I had first heard about Atlantic Bridge through a friend of mine who was studying at RCSI. I had visited her in Dublin before and had a great impression of the city, and her rave reviews about Ireland convinced me to apply. Nonetheless, when I got my acceptance to UCC, I still had a hard time deciding whether to actually enroll in the school. Although I had lived in several different places throughout the United States, Ireland was a whole different country – in fact, an entirely different continent! It seemed incredibly far away, and I was hesitant about the different culture, system, and general way of life. I had never been to Cork before, and I knew very little about it. I knew even less about the school. But, in the end, after some serious thought and consulting with students at the school, I decided to take the leap. And I am glad I did.
After spending 1.5 years here, I am happy to call Cork home. For me, it is the perfect city in which to be studying medicine. In my North American standards, it’s a fairly small city, so it lacks the rush and chaos associated with a big metropolis. The people are laid-back, friendly, and incredibly welcoming. With our busy schedules, it’s nice to be surrounded by a relaxed environment. But Cork is far from boring; as the second biggest city in Ireland, there’s a lot going around town, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. It’s very easy to get around in the city, and things are a lot cheaper here than in Dublin. My favorite part about Cork, besides the people, is how close we are to the sea. There are lots of great places to go for day or weekend trips, when you need a break from the grind of medical school. Although the weather can be a bit cold and wet, when the sun is out, Ireland is gorgeous, and I love having the opportunity to explore it.
The Graduate Entry Programme (GEM) at UCC kicked off in the fall of 2009. As part of the very first GEM class in Cork, no one really knew what to expect, and I knew I was bound for some surprises along the way. All in all, though, the experience has been great, mainly in part to the wonderful faculty. They are always ready to listen to us and welcome our input and suggestions for improvement. When we do encounter a few kinks, as all programmes do, the faculty bend over backwards to make sure that we get the best experience possible and accommodate our needs.
Since I haven’t attended medical school in North America, I can’t speak for what schools in Canada or the US have to offer. But I know what I’ve gained from getting my medical education in Ireland. I’ve met some wonderful people, in the classroom, the school, and the community, and have seen some great sights, while getting a superb education from experienced faculty, in a diverse range of hospitals, and with a patient-centered focus. I think I made the right decision.