After taking a gap year in 2014, I knew that I really wanted to study medicine and become a doctor. Getting the chance to fulfil that in Aberdeen is such a privilege. The emphasis on and early exposure to clinical skills even in year 1 is in line with why I wanted to do medicine in the first place – because it would give me practical, tangible skills to do good.
Besides exceptional clinical teaching and exposure, the remote and rural medicine component in year 4 was something that I found attractive about Aberdeen’s course. It offers a chance to see medicine practiced in the remote areas of Scotland, a very different setting from the more common big and modern hospital systems. Also, the medical humanities block in year 3 provides a chance to revisit subjects that I was interested in when in school. Finally, the hospital compound in Aberdeen is huge – the biggest in Europe! Imagine the convenience of having a whole spectrum of medical specialities within 10 minutes of the medical school (and quite possibly your apartment). It is also a definite plus point for ‘my-med-school-is better-than-your-med-school’ debates!
Despite the exciting course in Aberdeen, I admit that it was difficult to move out of my comfort zone and adjust to the new environment. Coming from hot and humid Singapore, I remember feeling miserable walking in Scotland’s dreary weather. The culture and people were very different, and I was definitely homesick. Over time though, these differences are actually what I have come to love about the place. The slower and more laid-back pace of life is refreshing, the cold air invigorating and of course, the freedom of independence most liberating! I come from a big family of six and often missed their noise and company, which is why I was so thankful for my flatmates whose friendship made our little flat feel more like home. The bonding and cultural exchange over food in our kitchen brings back great memories – whether it was watching them cry over my ‘spicy’ curry, eating helping after helping of Danish rice pudding or discovering what makes a quintessential American breakfast. Being an international student is not easy, but it is comforting to know there are others in the same boat. Moreover, the opportunity to meet diverse people and experience new cultures is invaluable and worth cherishing.
This first year in Aberdeen has involved a lot of growing up and learning about myself and the world around me. Many friends in other medical schools have shared that the rigour and stress of medical school makes them forget why they started it in the first place. It may be early to say, but I am happy to report that so far, studying in Aberdeen has reinforced my motivations and more than ever am I sure that this is the right course of study for me.
Aberdeen Medical School
Sarah MowAberdeen Medical School