same. I wanted to immerse myself in Irish culture and the university offers free Irish classes once a week for students & I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time – “Tá mé i mo chónaí i mBaile Átha Cliath ach is as Ceanada mé”, which means “I am living in Dublin but I am from Canada”. Although I can’t give all the credit to the classes because I’ve also met the love of my life in Ireland, who is in my class in school but was previously a primary school teacher & a fluent Irish speaker.
The environment is not competitive at all and the possibility of staying in Ireland as an international student for my intern year is not unheard of. I love the idea that I may be anywhere in Ireland or even in another country in Europe during my career and the cheap flights to Vienna and Lisbon during this semester wouldn’t have been possible had I stayed in Canada. I truly recommend going abroad for medical school as I’ve had an incredible experience and cannot wait to start working in hospital.
*In the Irish Medical Service, a Senior Physician or Surgeon is referred to as a Consultant