Hey everyone, I’m so excited because this is my first guest post! For a while I’ve wanted to do a post about studying medicine abroad as I know this is an option for a lot of people. Every year more and more UK students enrol in english taught courses across Europe so I thought it would be nice to feature an insight of this on my blog. I’m so grateful for my friend Habiba (@littmannandcoffee) for writing such an informative post which I can share on my blog. Be sure to follow her on insta (@littmannandcoffee) to follow her journey in studying abroad and other amazing insights into her life.
Below is her post, thank you Habiba 🙂
My name is Habiba and I am studying at the Medical University Sofia in Bulgaria. This is a little insight into my medical life and my journey so far.
I have the honour to put forward my experience of studying medicine abroad. I will discuss the pros & cons of studying abroad and also what encouraged me to pursue an education in a foreign country.
Here’s a small introduction about myself. I have always been somewhat of a nerd, a good student, great ‘SATS’ scores, great GCSE’s, head girl and senior prefect to name a few accomplishments. However, life wasn’t always as smooth, I went through my own fair share of trials and tribulations like we all do in our own ways. During my college education where I pursued A-levels things took a slight turn. I had many personal issues at the time along with just being diagnosed with clinical depression. I really did struggle with balancing my education & personal life. During my first year of A levels I received very unsatisfactory results. I decided to repeat the year and obtained good results, however I knew the chances would be slim to get accepted to study Medicine.
I am a very firm believer in whatever is meant for you, will find its way to you. In the October of 2015, a very dear friend contacted me to ask me about my future plans, here I discussed the recent events and told her how I was considering alternative options as I felt I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to get into Medicine. Here there is something you should know about me, I knew I wanted to study Medicine before I even knew what it was. As a little girl all I had dreamt of was wearing a white coat and saving lives. After the conversation I had a new conviction. I knew what I was supposed to do in life and I had to pursue this dream and make it my reality.
We all have different journey’s, that’s the beauty of life however if medicine is where you want to be then do not ever think ‘you’re not good enough’ as that is nothing but a myth. Before I knew it, Bulgaria was on my radar to study medicine.
The application process in Bulgaria was extremely simple, I used the assistance of an agency to make my life simple however the process can be done by yourself also.
The documents I was asked for were:
* • Proof of secondary school education
* • grades
* • Proof of address
* • Passport details
* • Passport sized photograph
I remember very clearly the first time I flew out to Bulgaria. It was as if it was yesterday. We were waiting patiently in the queue and I ended up behind my ‘now best friend’ but at the time a total stranger. Thinking back at it makes me laugh. All of us were eagerly waiting to embark this foreign journey, in a new location surrounded by new norms. Once we reached we were greeted by representatives of the agency who took us to our hotels and provided a brief presentation of the format over the next few days. They helped us with getting a mobile phone contract, finding apartments, creating a bank account, submitting tuition fees and finding our way around the city.
As per today the entry exams at the Medical University consist of English, Biology & Chemistry examinations. I passed the entrance exams and the rest is history.
The exam format in Bulgaria is extremely different to that of the UK. The majority of the exams are oral based and have a series of steps before you can reach the final stage AKA ‘oral/theoretical exam’
For example, our anatomy exam was as follows:
Stage 1 = MCQ exam
Stage 2 = Histology slides
Stage 3 = Practical exam (Anatomy lab)
The teacher would ask us to identify arteries/veins/insertions of muscles on the cadavers & sometimes theoretical information about internal organs if they were feeling really extra!
Stage 4 = Theoretical & Oral exam
These consist of 6 questions of a syllabus of 360 points! CRAZY IKR?!
We had to pick up a ticket from many that were scattered on the table, faced down. This ticket contained the 6 ‘topics’ from the syllabus we would be examined on.
Three of these topics are written (required no oral interrogations) and the remaining 3 are oral (where a professor would discuss your answers and ask you question). I was particularly scared for this part of the exam as there’s absolutely so much that the professors could ask you, and they expect an answer immediately otherwise they assume you don’t know it. The key is to provide a clear understanding of your thought process behind the answers along with the correct answer to ensure you obtain the maximum marks possible.
The Medical course in Bulgaria consists of 6 years and 1 semester, however that also includes the FY1 year which in the UK is separate from the ‘medicine’ course. Once we receive the medical degree from Bulgaria, the process to register with the GMC is very straightforward.
I have many friends who are studying medicine in the UK and we often talk about the similarities and differences. From my conversations I would say many things are very similar, the only differences I could think of would be the funding methods and the layout of the exams. As I am not studying in the UK I am unable to access the UK Student Loans scheme and my Bulgarian degree has to be self funded.
Overall, I have absolutely loved my past 4 years of medical studies in Bulgaria. I have formed many long lasting friendships and have learnt new skills that I wouldn’t have if I was in the UK. I’ve even learnt how to “pack sensibly”, something that my parents thought wouldn’t ever be possible!
The weather is absolutely beautiful with temperatures going up to 35 degrees in the summer, surrounded by the loveliest holiday destinations such as Turkey that is just a 10-hour train journey from Sofia! There are other popular locations that are within Bulgaria such as Varna, Sunny beach along with some amazing Skiing locations such as Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo that are extremely popular with British tourists! As my studies are now approaching an end with about 2 years remaining, I have really begun to appreciate and cherish what this undiscovered gem of a country has to offer.
If you are considering studying abroad then I would definitely say take the leap and do it! You may be putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation at first, but your future self will thank you for it!
As they say:
‘Challenge yourself, it’s the only path which leads to growth’
If you guys have any other questions for me then you can always drop me a DM @littmannandcoffee.