University: Universidad Europea de Madrid

Course: Health Science Foundation Year and Dentistry

Which year you are in: First/Second year dentistry

Home Town in the UK: Mottistone, Isle of Wight

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Unfortunately, A levels did not go to plan, but the idea of studying in a foreign country always intrigued me. Being able to learn a foreign language full time is something which really interested me as well, and of course the warmer climate is a huge appeal!

How would you rate the assistance of the university before you arrived (the application process, finding accommodation, sorting out financial matters)?

The assistance of the university before I arrived was pretty good. Despite lots of emails from the university, in the end the application process was relatively straightforward.

With regards to accommodation, as I only applied in late August, understandably the majority of the university accommodation was already booked. I was told that I would have a room in the university halls of residence and then when I arrived in September, I was informed that it was no longer available.

Luckily I was able to find a flat in the local town, so I would recommend booking university accommodation as soon as possible when applying to the university. I would recommend the website “Idealista” when on the hunt for a flat, there are loads of estate agents in the local town of Villaviciosa de Odon, but be prepared for lots of Google Translate and a firm hand needed with the estate agents…

How would you rate the assistance of the university when you arrived (orientation etc)?

Once I had arrived, I have to say I was expecting more of the classic English university experience with Freshers week and that sort of thing. However at Universidad Europea de Madrid, for the Health Science Foundation Year (HSFY), there was no such thing. There are induction days and orientation for the other courses like dentistry, but not for the HSFY so that threw me in the deep end a little. This was simply because I didn’t have the chance to meet any of my classmates beforehand. In the end, this wasn’t a bad thing, just something that I would have liked to be aware of before joining.

Did you feel prepared when you arrived and/or what surprised you?

Before I arrived, I was hugely excited and I wasn’t sure what to expect at all. Having said this, the whole experience was definitely not what I expected (not in a bad way!). Being raised in England, I expected a classic English university experience. What surprised me was that there is no Freshers week style introduction at the start of the year, however you do make friends surprisingly quickly without this! It also surprised me that I was the only English person on the Health Science Foundation Year, but this just meant I had to use Google Translate more than usual.

How would you rate the learning environment (teaching style, studying with other international students, non-native English speaking lecturers)?

The learning environment at the university is great. It is very welcoming to international students, and I found that the majority of the students are from all over the world. Being the only English girl on my course, it was really eye-opening being submerged in all these other cultures - primarily Italian, French and obviously Spanish. Having the ability to speak any other language proved exceptionally useful (fortunately I did A Level French which helped me hugely with making friends).

Despite the slight language barrier, it is really great being in such an international environment and I feel you can really thrive from this rare opportunity. The lecturers are non-native English speaking, most of whom have faultless English and are really easy to understand. There is the odd occasion where, as the only English native on the course, I would be asked for reassurance on some grammar, but apart from this I can’t really fault the lecturers.

Would you recommend studying abroad to someone your age who might never have thought about it before?

I definitely would recommend studying abroad to someone my age. It has been such an enlightening experience, and I feel totally independent now which is a really great feeling. I feel that for someone like me, who wants to do a long, hard medical course like medicine or dentistry, taking a gap year and going abroad was something that didn’t appeal as it just meant I would be increasingly older by the time I graduate. However, I really wanted to go abroad, so by studying abroad I think it’s great as you get the best of both worlds!

Is there anything you wish someone had told you at the time you applied?

In all honesty, I was not expecting the level of homesickness that I experienced once I left to study abroad. But this was overcome relatively quickly and I think it is something that most students go through when you leave home - I couldn’t be more glad that I took this path now!

Would you recommend your course, university, city to British students?

I would definitely recommend the Health Science Foundation Year to British students. It not only provides the opportunity to decide on a medical profession over the course of the year if you are unsure, but it also provides a second chance to those who maybe didn’t make the leap into a health science course in England.

The university is state of the art, and I would recommend it without a doubt. In particular, the Simulated Hospital in the Biomedical Health Sciences department, and the other facilities for dentistry are remarkable. Madrid is a fabulous city for students, albeit with a slightly pricey nightlife, it is bustling, friendly and full of wonderful experiences. The shops, food and atmosphere are just amazing.

Anything else you can think of would also be welcome.

I would also like to say that none of this experience would have been possible without the professional, outstanding assistance of the A Star Futures team, (Mark and Sophia) without whom I would not be able to pursue a career in dentistry.

About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.