Case study

Dental medicine student — Osman

Osman immersed himself in a new culture, made friends from around the world and learned valuable skills by studying abroad. Find out why he chose Bulgaria and his advice for settling in a new country

What did you study and where?

I studied medical biology at the University of Huddersfield, which helped me go on to study dental medicine in Bulgaria.

Why did you choose this course?

I chose to study dental medicine in Bulgaria for a number of reasons:

  • the degree allows me to return and work in the UK after graduation, as it's accepted by the General Dental Council (GDC)
  • the course is taught in English, and costs are much lower than they would have been at a UK university
  • teaching standards are excellent - the professors are at the top of their fields.

How did you fund your study abroad?

Since I had previously taken out a student loan in the UK, I had to self-fund my studies. Tuition fees at my university are roughly £7,000 per year. I've arranged flexible part-time jobs upon my return to the UK during the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays to cover these costs. My parents also help me out.

UK students have a number of funding options, such as receiving a student loan from a UK bank or applying for a loan via the medical universities in Bulgaria.

What does the course involve?

The course involves five years of study and a final year of foundation training, delivered by highly skilled doctors and professors.

The first two years are mostly theoretical, with some practical experience in dental prosthetics and dental materials. During the third year and onwards, students integrate their theoretical knowledge into patient-oriented treatments. The final training year is equivalent to an FY1 doctor/dentist position in the UK.

Did you find it easy to settle in?

The culture is a little different from the UK, even though almost all young people speak English. The local cuisine is delicious and the people are very friendly.

Settling in may be difficult if you don't have someone to help you - the paperwork is not easy to handle for a foreigner who doesn't speak the language. Your first week can be hectic as there's a lot to do, such as:

  • securing suitable accommodation
  • organising your bills
  • figuring out your way around the city
  • getting a sim card
  • opening a bank account
  • applying for a residency permit.

These things can be difficult to sort, so seek help if you need to. There are some British agencies available, which help students make a smooth transition into university and assist those who are struggling.

How does study in Bulgaria compare to the UK?

Studying in Eastern Europe isn't too different from studying in the UK. We use the virtual learning environment Blackboard, just like other UK universities, and all lectures, seminars and lab sessions are taught in English.

The only significant difference is that everything is amazingly cheap in comparison to UK prices.

What's the most rewarding part?

Studying abroad has taught me that living alone is not so difficult. I'm really independent now and have made lots of friends who were in the same boat as me. I love that local students share their culture, food and language with us Brits.

What's the most challenging part?

The application procedure and settling in was the most challenging part.

How have you benefited from the course?

Socially, I'm experiencing an amazing new culture and I am immersed in a global community of students. I've made connections and friends from across the globe.

Academically, I'm being taught by the best doctors and dentists in their fields, and I'm gaining plenty of practical experience in preparation for my return to the UK. The abundance of practical and clinical experience I'm gaining on the course will benefit my career immensely upon my return, as I'll be able to confidently and skilfully treat patients.

Any advice for others studying abroad?

My advice for those who want to pursue medicine or dentistry abroad is that you should definitely do it. I was terrified at first, and so were many other students, but this anxiety doesn't last - you'll get over it very quickly. If you can't get accepted in the UK, don't give up on your dream - come over to Europe and join us.

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