October 2015 | Deireadh Fómhair 2015

An International Student's Perspective

Tue, 13 October 15 12:23

We began by asking Brandon why he wants to pursue a career in medicine and how he settled on UCD School of Medicine as his school of choice

My initial career focus was on biomedical sciences and conducting research.  My perspective started to shift during my undergraduate degree, but research remained a top interest.  While undertaking a research-based master’s program centered on vascular tissue engineering, my focus evolved to desire a career in medicine, in particular, cardiology.  Ideally, I want to bridge the gap between interventions created in the lab and patients in an attempt to create a more personalized approach to therapies.

Considering a school abroad can be a difficult decision, for both yourself and family members.  As an international student studying in the graduate entry medicine (GEM) program, I often receive queries to why I opted to attend UCD. I chose to study in Ireland and particularly at UCD largely due to the culture, reputation and strong clinical based program.  Based on my research and discussion with some doctors in Canada familiar with UCD, there was a consensus that the clinical skills students develop at UCD are unmatched, and strengthened by the early patient access that is unique in comparison to North American medical schools.

When asked how he found the application process, Brandon said

Prior to applying, I extensively researched the location, climate and culture of Ireland, as well as the caliber, cost and reputation of Irish graduate entry medical programs.  I also found it helpful to connect with friends who were already studying abroad, and investigate the process to return to practice in North America.  Once I decided UCDs Graduate Entry Medical program was the best fit especially for my learning style, I started the application process.  The people at Atlantic Bridge were very helpful and the process was quite straightforward.  The most important and challenging aspect was drafting my personal statement.

Having arrived in Ireland a few weeks ago, we were interested to hear how Brandon had orientated himself to the University and to Dublin 

I arrived in Dublin a week ahead of the start of classes to get settled, open a bank account, secure a local mobile number, and gain some familiarity with the city and campus.  The transit system is extremely easy to navigate and everyone is helpful and approachable if you need assistance with directions.  However, I would suggest considering the hop-on hop-off bus as it travels around Dublin as will show you all of the local attractions at a very reasonable price!  The campus itself is quite easy to get around.  While it initially may seem immense, there are maps everywhere and during the orientation week, guided tours are available which I highly recommend!

Finally, Brandon shared some tips for prospective international students and spoke about some of the things he hopes to do during his time in Ireland

The application process can be daunting.  I created a checklist to ensure I had everything in place as deadlines approach fast.  Don’t underestimate how long it could take to secure health records, police checks, transcripts, etc. I also chose to live in the graduate residence, at least for the initial year.  The decision eased the added burden of trying to look for accommodation before arriving.  Joining the entering class Facebook group allowed me to meet some peers in advance and exchange helpful information regarding flights, what to bring, etc. I would suggest that the creation of a budget is an excellent idea! In conjunction with time management skills, it will enable you to have the means to travel and explore not only Ireland yet the rest of Europe!

UCD provided an amazing orientation week for international students with one caveat: to ensure you get the most out of it you have to get INVOLVED! I have already made some new life-long friends and learned much about other cultures from talking to students at various events. Dublin is a fantastic city.  I’m looking forward to exploring more of Ireland, especially the incredible pubs and scenic west coast.  I’m also looking forward to playing rugby and hope to travel throughout Europe as much as my budget and study schedule will permit!