One thing that all medical students look forward to at Cardiff is the final year elective- a period of 8 weeks where you get the chance to experience a particular area of medicine, almost anywhere in the world. It falls at a good time, after completing all exams, so the pressure is off, allowing for some rest and relaxation, alongside spending time on the wards.
Many students choose to jet off to exotic places across the globe. I think I currently have friends on most continents. It’s a great opportunity to travel and experience a different culture, as well as learning about the structure of other healthcare systems and witnessing how medicine is practiced in different settings.
I decided to swap one capital city for a larger one, and carry out my elective in London. Obviously I haven’t travelled quite so far afield as others, but I wanted to gain some experience in Public Health and London is one of the best places to do this. Public Health basically involves looking at ways to promote health and prevent illness on a societal level, rather than at the level of the individual. I’m exploring whether it might be an interest I’d like take further in the future and so an elective is the perfect opportunity to dip my toes into unfamiliar waters. I’m sure some of my friends will be dipping their toes into much warmer waters abroad and I’ll admit that I am slightly jealous of those in more tropical climates, but I’m having a great time here and am making the most of all that London has to offer.
I think one of the main differences from studying at school or college is that at university, there’s much more freedom to choose the things that really interest you. You may have committed yourself to a single subject, but it becomes a much broader discipline than at GCSE or A-level. As you progress through the course, you’re able to pick particular modules that appeal to you, essentially tailoring your degree programme according to your interests. There are even the opportunities to study that subject in different places, at home or abroad (as is the case with my elective), and I think they should always be taken.