International perspective: a Canadian in Ireland

By seeta.bhardwa@…, 26 April, 2017

Coming to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in 2012, after graduating from high school in Toronto, Canada, was my first time coming to Europe. I never thought that I would find a place as culturally diverse as Toronto, but I was proven wrong when I came to RCSI.

It is not difficult for international students to adjust because you are surrounded by other international students who are going through the same thing as you. They are also coming to terms with moving away from home for the first time and being in a new country, while also studying a rather difficult health sciences degree.

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I think the cultural societies at RCSI have helped me to adjust to academic life. For me, the Canadian-Irish Medical Students Association (CIMSA) has been great in terms of providing a platform for older students to guide younger students in working towards our future career goals.

Not only does RCSI provide high-quality medical teaching, students can also learn from each other about customs and practices from all over the world. In just five years, I have made friends from more than 15 different countries, developed a passion for photography, and learned to Bhangra dance (a traditional Punjab dance), all while becoming a doctor.

Two years ago I also had the opportunity to undertake an Erasmus placement in Almería, Spain, where I worked as a research assistant in a microbiology lab for eight weeks. This was my first time conducting research and working in a laboratory, and I had the best experience. Not only did I learn a lot about microbiology and the research process, but I also got to travel to the beautiful region of Andalusia and make friends from all over the world. One of my favourite parts about being in RCSI is being able to access the rest of Europe so easily, and I’ve travelled around as much as possible during my time here.

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I’m currently in the penultimate year of my degree programme, which is focused on clinical training. This consists of placements in the hospital (with some teaching mixed in). This is where students learn how to become doctors, since we get a much more holistic approach to medicine, including taking care of patients and applying all the theory we have learned to a real-life situation. I noticed that I started to think more medically once I began to be taught directly by the clinical doctors.

Before I came to RCSI, I always knew I wanted to do psychiatry. I have had the opportunity to get involved in extracurricular activities, which has confirmed my passion for mental health and my desire to practise psychiatry. 

The research aspect of the RCSI programme is an advantage. I would like to undertake research after I graduate, so it is great to be taught by people who are participating in research that will develop the field of medicine.

In the upcoming academic year, I plan to further enrich my experience here by continuing to form lifelong bonds with my peers and by becoming more involved in extracurricular activities, particularly as president of the RCSI LGBT Society and as a volunteer of a student-run listening and support service. 

Ireland is a beautiful country and Dublin is a student-friendly city. It is small but there are lots of students around. There is a lot on offer to students in terms of entertainment, food, bars and cafes, all of which surround the college. 


Moving from Canada to study at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has given Kineta Valoo plenty of opportunities to explore Europe

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