Study Abroad and Exchange

A seismic shift halfway across the world

It’s just after midnight on a pretty typical January night in Toronto, Canada. There I sit, way back in row 55, staring out the airplane window at the fresh layer of powdery snow that has just fallen. As I’m watching the falling snow, and feeling the engine of the airplane rev and prepare for take off, I am suddenly hit by the reality of the situation, and the magnitude of the series of events that have led to this exact moment. There is an instant and overwhelming rush of emotions that were so powerful that I can still feel them to this day when I reflect on this moment. It is at this precise moment that I know that there’s no going back. I’m in it, and I’m in it for the long haul. Good thing I was already buckled up, because here we go.

If you’re a bit confused, allow me to explain. My name is Tiffany and I am a first year medical student here at Griffith. At the time of writing this, I have been here in Australia for exactly 2 months, but honestly it feels more like 2 weeks. I’m originally from a small city located about 2 hours outside of Toronto, Canada, and had lived there for my entire life up until the night that I just described in the beginning of this post.

For me, studying medicine internationally hadn’t always been in the plan. I am asked all the time if staying in Canada for medical school would have been an easier option. And there’s no doubt that it would have been the easier option. It goes without saying that the logistics alone make it a pretty straightforward decision. So why move halfway across the world? Why study medicine in Australia? And why Griffith in particular? Those answers are not so straightforward, and varies from student to student, but let me try to walk you through my personal reasons.

Studying medicine internationally, and in Australia in particular, didn’t even pop up on my radar until about halfway through my undergraduate degree. It was at a postgraduate career fair where I was first introduced to an agency called Oztrekk. They specialize in sending students over to study in Australia across a range of programs, including medicine. It was there that the initial seed of studying medicine in Australia was planted. After an unsuccessful Canadian application cycle in my final year of undergrad, I reached out to Oztrekk once again and began more seriously considering the option of studying abroad. At the time, I was considering two different (yet equally popular) international medicine pathways for Canadians- Ireland and Australia. After numerous discussions with family, friends, and a dear mentor of mine who also studied medicine in Australia, I ultimately decided to apply to Australia. The similarity of culture, the ability to stay to pursue postgraduate medical training, and of course the beautiful weather were just some of the many factors that lead me to choose to study in Australia.

So now, why study at Griffith? For me, the choice was relatively easy. In addition to the relative proximity of extended family and the incredible location of the Gold Coast, it was really the people who I spoke and interacted with from Griffith who made the choice relatively easy. Whether it was an upper year medical student or a school representative, it became evident very quickly that Griffith was an institution that would feel like a home away from home. Somewhere where I could thrive in all facets.

And so far? I believe that I have made the right decision. My life has flipped completely upside down from where it was a year ago, but in the best way possible. It was certainly a risk deciding to uproot my life halfway across the world to pursue this crazy dream of mine, but so far I truly think it’s been worth it.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for sticking with me through my first ever blog post. I had such a great time writing it and I hope to write many more in the future. If you have any questions for me or would like to chat further, please feel free to follow or message me on Instagram @tiffma23. Until next time!

– Tiffany Ma

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