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Medical Student Experiences: Studying in Hong Kong

When the name University of Hong Kong is mentioned to a Hong Kong student, three words come to mind: prestigious, competitive and stressful.

It was no exception for me. The stressful and competitive environment was already imparted to me during my interview in December at the university. Like my other UK interviews, students were ushered into a small room, all looking frightened and nervous, or having a last peep at their interview guides they have bought on Amazon. I don’t tend to cram last minute, as it will just add to my racing heartbeat and sweaty hands, so I usually resort to talking to other students.

In the UK, it will probably be a discussion of the schools we go to, IB or A-Level grades. Yet, in my HKU interview, I found myself talking to graduate students from renowned universities, such as Oxbridge, who are applying to the very same spot I am going for. So a few words of advice for those who wish to apply:

Don’t worry about your competitors

Be prepared that students applying to HKU can be very diverse. There could be college, undergraduate or postgraduate students from HK, UK, US or other countries. Don’t let these factors scare or bother you, because it is you who dictates whether you are accepted or not, not the people around you whom most people might perceive as “competitors.”

Don’t panic about your interviewers

For non-JUPAS stream (ie. students who did not take the HKDSE examinations), there will usually be two interviewers on the panel. Usually, one interviewer will act as the good guy and the other, the bad guy, who might challenge your answers. Don’t fret! They are just there to test how you deal with unexpected, stressful situations, a bit like what A&E doctors have to deal with on a daily basis. Just try your best and apply what you know.

Life at HKU Medical School

Fortunately, life at medical school is less stressful…. at least for Year One students. You might not be convinced, after hearing so many stories of medical school horrors. However, let me tell you a bit of my experience.

HKU: Student Life

Three clichéd but true factors have led to my enjoyable university life – people, activities, course structure. Allow me to talk about one of the most important factors – the people. At first, it was quite daunting when you talk to your classmates and their self-introduction starts with – “Hi. I’m …., a pHD student from …” or “I did a molecular biology degree at Yale.” However, you come to realise that despite having done one or two more degrees than you, there isn’t a generation gap.

Furthermore, the diverse nature of students in my year, with them coming from different countries (UK/US/Canada etc) and from different backgrounds (undergraduate/postgraduate) helps stimulate interesting conversations and discussions during workshops and PBL classes. Of course, professors can’t be missed out. Their expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm during teaching really makes a difference in terms of how well we learn and retain the information.

HKU: Extracurricular Activities

Next up is the extracurricular activities. Many makes the wrong choice of not joining any committees due to their time-consuming nature, but I strongly encourage it! You get to meet more people and gives you a break from all those medical jargons and biochemical pathways.

HKU: Course Structure

Last but not the least is the course structure. HKU uses the problem based learning (PBL) approach, which I personally really enjoy. There are mixed opinions about PBL, but personally, I believe that through PBL, my critical thinking skills, teamwork, as well as communication skills have developed and enhanced, and will be useful in my future career.

All the best in your application and one day, I might see you on the campus!

Words: Charlene Chau

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