Imperial College London – A student perspective
Wassem Hasan

Whether it was the thrill of suturing, the excitement of intubating, the fascination of analysing articles, or the humility felt listening to Dr Michael Rawling speak of his professional challenges – the experiences gained through attending various conferences left a mark on me. Each one provided a chance to learn a new skill. Each one brought a reality closer: I was going to be a doctor.

Studying medicine was not a decision I had made early on. I had an interest in science and how things worked that grew into a desire to understand the body. Wanting to help people directly using my knowledge, I was slowly drawn to medicine.

Initially, I was unsure which university to go to; living overseas meant that I missed open days and lacked any geographical ties. Wanting my course to thoroughly cover the underlying mechanics of the body lead me to narrow down my choices based on teaching ratios, ranking, reputation and research output. Imperial College London stood out in 3 ways:

  1. Course content with a strong biochemical focus.
  2. Among the few medical schools that had full body dissections.
  3. An integrated BSc year.
These were also the components that made the university unique. Two elements that distinguished the medical course at Imperial College London were the people and the approach to medicine. Through lectures, labs and abundant opportunities to get involved in real research, I felt encouraged by the university to aspire to contribute as a clinician locally and as a scientist globally. The relevance of sociology and psychology in healthcare was highlighted through coursework that required drawing parallels between my regular visits to a patient and the theories I learnt in lectures. The wide spectrum of material also meant that lecturers included doctors, surgeons, NGO workers, psychologists and patients themselves! Amazingly, most of them readily answered any questions after their presentations and in emails weeks after they had been held.

Moving to a new country to start university was at times difficult. As a student from abroad, Imperial College London’s international student support office can provide you with assistance. Attending their international student orienteering weekend provided information that was tailored to me and allowed me get comfortable with the city. London is expensive and very busy but you are spoilt for choice due to the city’s size, with public transportation able to get you almost anywhere.

International students are embraced at the university and I found that when I was not treated like everyone else, it was because people were celebrating my culture. With over 340 societies it was easy to find others who shared my interests and whenever I longed to meet people of similar background, I went to the German society events.

Imperial College London challenged me to grow as an academic and a person, with the city enabling me to explore new places and cultures. I await the forthcoming years with restlessness, eager to further immerse myself in both this wonderful capital and its university.

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