To study in a foreign country

Each year, thousands of students are deciding to study abroad and hundreds have chosen to study medicine in a foreign country. This decision is based on a wide range of substantial  benefits, however, there are also a number of challenges and quite a few concerns. Therefore, to understand the significance and implications of such a step, it is important to explore and to recognize the possibilities of the starting conditions for acceptance, from foreign language knowledge requirements, and to the content, conditions and level of studies themselves.

Terms of admission

Many students who want to go to medical school in their home country are facing higher and very strict admission requirements which makes  it a nearly impossible quest. However, there is definitely an option to go to medical school with a very high academic level in Europe and countries recognized by the Ministry of Health in the relevant country. It is important to know that in most cases the admissions criteria for medical studies abroad is much easier than in the US. The conditions include mostly full matriculation tests, personal knowledge of relevant subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry, as well as a personal interview and language tests. However, it is important to note that the admission to study medicine abroad vary between countries and academic institutions, so it is important to gain information on the relevant institution and prepare in accordance with the specific requirements.

Additional benefits when you study abroad

Apart from the opportunity to apply directly to a medicine program, studying abroad opens a wide array of advantages. First, it is an empowering experience that provides a rare opportunity  to experience other cultures and meet people from all over the world. This experience gives you tools to be independent, and contributes to the development of high performance in a foreign language. In addition, studying abroad opens up opportunities to build a career in a foreign country as well as in your home country. After graduating from any of the world’s leading medical institutions, there are more options and a broader spectrum of opportunities.

Concerns about starting to study in a foreign country

Naturally, the transition from a learning environment and a new living atmosphere is stressful and raises quite a few concerns associated with learning difficulties, social life and economic capability. It is important to know that indeed you will meet some of these challenges and you will need to deal with them. One thing is that many students abroad experience intense longing to their home country, family and friends. However, shortly after the start of the school year, there is so much to think about, so many friends are being made and the excitement of living in a different culture take over.

And with the technology today, is is very easy to stay in contact with friends and family, the world has indeed gotten very small.

Other challenges when you study abroad

Studying medicine abroad have many advantages but could also pose some problems. First, in many cases, as in Eastern Europe, it can be difficult to work but you need to pay the tuition costs in advance.  Moreover, even in countries where you can work in Western Europe, there are high living costs and mostly students have very little free time to work, especially in the early years. Moreover, you will have to deal with adjustments, language and mentality differences. This is a challenge that could be experienced as positive but it is of course still a challenge.

Language of medical studies

In different countries there are medical studies in the local language or they have special medical programs in English. Of course, if you choose an English speaking country like England, Australia or the United States, English would be the language of instruction. However, in Western European countries like France, Italy or Spain are generally held in the local language school, although there are some individual institutions such as the University of Charles in Italy who have a unique track in English. In addition, many countries in Eastern Europe such as the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Lithuania offer programs in English, but some of them like Hungary, you will still need to take a course in the local language to communicate with patients and colleague locals. Whether it is local or English language, medical school applicants must pass an examination of a foreign language.

Choosing an academic institution

There is a large number of academic institutions in the world open to foreign students, who want to study medicine. To select the appropriate institution in the relevant country, there are a number of important basic parameters that should be examined:

• Choice of overseas university recognized by the Ministry of Health.

• Check admission requirements of the academic institution and examine your personal ability to meet those requirements.

• Examination of the reputation of the institution, the level of medical education it provides, teaching methods practiced there, the atmosphere in it and being recognized and appreciated by the professional bodies in the country and abroad. The test should be performed using the recommendations of as many factors, including students who are studying or studied in the institution requested .

• Language Teaching course – whether English or another local language.

• Tuition costs and living expenses – it is important to include as many details as expected, including travel, rent, purchase of books and school supplies, food and medical insurance costs.

• Examination of the various funding sources during their studies, such as employment opportunities, promotions living in dormitories, or eligibility for scholarships.

• Priority should be given to an academic institution that provides personal attention to their students, both the teaching staff and the administrative aspect.

• Social life – you may want to check if there were students from your own country who applied for the same university. Also, you would want to know what the social life is like, in the city you are going to spend your studying years at.

• Urban infrastructure – it is important to find out if there is regular public transport available and convenient to and from an educational institution.

• Register for more than one institution, and finally chose the right place and the most suitable for you.