Our new interview is with Tom Protheroe – student of 3rd/4th year of General Medicine in Kosice. Story of Tom is unique, since he started to study medicine at Faculty of Medicine in Brno (Masaryk University, Czech Republic) and then decided to relocate to Faculty of Medicine in Kosice.
Hello Tom, thank you for accepting our invitation for interview. Can you please tell us few sentences about you?
I am a 23 year old, British guy that’s in my 3-4th year of medicine in Kosice.
I am learning Czech/Slovak and Swedish.
My hobbies include (other than medicine ;)) Rugby, Cooking, climbing/hiking and motorcycle riding.
You started to study Faculty of Medicine in Brno, then moved to Kosice. Why did you decide for Kosice Faculty since there are also other faculties in Slovakia, Poland or Hungary? Were there many arrangements necessary related to transfer and relocation to Slovakia?
In Masaryk I started very young, so I was all excited with the whole ‘University/Living on my own’ – hence I struggled with my first set of exams, in the first Christmas exam period. I managed to catch up but ultimately, if you struggled in one exam period you end up pushing your other exams back.. this eventually caught up to me in the 3rd year so I thought a change is needed – Hence I transferred to Kosice and managed to enter with the work-ethic that I developed over my first 3 years of medicine.. leading me to get into and start from a good position here in Kosice.
Hence I transferred to Kosice and managed to enter with the work-ethic that I developed over my first 3 years of medicine.. leading me to get into and start from a good position here in Kosice
I had to take the entrance exam in Kosice, then get all my results from my previous University authorized and certified here in Kosice; which enabled me to get exemptions for all the subjects I previously took in Masaryk.
Masaryk was a fantastic place for me to start my degree, I got into the study mentality fairly quick – it enabled me to carry this work-ethic into Kosice. I had friends that did the same as me, move from Masaryk to Kosice in the past and on the whole, all Masaryk transfers excelled; so that was the main reason for me to transfer to Kosice rather than elsewhere. I didn’t apply to any other Universities as upon visiting Kosice – the small, student city with beautiful nature (Tatra Mountains) suited me more than the hustle-bustle of the larger cities.
Can you compare how Czech and Slovak Faculty differ? What is the greatest difference?
Both the Czech and Slovak faculties greatly superseded my expectations. You often read about the ‘Czech and Slovak dislike of foreigners’ or heard from friends that they are ‘Xenophobes’ – this is certainly not the case. You obviously have the ‘bad-apples’ in every country – but on the whole I have not found that in my experience. I think the greatest difference are the people. Slovaks on the whole try to reach out more, I found that I’ve made more Slovak friends in the year that I’ve been in Kosice than the 3 I spent in Czech – maybe it was due to the confidence in their English abilities etc.. I don’t know.
Its also a tiny bit more expensive in Slovakia also, 1 beer costs €1.50 in Slovakia compared to around €1 in Czech!!
Slovaks on the whole try to reach out more, I found that I’ve made more Slovak friends in the year that I’ve been in Kosice than the 3 I spent in Czech – maybe it was due to the confidence in their English abilities etc.. I don’t know.
Were you afraid of anything when you decided to study medicine 4 years ago? How was the reality compared to your expectations?
Of course I was afraid, it’s a big big decision.. taking 6/7 years out of the country you grew up in, moving away from friends/family/girlfriend/boyfriend, you should only make this decision if you truly, 110% want to be a doctor – as when you find yourself having your 6th cup of coffee that day at 01am in the morning studying Microbiology you will often question yourself ‘did I do the right thing?’; then when you pass that exam, hearing the doctors say to you ‘you will make a fine physician’ then you know you made the right choice and continue to make the right choice.
What really does stick out for me, is that when you study internationally – you mix with so many other people, with different backgrounds, cultures, traditions, languages etc.. it will really broaden your mind of the world and the people within it.
We regularly have ‘meals’ together – where we all bring a ‘dish’ and share it.. this time 10 years ago I would have never expected to be sitting around a dinner table, with German, Israeli, Palestinian’s, Canadians.. etc. The amount of good quality friendships you will make when all striving for the same common goal is astronomical. Life long friendships will be made with people all around the world – will give you the opportunity for some amazing holidays in the future ;).
I expected to be feeling alone, all trapped in my room, missing my family, friends etc.. but you soon find yourself making friends all with similar aspirations – which will ultimately result in you forming better friendships that what you previously have.
It is difficult, missing family birthdays, anniversaries, family events etc – but if you have a supporting family, knowing that you are bettering yourself.. they will understand.
Tell us how is the level of education at Faculty of Medicine in Kosice.
I have experience of two medical faculties and the quality of education is phenomenal. Medicine is a tough subject, which is made even tougher if the teaching isn’t satisfactory. However in Kosice the doctors, lecturers, teachers want you to succeed. They give you the necessary information at the start of the course, ‘what books to use, what are the best sources of information..’ what was also nice is that they provide their emails should you have any questions when studying at home.
Not every subject is organized in a ‘fantastic’ manor, but the quality of the teaching is – what I mean by this is that sometimes you are left waiting to see when a ‘credit-test’ is or when to expect a ‘mid-term’ – whereas in other subjects you get told from the first lesson when the tests are.. so you can adequately prepare.
The main thing for me is that the Doctors/Teachers “WANT” you to succeed. They are consistently behind you, motivating you and when you do pass their subject they will praise you and if you’re lucky even say ‘you will be a good doctor’ – hearing those words really makes you work harder in the future – believe me on that.
Which subjects are your favourite and why? Which subject required the most time for preparation and do you remember your successful exam?
So far the organization and teaching within the Anatomy department here in Kosice is phenomenal.
The way the classes are organized are really well done. Each week you have a topic to ‘focus-on’, so you go to the lecture, you study at home and watch youtube videos etc.. then you come to your lesson in your small group and the teacher examines you on what you have learnt – sort of like an ‘informal-oral-examination’ (some classes have written but I only experienced orals). This allows the teacher to see how much you have prepared and allows you to see what the teachers are ‘interested in’.
Everyone’s favorite professor at Kosice is one of the Heads of Microbiology. His lectures are informative, straight to the point and, well amusing – which allows a ‘feel-good-study-vibe’ which is key when learning such a large subject.
Each class the professor has a topic and asks questions to the class at random to ‘probe-their-knowledge’.
Internal Medicine – Propeduetics is my favorite lesson so far though. The exam is oral, so they give you 45 questions to prepare for in the weeks leading up to your exam. So I read from their advised material, watched youtube videos and examined myself in a group of friends also having the exam on the same day. This ‘group-study’ is key, not when starting ‘new-things’.. but reviewing what you have previously learned; as it is almost always the case that you will know something that the others wont.. then they’ll know something that you didn’t know.
What have you learned so far thanks to studying medicine abroad? Have you ever considered to study medicine in your home country?
I learned that the world is bigger than just the United Kingdom.
Often when you spend your whole life predominantly in one country, you start to think that country is the centre of the world. Obviously I went on holidays and work-holidays to other countries – Africa, Australia, America, etc etc.. but its different.
I have learnt that maybe the United Kingdom isn’t necessarily the location of where I am going to work in the future. As being British – ive not really had the ‘urge’ to study a foreign language as everyone speaks English. Having learned Czech (to a certain degree) – you get the urge to learn another language and look at the possibility of moving to another country. The flexibility of the education you get in Slovakia is that your degree will allow you to work in other countries – not all degrees let you do this. So this is a big plus!
Imagine you are a tutor of applicant who are deciding to come to study to Kosice or continue his/her studies in Kosice. What would you recommend him/her to do in order to prepare for entrance examination and what should he/she arrange after being accepted?
Read your highschool Biology/Chemistry books. I know its not really good advice, but you will get the topics of the examination and I found all the topics overlap with my Highschool GCSE and A-Level courses.
I struggled with the timing in the Entrance exam, so make sure you time yourself adequately and don’t panic! Also bring a pencil and a rubber.. as I only had a pen and if you make a mistake.. you will NOT get another sheet.
If you move from a hustling-bustling family environment (like I did), I would advise trying to find a roommate – rather than living by yourself straight away. Its often daunting being alone, in a foreign country, without your family etc.. so its always nice coming home to a pal everyday J.
Some students choose to stay in Dorms till they find a nice roommate – or a friend. I haven’t experienced the dorms in Kosice but im sure that they’re good too.
How is the students life in Kosice like? Is it also good starting point for trip in central Europe?
Medicine in Kosice.. When starting to study in Eastern Europe I had no idea what to expect. Upon coming to Kosice I was pleasantly surprised to find the people of Kosice so warm and welcoming – everyone speaks English, even if they are not ‘fluent’ they’d still make the effort. You have to realize that you’re in a foreign country, that not everyone ‘HAS’ to speak English to you.. you have to make an effort with them also – you have to try with Slovak/Czech, don’t just be ‘that’ guy that doesn’t care.
You’re 3 hours away from Budapest, 5 hours-ish from Bratislava, 7 hours from Prague… all train/bus rides away. Having the luxury to go to all of these places is quite awesome – though don’t assume to have the free time just yet ;).. expect to have a lot of work in the first few years, with Anatomy, Biochemistry, Histology.. etc.
WORK HARD – PLAY HARD – follow that motto and you’ll be fine.
How do you like the city and its people? Do you know already some Slovak words, or even better, are you able to speak Slovak?
I love the city, the food, the people and the BEER! Nefiltrovany Staropramen.. is a must try!
I am able to speak some Czech, enough to allow me to order my food, speak to cab drivers and bus drivers and most importantly converse with Patients. Its great to join a sports team – like the rugby team etc as then you’ll be forced to learn Slovak/Czech and learn all the colloquial terms also. Having a good bunch of Slovak friends as I do on the rugby team is great as you can develop a ‘family-away-from-home’.