I would like to start this blog post by introducing myself briefly. Hello, I am Hongseo Choi, a second-year medical student studying at the University of Birmingham. In fact, I am an international student from South Korea. I also used to live in Cambodia, where I completed high school. I am delighted to share my experience through this blog post, representing Medsoc as an international representative for the academic year 2022/23. I hope this blog gives you a small insight into what it is like to be studying and living in Birmingham.
Birmingham Medical School community
The importance of socialising and making friends cannot be overemphasised. What I realised since starting university was that everyone is in the same position and is keen on making friends. I have made many amazing friends who are supportive and caring. We went to the city centre together (which only costs £1 by bus for students!) from time to time to have fun and time off studying. Moreover, in Birmingham Medical School and within the University, there are many societies for students to join, including but not limited to Sports, Academic and Music societies.
The University of Birmingham offers a countless number of study spaces. The medical school has its library and computer clusters which provide a perfect learning environment for all. Interestingly, Birmingham Medical School does not have a holiday. It is open 365 days a year from 7am to 10pm for students, which I found particularly helpful for my studies. University of Birmingham main library is also open 24 hours every day, except holidays.
Below, I have a few tips I gained whilst studying at the University which I would like to share.
Firstly, be organised and have a study plan: organisation and planning the week is essential, especially with a content-heavy course like medicine.
Secondly, find the balance: individuals often think that medical students will not have time to socialise and enjoy their hobbies, but this is certainly not the case. With consistency and hard work, it is possible to kill two birds with one stone!
Lastly, seek help whenever you need it: sometimes, it might not work out as you planned, and it is absolutely fine to seek support. We have substantial support available at the medical school.
The University of Birmingham considers students’ well-being as one of the priorities. The well-being team and Curriculum & Wellbeing Committees at Birmingham Medical school are dedicated to listen to students’ concerns and offer help as necessary. UBHeard is a confidential support service for all registered students that provides immediate emotional and mental health support 24h a day, 365 days a year.
Furthermore, students can discuss their academic and private concerns with a Personal Academic Tutor, who will suggest the most appropriate solutions. This is also where my role lies. The international representative is the first point of contact for all international students at Birmingham Medical School. As a mentor, I help students find solutions or signpost their concerns to relevant departments so that students can get assistance.
My experience as a Medicine student
As a medicine student, we have in-person classes every day at the Medical School, comprised of lectures, Small Group Teachings (in a group of 14 students), Anatomy Practical sessions and several visits to the prosectorium. This is a small transition from 2021/22, when most lectures were delivered online (due to the pandemic). We also start to see patients as early as week 2. In a year, students spend eight days with GPs and patients, relating biological and social theoretical learning to real clinical situations. A variety of pedagogy helps students to consolidate and apply the knowledge acquired throughout the course.
As we draw near the end of this post, I would like to wish the readers of this post the best of luck in the future.