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Articles categorized as ‘Australian Medical Schools’

Friday, July 19th, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: The Worst Part of Studying Abroad

Hi, everyone!

My Nanny

Not going to lie—this post isn’t going to be the happiest one, and I would be lying if this story made me change my opinion on studying abroad.

Last night my Mom and I were texting, I had been in medical school “exam mode” for a few weeks so admittedly had neglected my family time and we were finally catching up. As it turns out, I missed the news that a couple days earlier my Nanny had been admitted to the local hospital (Spoiler alert: She’s fine, happy, healthy and back at home!).

But to frame this story, I first want to tell you a bit about my Nanny. She’s a 93-year-old woman who’s sharp as a whip, 85 lbs of pure stubborn independence, and I’m honoured to share her name. My Nanny grew up in a different time. She’s watched the world modernize. She helped raise her siblings. She eventually became a nurse, so caring for others is more in her nature than caring for herself let alone asking for help. She was an integral part in my childhood—always over filling our dinner plates, caring for her family and aging husband. It took a lot of coercion to move her out of the county and closer to us, and she still lives as independently as possible. Dad needs to install her window AC unit in her apartment in the summer. She’s spunky, full of life, and stubborn in the best ways. In short, I want to be her when I grow up.

Nanny has had her fair share of pneumonia, a few falls, and the standard aches, pains, and problems of aging. With her fierce independence, we’ve had to intercept her walking herself home from the hospital more than once. She never wants to be a bother in the late afternoon knowing my Dad is at work.

So when my parents received a call from her at 4 in the morning, they knew it was something major. Nanny had a couple falls during the evening. She described losing the feeling in her legs before the falls, but now at 4 a.m. the feeling hadn’t come back and she needed help. My Dad carried his mother, now smaller than both his daughters, into his truck to take her to the hospital. I have to say as a budding medical professional, I’m so happy with the care my Nanny received there. They figured out that she had a recent cold and had been prescribed cold meds that contained codeine, which was just a bit much for her system to handle. They did all the right scans to rule out all the scary potential causes, and kept her for the rest of the night so that she would be safe while the meds left her system. Surprisingly, one of the doctors even managed to convince Nanny to consider a walker. We’ll see how that goes over with Miss Independent.

All in all, a very good ending to something that could have been really scary. Thank you for listening to the lamenting of a girl who adores her aging Nanny.

Now how does this relate to studying abroad? Well, because I’m across the world I didn’t know about this right away. Because I’m in Australia, I couldn’t be there. I couldn’t bring her tea the way she likes it (sugar and a pinch of milk), couldn’t tease her about calling us sooner. Because I chose this degree in this country, I also couldn’t be there for my parents, making them breakfast after an unexpected early morning before having to go to work, or greet my dad with coffee the way he likes (Double Double).

I wanted to share this story because it was a scare that I had considered but didn’t think would happen to me. When I chose to study abroad, I knew I would be missing birthdays and anniversaries. I knew missing the happy things would make me sad, but I didn’t think about how missing the scary or sad events would make me feel guilty.

My parents—of course—don’t blame me. Nanny didn’t wonder why I wasn’t there. They all love and support me and are proud of me for pursuing my dream. When Nanny is up to it, my parents are going to bring a laptop over to Skype with her so I can say hi! I write her letters. She knows she’s loved.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I wouldn’t change my decision. Coming to Australia has been a life-changing step in the right direction for me. But I wanted to share this—luckily—happy ending with you so you’re aware that sometimes not being home sucks and it’s not for the reasons you always expect.

Emma

First-year Macquarie Medical School student
Follow Emma’s journey on Instagram! @emmab_md

Monday, July 15th, 2019

What happens after medical school? Don’t miss our next Medical Residency Options webinar

Finding out what comes after medical school is a big deal.

Australian medical schools

Applying to an Australian medical school?

To help make the process a little smoother, OzTREKK hosts Medical Residency Options webinars to assist future Australian medical school students to understand the ins and outs of returning to Canada and the USA, or staying in Australia as an international medical graduate.

OzTREKK is here to help you understand the process! We have now confirmed our next Medical Residency Options Webinar to help explain

  • the latest information on the licensing process in Canada, the US and Australia;
  • the pathways to becoming a doctor in Canada, the US and Australia;
  • the process of how to apply in Canada, the US and Australia to become a doctor;
  • the latest information and statistics on the Canadian residency match, the US residency match, and the Australian internship and residency match;
  • information about the licensing examinations in Canada and the US—what they are, when you need to sit them, and the application process; and
  • the latest developments and news related to licensing and accreditation from the various forms of government and medical bodies in Canada, the US, and Australia.

OzTREKK Medical Residency Options

You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers!

Next Medical Residency Options
Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Time: 7 p.m. (Ontario time)
Register here

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Would you like more information? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Amanda Rollich at medicine@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: Taking dogs to Australia

When people heard that I was planning to take my dogs with me to medical school in Australia many thought I was crazy. But the truth is, even before I applied to school in Australia, I had already looked up to make sure I could take my dogs. They are a part of my family and going without them was never an option.

Are you considering taking your dogs to Australia?

Thinking about taking a dog (or cat) over is a daunting process, but I want to reassure you it is possible! The biggest thing to know is the timeline of events and to understand the costs.

First up, timeline

Take a look at the Government of Australia Department of Agriculture website http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs for all of your timeline specific questions. I will go through a little bit of the important information for you. When you click on the link, you will input the species (dog/cat) country of export (Canada) and date of export. I put in January 6, 2020 seeing as many programs in Australia start the end of January. It will then generate a schedule of events, like the one drawn up for me (as your example).

You can click on each one of the links (e.g., “Visit your vet”) and it will tell you exactly what you need to do during that visit. Pretty straight forward, hey? Yes, in essence it is very straight forward. In reality, things can get complicated.

First of all, take note of the dates in the timetable. If you’re planning to take your dog over in the beginning of January, your first vet visit needs to be in the next 10 days. I didn’t know about this calculator until much later than June of last year so don’t panic. The first visit is just to check microchip number and confirm rabies vaccination. Most dogs should be up to date on their rabies vaccination regardless.

The important thing to not miss this summer is the second vet visit (in this calculator it says July 10) and that is for a blood test for rabies. The blood needs to be drawn a minimum of 180 days before the dog can set foot in Australia and they are very strict about these dates. Also, the blood test is $400 (I for one was surprised by the cost for a blood test, but it is what it is). I had this blood test done for both dogs before I even knew I was accepted to school (that didn’t come until the end of August). So sometimes it’s a bit of a gamble if you want to bring your dogs in January. Of course, they can come later if you want to wait to get confirmation of acceptance first.

Taking my dogs with me was worth it!

Second thing I learned the hard way—get the test for Ehrlichia canis early! This is a test for a tick disease that is quite common in tropical areas, but dogs can get it in lots of different climates. This test is performed (as per their schedule) a week before the dog is going to travel. One of my dogs came back positive for it, I got the news on Christmas Eve and the vet said he might never be able to go to Australia. It was one of the worst days I can remember. We were able to treat it with antibiotics (30 days) and when we retested him he came back negative. However, it is difficult to treat because the test they require looks for the antibody count rather than the active bacteria, meaning my dog didn’t have any symptoms but had the leftover antibodies because he had the bacteria years before I ever rescued him from Mexico. There is no guarantee that treating a dog that tests positive will lower their antibody count enough to test “negative.” If you go online to web forums you will find that this surprise a week before travel is not all that uncommon. There are tons of stories just like mine where the owners are floored, travel plans have to be altered, and emotions run high.

Now, just because your dog has tested negative to Ehrlichia canis early (say this summer) you still have to repeat the test a week before travel; however it should hopefully avoid the panic and heartache that I experienced. You will have your dog on tick medication from this summer up until the travel so it should avoid any surprises.

Second up, cost

Taking a dog to Australia is not cheap, and there’s no way around it. But it’s doable and completely worth it! Here is the cost breakdown (very rough):

Rabies test: $400
Flea/tick meds: $70
Each vet visit: ~$70 (x5 total vet visits)
Other tests required (Ehrlichia, lepto, etc.): ~$300
Microchip: ~$100 (I forget the exact cost)
Application permit fee: $1200
Flight (they have to fly directly into Melbourne): ~$1100
10 days of quarantine: ~$400
Airline-approved dog crate: ~$80
Total: ~$3900

Keep in mind this breakdown is very rough and varies by vet, flights, if you already have a microchip, etc., but it’s good to have a rough idea.

I would do the process again in a heartbeat

We used a wonderful company called Worldwide Animal Travel to help with this whole process. They helped organize all of the paperwork, double checked that we had the correct lab results, vet signatures, took the forms to get the government approval, etc. They’ve done this a million times and really know what they are doing. Think of them like OzTREKK for pets! They even have an office at the Vancouver airport where the dogs got to be out of their crate relaxing before the flight. They took them for a walk, fed them dinner, sent us picture updates and then put them on the plane. The peace of mind knowing we weren’t alone in this process was well worth the money. I believe the cost difference working with them compared to doing it on our own was about $2000 (for both dogs).

Our journey with the dogs was far from straightforward and got so much more complicated when we were in Australia and the dogs were back in Canada (delayed because of Brek’s positive Ehrlichia canis result). We had to reset the dogs’ travel dates three times. With each change of date we had to redo different tests because they are only valid for a set number of days before travel. Thank goodness I had Worldwide Animal Travel to fall back on because otherwise I would have been even more overwhelmed in the first few months of medical school trying to organize vet visits while I’m halfway around the world. This is in no way sponsored by them (although I would have happily agreed to that lol). They did a phenomenal job helping us out at such a stressful time and I am so thankful we had their support.

I could go on and on about every detail regarding taking dogs to Australia. It was a very long and somewhat tedious process. I know ours was especially complicated (you can read a bit more on my instagram page @noborders.md), but it was completely worth it! The dogs did wonderful and they survived the 10-day quarantine. They were of course very excited to see us but they didn’t have any signs of distress or maltreatment. You aren’t allowed to visit them during quarantine, but you can call them daily and ask for updates (which I did).

I know this process seems scary and a bit overwhelming, especially on top of moving your entire life around the world. But take it day by day, one vet appointment at a time, and just use the website as a checklist. If you’re able to afford some help, I recommend talking with Worldwide Animal Travel; I believe they have offices across Canada.

Having your dog(s) over here when you’re in school is incredible! It makes this place feel so much more like home and it’s such a great balance to the grind of school. I would do the process again in a heartbeat. I hope this brief introduction helps clarify some of aspects of bringing dogs over. If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Cameron
First-year Griffith Medical School student
Follow Cameron on Instagram! @noborders.md

Friday, June 14th, 2019

UQ Faculty of Medicine Meet & Greets in Canada

What does it take to get into medical school?

University of Queensland medical school

Learn more about this event and save your spot!

Join the Head of the UQ MD Program Admissions Dr Fabiola Aghakhani Zandjani-Martin and Manager International Faculty of Medicine Ms Cecile McGuire for an upcoming UQ Medicine seminar!

Learn more about the University of Queensland’s Doctor of Medicine program, admissions requirements, program structure, clinicals and opportunities, and how you can practice in Canada after graduation. Discover how the University of Queensland is turning high-achieving Canadian students into world-class health professionals. Parents and friends are welcome to attend.

UQ Faculty of Medicine Meet & Greets

Get your questions answered!

University of Toronto
Tuesday, June 18 | 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Hart House, East Common Room

University of Calgary
Wednesday, June 19 | 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Science Theatre 128

University of British Columbia
Thursday, June 20 | 6 – 7:30 p.m.
UBC Robson Square, C400

Don’t forget to RSVP to save your spot!

As an official Canadian education agent for 14 Australian and New Zealand universities, OzTREKK provides personalized and exceptional service to thousands of students. No matter where your study interests lie, we are committed to helping you achieve your goals. We are proud to assist you at every stage—from application to arrival—for free.

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Would you like more information about the upcoming UQ Faculty of Medicine info sessions? You got it! Email OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Amanda Rollich at medicine@oztrekk.com.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: Life doesn’t stop when you’re in medical school

Griffith Medical School student Cameron Bowers would like to share some valuable advice for everyone considering studying medicine in Australia!

Griffith Medical School

Life doesn’t slow down when you’re in medical school!

We are so focused on the future.
I just need to finish my undergrad, then I’ll…
I just need to study for the MCAT, then I’ll…
When I finish with med school applications, then I’ll…
After I get prepared for medical school to start I’ll…
Once I get settled into med school I’ll…

But the truth is that life doesn’t ever really settle down, especially in this career that is so future-focused. It’s always about the next degree, the next exam, the next placement, the next specialty.

I was naïve in thinking that life would somehow magically settle down once I was finally in medical school, a goal I’d been working towards for years. That my days would just be classes, study groups and late nights of self-studying. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things happen, but life doesn’t stop just because you’re in medical school.

All of the normal stressors are there, just take away energy and time to deal with them.

When you go abroad for school you add new issues to deal with. They say Canadians actually have the hardest time with culture shock because it feels so similar to Canada here that it’s easy to forget it’s a different country—until something very different happens. Take holidays for example. Fun fact in Australia, all the supermarkets are closed on certain holidays (e.g., closed Good Friday but open Easter Sunday and Monday). It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you forget that all grocery stores in the country are closed on a certain day it can be rather difficult to get the last ingredients you need for dinner, potentially leading you to buying mozzarella cheese from a pizza restaurant.

When you’re far away for school your friends and family’s lives don’t stop either. Things happen and you suddenly have to learn how to deal with it while being 16 hours in the future. Phone calls and texts require an eight-hour delay sometimes for a reply. The best time to call home is in the morning, but those moments are limited because classes start at 8:30 a.m. most days. By the time you’re out of class at 4 p.m. it’s too late to call North America.

medical students

Try to take time for some adventure!

The truth is it’s hard to manage it all while attempting to stay on top of school. A lot of times I put school first and my to-do list grows week to week, but the pace of medical school doesn’t allow for anything other than full focus. I laughed the other day remembering what is was like to procrastinate when I was in my undergrad. There’s no option to procrastinate in medical school. You stop for a minute and everyone has already ran past you.

I wish I could offer some concrete advice for how to manage it all, but the truth is I am still trying to figure all this out. Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world: exercising, studying effectively, marking off my to-do list, eating healthy, making time for my relationship, making time for myself. But other days attending seven hours of lecture with only a 30-minute break in the middle is all I can accomplish and I try to tell myself that it’s okay.

It’s okay to not have all the answers right now. It’s okay to not pre-read for lectures for the sake of sleep the night before. It’s okay to have breakdowns and let it all out. It’s okay to wake up the next morning and be excited that you’re in medical school and one day you will become a doctor.

So for now, all I can say is wherever you are in your life and your career journey, try to be present and enjoy it. Life doesn’t happen in the future, and learning to be present, while never easy, is so important because none of us has a guarantee of what the future will bring.

Cameron
Griffith Medical School student

Follow Cameron on Instagram! @noborders.md

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Would you like more details about Australian medical schools? Contact OzTREKK’s Medicine Admissions Officer Amanda Rollich at amanda@oztrekk.com to learn more about your options!

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

When do I have to write the MCAT in 2019?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess the examinee’s problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.

Australian medical schools

Are you getting ready to write the MCAT?

If you would like to apply to an Australian medical school for the 2019 intake, you’ll be required to sit the MCAT, as it is a prerequisite for most medical programs. That means you’ll have to pay attention test dates and the score release dates!

When do I have to write the MCAT in 2019?

Keep the score release dates in mind when you are registering, as you will need to have your MCAT score at the time of application to medical schools in Australia!

Test Date  Score Release
Saturday, May 18, 2019 Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Friday, May 31, 2019 Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Saturday, June 1, 2019 Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Saturday, June 15, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Friday, June 28, 2019 Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Saturday, June 29, 2019 Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Saturday, July 13, 2019 Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Friday, July 19, 2019 Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Saturday, July 20, 2019 Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Friday, August 2, 2019 Wednesday, Sept 4, 2019
Saturday, August 3, 2019 Wednesday, Sept 4, 2019
Friday, August 9, 2019 Tuesday, Sept 10, 2019
Saturday, August 17, 2019 Tuesday, Sept 17, 2019
Friday, August 30, 2019 Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Saturday, August 31, 2019 Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Friday, September 6, 2019 Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Friday, September 13, 2019 Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Saturday, September 14, 2019 Tuesday, October 15, 2019

MCAT dates for Australian medical programs for 2020 intake

OzTREKK note: If you are sitting on May 18 and wish to apply to Sydney, UQ, UWA and/or Melbourne, please create a calendar reminder for yourself to ensure you submit your scores to Amanda immediately once they are released!

Deakin University Medical School

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: Varying rounds – March 14 / June 28 / October 31, 2019
Last date to sit MCAT: No set deadline

If you have not written your MCAT yet, but have registered, you can submit your MCAT registration confirmation email in lieu of your MCAT. Then, once you receive your scores, we can submit your score report to Deakin.

Flinders University Medical School

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: Rolling admissions. The earlier you apply the better
Last date to sit MCAT: There is no deadline, but we recommend sitting as soon as possible or before August.

Griffith University Medical School

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: August 30, 2019
Last date to sit MCAT: July 20, 2019

James Cook University Medical School

Program: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery
Application deadline: August 30, 2019; however, candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible.
Last date to sit MCAT: MCAT not required

Macquarie University Medical School

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: August 30, 2019
Last date to sit MCAT:Saturday July 20, 2019

Monash University Medical School

Program: Bachelor of Medical Science / Doctor of Medicine (Graduate Entry)
Application deadline: July 26, 2019
Last date to sit MCAT: MCAT not required

University of Melbourne Medical School

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: June 27, 2019
Last date to sit MCAT: June 1, 2019

University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: June 14, 2019
Last date to sit MCAT: May 18, 2019 – If you are sitting on May 18, we will need your results the same day you receive them.

University of Sydney Medical School

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: June 19, 2019
Last date to sit MCAT: May 18, 2019 – If you are sitting on May 18, we will need your results the same day you receive them.

University of Western Australia Medical School

Program: Doctor of Medicine
Application deadline: May 30, 2018
Last date to sit MCAT: May 18, 2019 – If you are sitting on May 18, we will need your results the same day you receive them.

For complete details about the MCAT, please visit the official MCAT website.

Entering an Australian medical school straight from high school?

If you are in high school, you can still apply to an Australian medical school—and you don’t need to sit the MCAT! The following Australian medical schools offer medical programs that international students may enter directly from high school:

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Would you like more details about studying medicine in Australia and about the MCAT? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Amanda Rollich at amanda@oztrekk.com for more information.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Don’t miss our next Medical Licensing webinar May 8

So you already know Australian medical schools offer high-quality education and clinical training in an amazing setting! Studying medicine in Australia is a great experience and can really help you appreciate the worldwide aspect of health, since many clinical placements are offered around the globe.

Australian medical schools

Don’t miss our next OzTREKK Medical Licensing webinar!

But we also know choosing to study medicine abroad comes with a ton of concerns, one of the most common being, How do you return to Canada to practice?

OzTREKK is here to help you understand the process! We have now confirmed our next Medical Licensing Webinar to help explain

  • the latest information on the licensing process in Canada, the US and Australia;
  • the pathways to becoming a doctor in Canada, the US and Australia;
  • the process of how to apply in Canada, the US and Australia to become a doctor;
  • the latest information and statistics on the Canadian residency match, the US residency match, and the Australian internship and residency match;
  • information about the licensing examinations in Canada and the US—what they are, when you need to sit them, and the application process; and
  • the latest developments and news related to licensing and accreditation from the various forms of government and medical bodies in Canada, the US, and Australia.

OzTREKK Medical Licensing Webinar

Date: Wednesday, May 8
Time: 7 p.m. EDT / 5 p.m. MDT / 4 p.m. PDT
Register now!

You have questions we would like to answer!

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Would you like more information about studying medicine in Australia? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer at medicine@oztrekk.com!

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Australian medical school rankings 2019

When you consider studying at an Australian medical school, one of the first things that may pop into your mind is, Will the quality of education be the same?

study medicine at an Australian university

Learn more about Australian medical schools

The short answer is yes. Absolutely.

There are medical schools here in Canada, so why do so many Canadians consider studying in Australia? Because Australia and Canada share similar medical systems, similar medical education, and similar medical issues.

Australian medical schools offer high-quality education and clinical training in an amazing setting! Studying medicine in Australia is a great experience and really helps students appreciate the worldwide aspect of health, since many clinical placements are offered around the globe.

Another great reason to study in Australia is because of their incredible world rankings. Australian medical schools are world-ranking, with four of OzTREKK’s university partners in the top 50 in the world. These are not second-rate institutions, so don’t be worried that you will get a mediocre education.

The QS World University Rankings has recently released its 2019 rankings by subject, and here are the basics regarding how our Australian medical schools stacked up:

World Medical School Rankings 2019

Australian Medical Schools
Canadian Medical Schools
13th University of Toronto
19th McGill University
30th University of British Columbia
43rd McMaster University
(4 OzTREKK Australian medical schools in top 50)
(4 Canadian medical schools in top 50)
QS World University Rankings by Subject: Medicine, 2019

Learn more about Australian medical schools

Every year, we assist hundreds of Canadian students choose the right Australian medical school program. We understand admissions requirements and application procedures to Australian medical schools, and we can guide you through the differences between undergraduate streams and graduate-entry streams, and the considerations for practicing medicine following graduation.

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Would you like more information about studying medicine in Australia? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer at medicine@oztrekk.com!

Monday, March 4th, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: Getting around Sydney

So I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a good transit system. I know that seems really random, but hear me out!

Macquarie University Medical School

Follow me on Instagram!

I think you can learn a lot about a city, it’s infrastructure, and it’s people just by observing the transit system. As someone from a small city in Ontario (with kind of a laughable transit system) my only exposure to large city transit has been Toronto. I know I can hear the groans, but honestly I don’t think Toronto transit is that bad… for the most part things are on time and you can usually get to where you need to go easily.

But boy oh boy, was I in for a treat when I moved to Sydney. The transit here is—so far—impeccable. I’ll go into the details in a bit, but first I want to address that I understand this is pretty Sydney-specific, so USyd and Macquarie University, you’re welcome. For all of you reading who know you won’t be living in Sydney, scroll down to the last section for my general tips, tricks, and some links!

Types of Transit in Sydney

Throughout Sydney you have your standard busses, and of course it’s a large city so there are also inner-city trains (think subways but better), and Sydney is built around a harbour, which means ferry boats (McDreamy is swooning—I just know it)!

To board any of the transit you can use an Opal card. For anyone in the GTA it’s the same as a Presto Card. You can load the Opal cared with a specific amount of money or connect to a credit card. To board you simply tap on, and tap off—even the busses! Opal also has an app for iOS and Android which you can use to monitor your balance, plan routes, and see live updates of bus timings.

Ferry Boats

While you probably won’t use ferries for your day-to-day commute, they are a must for the days you have free to do some gallivanting and be a real tourist. My first view of the Sydney Opera House was when I took the ferry from Milsons Point to Circular Quay and I definitely recommend it.  If you’ve been on a ferry before I don’t know that these boats will be any different. I have to admit my ferry experience is limited. Weather permitting, try to be near the front of the line so you can stand at the front of the boat for the best views.

A cheap tourist trick is to take the “slow ferry” (the lines are labelled, don’t worry), for the entire route. You’ll see all the different docking points and get all the great views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. All from the water which is just gorgeous! Remember to wear sunscreen during that trip for sure!

Busses

Busses are much more likely to be your main mode of transit day in and day out. I know that sounds like a drag, but the busses here are actually really clean. In fact, all of the transit is. The bus stops are frequent enough you never have to walk too far. The bus routes overlap in a good way with more direct routes passing some but not all the stops, and while the busses may not be on time there is a transit app which is very accurate. Also, the busses are air conditioned, which makes them little oases on your trip about town.

Sydney is covered in bus-only lanes, which means that some routes (at least the one I’m lucky enough to live on) gets to dodge a lot of the Sydney traffic, meaning my commute to and from school doesn’t really change depending on the time of day.

I did realize there is a caveat to such nice and clean busses. They *technically* don’t allow food and drink on board. That’s not to say I haven’t been let on a really busy bus with a coffee, but that’s also not to say I haven’t been not allowed on because I’ve had a coffee in my hand. So if you want to bring anything other than water and it’s open in your hands, just be aware you’re playing with fire.

Macquarie University Medical School

Visiting the Sydney Opera House

Trains

The trains here were my first exposure to Sydney transit and they are beautiful. To me they are used like a subway but appear more like a GO train (again, references for my GTA peeps. Sorry!), but better!

I remember first standing on the platform and not being aware of how close the train was, because it was so quiet! Can you imagine a GO train or a subway sneaking up on you? That quietness continues inside, and riding in the trains is really quite pleasant. The quiet engine means it’s quiet inside. Generally, the people are polite and quiet too, and it’s really clear which stop you’re at and which you are approaching.

The trains are mainly above ground, but do go through the occasional tunnel so don’t entirely rely on your app for accurate location readings. Just make sure you keep track of the stops and you’ll be fine!

The coolest thing about the Sydney trains is that you never have to sit backwards! In the middle of each carriage, the backs of the chairs are on hinges that let them flip so you can always face the direction of travel. I received some really funny looks when I purposefully sat backwards to avoid sitting beside a stranger, and I could have avoided the interaction and still faced forwards. It’s the little things in life really.

What Sydney Does Well

So to summarize all that gushing, here’s what I love about the Sydney transit:

  1. Opal! – The Card and the app. It’s easy to pay, it’s easy to navigate, it’s a plus.
  2. Air conditioning – making your commute cooler with each trip.
  3. Cleanliness – It’s honestly so nice to sit on a bus that doesn’t smell*

*I have been on one bus that was a bit musty… but it was also full of high school students who appeared to have just left gym class… so I’ll let you be the judge of that.

My General Tips and Tricks

  1. USE IT. Try it out when you first arrive; it will help your adjustment so much. I know it can be really intimidating to understand any new city let alone how to get around, but the only way you’ll master it is by trying. So when you first arrive, make a point of using the transit to find your school, a shopping mall, popular tourist destination, or anything really. Make sure to give yourself lots of extra time these first few trips to make them a little less stressful, missing a bus your second day in your new home is a lot less stressful than missing the bus or getting lost on your first day of classes.
  2. ASK. Seriously, don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve had a few bus drivers save me from heading in the wrong direction. That can be a bit nerve-wracking for some people (me being one of them), but you can always ask any locals in your class Facebook pages, other OzTREKKers who were there before you, or any roommates/hosts you have. Find out how to pay, where you can buy a pass if you need one, and they can share any tips they have.
  3. BE PREPARED. For your first few adventures bring some change (just in case), have a fully charged phone (just in case), and write down the route and stops (just in case!). It makes it a lot less stressful and means you’ll be ready if the pass doesn’t work, you get lost, or your phone dies.

Exploring a new city can be really scary, so give yourself some time to get used to it. Honestly, feeling like I mastered the transit was the first moment I really felt like I could live here. It was a sense of freedom, independence, and belonging all rolled into one that I didn’t expect and I’m so happy I found it pretty quickly.

I know that was a lot about transit, but I hope you could get something from it!

See you in the next one! Bye!

Emma
@emmab_md

First-year Macquarie University Medical School student

Links*

*I quickly looked up these links. Be sure you do your own research if you’re moving to any of these cities, including Sydney! The information may have changed.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: My first impressions of Griffith Medical School

OzTREKK Ambassador Cameron Bowers has just begun her journey at Griffith Medical School, and she’s here to share her very first impressions!

Griffith medical school

First day at Griffith Medical School!

My first day

I’d been dreaming of the first day of medical school for years. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was so excited. I felt like a little kid on their very first day of school!

Truth be told the whole day felt surreal. It was a lot of different presentations by faculty welcoming and congratulating us on getting into medical school. They told us that our careers would be full of ups and downs, and stressed the reality that we would be in charge of people’s lives in a matter of years. I soaked it all up and with each “congratulations,” it started to feel more and more real.

The day ended with all of us standing and reciting our “Medical Students’ Affirmation.” It’s the equivalent of vows for medical school—promising to uphold respect for the profession we are entering, pledging to pursue our study of medicine with integrity and honesty, etc. I must admit that hearing ~160 students reciting these affirmations about our future was very powerful. It was the moment that made all of this feel real for the first time. I could feel the emotions mixing up inside, a combination of sheer joy, giddy excitement, fear of the unknown, and being overcome by the power of all of these voices together. We were all about to start something that would fundamentally change every single person in the room and yet no one could possibly know in which ways we would all evolve.

Some things I wish I had known

The first few weeks have been incredible, challenging, exhausting, exciting, and inspiring. It’s really fun to learn about a topic that I am so passionate about. It feels very different compared to undergrad (or grad school) because everything we are learning is applicable to a future patient. I think that might be why sometimes it feels more exhausting, because everyone is so keen to take in all of the information for fear we won’t know everything. But I am trusting in the curriculum to eventually get us to become competent physicians in four years (which at the moment still sounds surreal).

With all of that said, there are a few things that I wish I had known in the first few weeks:

Griffith University medical school

Enjoying the view — view of Griffith University campus from PBL rooms

1. Griffith undergraduate bridging program
Griffith has a two-year “bridge” program for Australian high school students to go directly from high school into a two-year medical science undergrad program. After those two years, the entire medical science cohort (~60 people) enters the medical school. This has a few implications:

  1. The age of the “med sci” students is young; I believe about 25% of my class is <20 years old.
  2. They have been in a program together for the last two years so they all already have friends and friend groups. This was a bit confusing to a lot of us Canadians on the first day as everyone appeared to already be in friend groups.

2. Anatomy labs
The anatomy labs (cadaver labs) are “self directed,” which means it’s a bit of a free-for-all. There are a number of second-year students you can ask for explanations or to clarify where something is, and they are fantastic! Seriously hard to imagine I will get to that level in just a year.

But other than that there is no structure. They give you a few pages as a lab worksheet to fill out the night before that outlines the main topics for the lab, but the actually learning is up to you. It’s definitely not like undergrad anatomy labs. You have to make sure you bring questions to ask, and be outgoing enough to ask those questions in a loud environment with lots of other people trying to learn using the same cadavers. It is an adjustment, but I’ve had three labs so far and it’s completely doable, just a bit of a surprise in week 1.

3. Griffith is amazing
I wish I had really understood how incredible Griffith University is and how they focus on creating well-rounded people, who are also fantastic doctors. I didn’t realized how unique Griffith Medical School is compared to other schools with regard to their focus on communication and the other “softer” part of being a great doctor (more on that to come in future blog posts!).

Overall I couldn’t be happier with my decision, and I am slowly settling into a schedule trying to work on finding balance between school, exercise, social life, and my relationship with my incredible husband.

If you ever have any questions about Griffith medicine, please feel free to reach out.

Until next time!

Cameron
@noborders.md