I couldn’t be happier with my decision to move to Ireland for medical school. Having visited Dublin prior to applying, I, unlike many of my North American classmates, had some idea of what to expect. I had no idea, however, that I would appreciate my time here as much as I have.
The graduate entry program was implemented at UCD in September 2008. The curriculum was developed carefully and conscientiously by the course coordinators, and their devotion to the success of the students and of the program is evident, in the enthusiasm of the lecturers and the willingness of administration to listen to our feedback. Another triumph of the graduate entry program lies in the students selected for it. There are 38 of us from a wide diversity of educational backgrounds forming a small cohesive group. We are like a family, and the learning environment is more cooperative than competitive. There is also a network of North American students at UCD and across Ireland who help ease the transition to medical school and Irish life in general. They provide considerable guidance on issues concerning returning to Canada or America following graduation, and are a useful source of advice on all matters from residencies to writing the USMLE.
Our program is intimate, but UCD is the largest school in Ireland. There are clubs and societies to suit any taste, distinguished guest speakers, concerts, pubs, and anything else one might need to lead a healthy extracurricular life. UCD’s fitness resources are considerable, and opportunities exist to get involved in virtually any sport (including ice hockey), although not much should be expected from the gym.
Dublin is a brilliant city. It has the feel of a major centre and a small town all at once. The city has no problem keeping the adventurous busy with its abundance of culture, art, sport and nightlife, but the intimate feeling is thanks to the Irish people, who are noticeably friendly and down-to-earth. Irish culture is very unique, and some people will inevitably have difficulty adjusting to the change in lifestyle. Priorities here are different from North American ones; Irish people are very easygoing, and life feels generally less hurried.
It takes work to strike the fine balance between school and life, but achieving it can be very rewarding. Dublin has so much to offer if you take the time to look for it, and there are plenty of opportunities to travel economically, within Ireland or throughout Europe. To any North Americans considering UCD for medical school, I would say come with an open mind and a little enthusiasm and you won’t be disappointed.