As part of our #FBMHStories feature for Instagram we chatted to Brandon Yeo, an international student from Singapore studying Medicine (MBChB).
How did you feel about moving to the UK? Was there something in particular you were worried/excited about?
Of course, I felt anxious and worried about moving to a completely different continent to study for five years of my life. Saying goodbye to my family and friends was the hardest thing I had to do. But the thrill of being able to experience a new way of life and a new culture, as well as get to know people from around the world, far overshadowed any fear or worries I had.
Why medicine and why Manchester?
Tons of reasons! For medicine as a subject, I didn’t actually decide on it until I was studying for my A-levels. I had always loved biology, and coupled with an innate desire to help people in a very tangible way, medicine just seemed like the perfect pick for me.
The University has such a good reputation globally, and when I did more research into the medical school at the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, I just got more and more convinced I should study here thanks to the large percentage of international students, the opportunity to dissect our own cadavers, and renowned lecturers and tutors from a diverse range of fields, just to name a few reasons.
The clincher for me was the interview process, when the panel of interviewers seemed genuinely interested in me as a person, not just my academic capacity. I knew when I left the room what my first choice would be.
What did you think of the Manchester lifestyle? Did you pick up any hobbies or interests here?
It did take me a while to get used to the slang people use in their daily conversations! I do love that people here are more laidback and friendly. I still marvel when I can go into a class with complete strangers and have people randomly come up to me to say hi and get to know me. I’ve picked up diving with BSAC, and have recently started kickboxing. I’ve also just had a poem inspired by Huntington’s chorea published in the MCR Global Health Poetry collection. It’s been a wonderful time of growth and learning outside of school.
What’s the most challenging thing about medicine so far?
The most challenging thing has got to be the sheer amount of content to learn. No number of horror stories from seniors will actually prepare you for the workload that arrives when you start medical school. I’m not one of those people gifted with exemplary long-term memory, so it takes me tons of repetition to get stuff into my head!
It’s hard work and if you want to do well, you’ll definitely spend more nights with your head in textbooks whilst your friends are out living it up.
What has been the most rewarding?
As a pre-clinical student, we don’t know enough to examine, diagnose or treat anyone properly. But what is rewarding is being able to apply my knowledge to daily situations that my friends and family face, and being able to give them advice (with a huge caveat of course) and educate them about their own bodies is an amazing feeling, especially when they start making changes for the better.
For example, one of my relatives used to not finish her course of antibiotics after a bad cold because she “felt better already”. I took time to sit down with her and explain the risks of developing antibiotic resistance in her own body. She took it seriously and now she’s adhering to her medications properly.
PS Antibiotic resistance is a HUGE issue in modern medicine. Inform your loved ones!
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is about to start their medicine degree, what would it be?
Just one piece? It would have to be…to keep the reasons why you wanted to do medicine in the first place close to your heart. There are days where the stress and workload make you want to give up. Remember that asking for help is not failure; there are so many people around who can help you – your classmates, tutors, lecturers and even family.
You have the ability, and you got this far. Keep the end in mind; it will all pay off soon.
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