Educating yourself in a foreign country is always a daunting task. You’ll be far from your comfort zone in terms of food, the people you love and the environment you’ll be in. When I first took the decision to enrol in the Bachelor of Dental Surgery curriculum in International Medical University, I had similar thoughts running through my head along with a million other questions which only added to my apprehension.
Most of my worries were put to ease in just the first few weeks though! I met people from all over the world! Everyone had a smile for me! As for the friends I made, they all went out of their way from day one to make me feel at home! They took me around and got me acquainted to the frequented hang out spots, taught me the local customs and some of the basic phrases in the local language (milo ais satu!) Soon, I forgot that I was indeed studying in a nation foreign to that of my country of nationality. I can honestly say that I’ve made some connections which I expect to last a lifetime and I’m going to miss many of my classmates dearly!
One of the biggest advantages of the campus is that it’s located right next to a train station. For me, this was a lifeline as I was able to traverse the city without a taxi and explore all the nooks and crannies. The on-site facilities include a Medical Museum, library, computer labs, a Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre and much more. Accommodation can be found just across the road from the campus in one of the many residential units in the area. For those who may be lazy to cook, restaurants are open until late – good for those nights spent cramming before the exams.
Malaysia itself is something that needs to be experienced first-hand! Kuala Lumpur is a true modern day metropolis which has somehow still retained its Asian roots. There are plenty of sights, sounds and local culture to take in. Don’t even get me started on the food! You’ll find some of the best variety of cuisines from anywhere in the world.
The dental course is completely taught in English with lecturers and professors hailing from different corners of the world. One of the first things that struck me as I started my first semester was the amount of emphasis the layout of the course places on different experiences. It’s not just dental lectures in a classroom. Right from the word “go”, I was taught in a variety of different ways. I remember one of our first classes being about the anatomy of the head and neck. Instead of sitting us down in a room and drilling the information into our heads via PowerPoint slides, the lecturers came up with a face painting class. We ended up painting the anatomical structures on each other’s faces. It was a blast and a great ice breaker as well! That’s just one example. The course is full of such innovative ways of learning! The dental curriculum really allowed me to work extensively with my hands. Student clinics started as early as the second year and the treatments I carried out got more and more complex. The lecturers made sure I was well guided and helped me slowly build my confidence throughout the year. It’s a fantastic feeling to look back and realise how much you’ve improved over the years.
The course includes a variety of postings to different clinics and hospitals, especially in the last couple of years. I learned a lot about the medical side of things as well as experienced first-hand how professionals deal with their patients on a regular basis. These postings had the additional advantage of providing me the opportunity to start networking with my future colleagues and building contacts which could prove useful during the course of my career.
Studying dentistry at IMU also allows an impressive amount of flexibility as well. You can choose to complete your entire five year degree in IMU itself, or transfer halfway through the course via a credit transfer programme to one of a number of universities in Australia, New Zealand or the UK, thereby completing the second part of your course overseas. It’s not all work though. IMU has a ton of extracurricular clubs. From the chess club to the gym club, there’s something to suit everyone’s palate. I ended up forming my own beloved futsal team with my best mates too! There are many opportunities to give back to the underprivileged in a variety of ways through community projects organised by the university. It’s one of the most rewarding things you could possibly experience and it’s something which had a profound influence on me. IMU also takes part in many inter-university competitions and conferences which give you the chance to meet your fellow dentists-to-be from other institutions.
Choosing IMU as my university of choice for pursuing my dream of getting a dental degree was, looking back, definitely the right decision. I have a smile on my face just thinking about all the fun I had during my 5 year long journey!