*Disclaimer: This post is mostly about MBBS in Eastern European countries. Nothing mentioned in the post is intended to be generalised to all the universities/countries or the people living there.
“MBBS abroad” what is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear this? To me, the utter contemplation of pursuing MBBS outside of India sounds daunting because of the stereotypes. What if the MBBS universities outside India are just fraud? What if the agencies are trapping me into a scam to pursue MBBS abroad? What will people say if they find I am pursuing my MBBS degree in another country? A lot of ‘what’, ‘if’ and ‘but’…
Today, after completing my MBBS degree from my own country, I still know nothing about my fellow medical students who pursue MBBS abroad. I feel embarrassed to admit that till now, I was not much aware of any of it. So finally, I decided to break the ice, for myself and for other medical students like me who have 0 hints about the life of an MBBS student abroad. And to solve the mystery, I knocked the doors of the most vocal people on the internet – Khushboo and Keshav.
Let us start with a brief introduction about Khushboo and Keshav who met for the first time in Ukraine, and instantly connected with each other because of their common roots to Delhi and the love for momos. Since then they have been best friends, but how did they even choose the path of MBBS abroad?
- The journey before MBBS
- How did they decide to pursue MBBS abroad?
- The challenges through the journey
- Future Goals
- Prerequisites for MBBS abroad
The journey before MBBS
Being a girl myself, let me give you a spec of women empowerment and start with Khushboo’s journey.
Khushboo has always been the most sincere student in her class. You know those students that sit on the first bench, answer all the questions, and become a teacher’s favourite? Yes, Khushboo was that kid of the class. The minimum rank that she ever received in her school was being the third ranker in her class. This top-scorer one day decided to go for one of the arduous career paths in India – MBBS. She worked hard to prepare for the pre-medical entrance exam; only to find out that the exam pattern has changed this year. Now there will just be 1 exam for both the national level and the states – NEET-UG. The new change did not affect her much, she was well prepared. Unfortunately, even after ‘qualifying’ the exam she was not eligible to get an MBBS seat in a government college. She tasted failure for the first time, and it broke her completely. Self-doubts started peaking in, she did not know what to do next. But our hardcore girl decided to give herself another chance. She dropped one year and put in her blood and sweat to ensure that she gets that unreserved seat. However, life came in between her way. November to July 2016 were the most difficult months of her life which shook her, by this time she had a feeling that she might not be able to get through the exam. Her instincts were right this time, she scored even lower than her previous attempt.
When it comes to Keshav, he shifted gears in his 12th grade. He was the super-intelligent person in the class, who took PCMB (physics, chemistry, biology and maths). In his 12th grade Keshav was fascinated by the profession of a pilot, thanks to a trending show at that time. He was crossing every checkpoint on his path step by step to become a pilot – he cleared all his exams (pilot) at the first attempt and made it to the final interviews. But there was one thing that Keshav was missing in his CV – ‘recommendations’. However, he still did not give up, he went in for the interview, but life had its own plans. The talent that Keshav planned to highlight on his interview day was his Rubik’s cube solving skills. Can you guess what could have gone wrong on the interview day? He forgot to take his Rubik’s cube to the interview.
How did they decide to pursue MBBS abroad?
Anything can happen at any time… I had to decide how can I move forward to reach my dream.
One day while Khushboo was crossing the streets of Delhi with her mother, she saw a hoarding which read “MBBS abroad”. Even after crossing that street multiple times, she never gave it a glance, but this time it struck a chord. Khushboo started extensive research about the options to pursue MBBS abroad. She explored every corner of google and Fb to find out any piece of information that can be helpful. Finally, she came across someone on Facebook, who spent hours to explain her about the universities and the whole process in detail. She slowly came to know about more such magnificent people who are now her seniors.
For Keshav, MBBS was Plan B suggested by his dad. As he was already on his journey of becoming a pilot, he did not have enough time to prepare well for NEET.
But, Did they ever consider pursuing MBBS from a private college in India? The answer would be Yes and No. Yes, they did appear for multiple exams for the private institutes but they either fell short by merely 10-11 marks or the reservation system stood as a big mountain in between their way. To both of them, giving a donation to a medical college was never an option. They wanted to make a smart decision. They knew this is a long journey, and they will need money throughout. Whether for the study material, tuition fee, post-graduation, super-specialisation… money was substantial. Since the private college fee in India, was two times higher than that of MBBS abroad, it became the considerable driving force towards their decision.
Having faced the same exam stress, my next question to Khushboo was – What are your thoughts about reservation in these exams?
I remember myself wearing a white top that day, a girl next to me who had much lower score got the seat. I was happy inside that there is hope for me too. I have made it finally. But I did not… I asked my dad to enquire with that girl, there must have been a mistake with us…
It did hurt Khushboo just like it might have hurt few of you at some point. For both Khusboo and Keshav, the reservation system appears as a dilemma. They know that people need it, but the concern is whether giving a reservation based on someone’s caste is uplifting or creating more discrimination in a new way? Wouldn’t it be better if those who are in the economically weaker section would get the reservation? They have the same questions, just like most of us; the questions, which we hope might be logically addressed someday.
The challenges through the journey
It does not even sound simple when you think of moving to a completely foreign country and spending more than 5 years of your life there. Naturally, Keshav and Khushboo must have faced a handful of challenges along the way.
- Homesick – No, they did not face homesickness. Yes, there were bouts of homesickness in between but nothing major. Strange, isn’t it? The core reason why they did not experience homesickness was having the company of some beautiful souls i.e. friends. The kind of connection they shared between them felt like ‘home’.
- Culture – Initially, they were taken aback by the culture. The way Russians and Ukrainian people talked blatantly would bother them. Why would they not smile? Why are they so rude? What did I even do? But eventually, thanks to the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@#%, they realised these people are actually straight forward. They do not know how to fake it. They will say it on your face rather than talking behind your back, and these are the people you need for growth. No BS. Period.
- Language – Language is always a challenge when you are going to a new country. In this case, this was even more of a challenge. As most of the people were very proud of their culture and language, they would not even try to converse with someone else who is not much acquainted with the language. In fact, they actually confronted one of their teachers abut their discomfort. “Why do people here do not speak in English?” The teacher expressed how language is such a significant part of the culture that not many people even know any other language. However, the silver lining here is that their teachers would help them understand the patient’s lingo.
- Clinical experience – Both Khushboo and Keshav are fair and square about the minimal clinical experience you receive in the Eastern European countries. This is the harsh truth. In the first three years, the colleges focus only on the theory. Gradually, from 4th year they start to see procedures and examinations. It speeds up in the 5th year but sadly for them, the pandemic took that chance away, as well.
- Food – If you are a vegetarian, you will face challenges anywhere you go. It was the same here as well. So, carry all your spoons, vessels and cookbook with you and get to work.
FMGs should be glorified. You have come a long way. You are capable of running a household, speak another language, and adjust with new people..
While they were lucky to have a very supportive family who stood tall to support them, they were still a bit insecure. In fact, throughout the first 3 years of medical college, they were doubting about their potential. What if this happens again? The trauma of the NEET-UG exam had taken an enduring grip. What if we go back to India and can not clear the MCI exam? Or what if we don’t get a post-graduation seat? Are we good enough?
Khushboo’s mom is an astrologer, to see her insecure, her mom said –
Not all circumstances remain the same, not all outcomes remain the same. Your attitude changes; you grow, you evolve. So instead of thinking about the past, work on your future and you will succeed
Then came the KROK exam, with a new surprise. Another exam accompanying KROK exam was thrown at their face, IFOM (by NBME). If you are even a little bit aware of NBME, you know how this exam had been. We can call it the baby of USMLE. Time for a flashback of NEET-UG, again. Remember how NEET-UG was a completely new exam that they had to appear; remember how they did not get through to be eligible for a government seat? Another new exam, same anxiety. For Keshav and Khushboo, this exam turned out to be a turning point in their life. The hard work of 3 years paid off, they cleared both the exam in a single attempt. This was the first time after NEET-UG when they felt a sense of accomplishment. They could see their potential and give themselves a pat on the back.
Imagine for once, how those 3 years might have been for them. It gave me goosebumps when I was discussing this with them. One exam can give you a lot, and one exam can take away a lot from your life. My heart feels for everyone who has been on the journey of getting into medical school. Whether you are in a government college, private college, or pursuing MBBS abroad; I know that you have faced your share of challenges. It was not easy for anyone. Be proud of yourself, you are part of a beautiful profession; and someone, somewhere, right now is dreaming, to be where you are. Hold on to that thought for a while.
The primary goal for Keshav and Khushboo is to strengthen the concepts. They want to ensure that they have the basic knowledge of medical science very well embedded in their memory. This is crucial for them for all the future competitive exams that will come en voyage. While they are not sure about the specialisation preferences, they want to assure that they are licensed doctors in India.
Apart from the career goals, they have created a beautiful blog on Instagram, which they use as a platform to help other students who face any sorts of difficulties along the way. It is scarce to receive reply to all your small concerns from someone who has a high number of followers on social media. This is the leading reason why Khushboo and Keshav are driven to be available to everyone, whether for a book recommendation or study tips for an exam. They put their best to be of help. The second strong reason for their commitment to create content for students, is their empathy for students who do not have mentors/relatives who can guide them in the ‘medical journey’. When it comes to the path to MBBS abroad, Khushboo and Keshav ensure that the students make their own decision about the university/ country they wish to join. They give guidance but do not manipulate their decision. For them, it is not about convincing someone to join a university and making money out of that. If that had been the case, they must be millionaires right now.
We receive so many DMs from students who ask if they should do MBBS abroad? When you refer someone to a university, you get a commission. If we start doing that, we can be super-rich. …But that is not the goal. It is hard for others to believe that we are not making money.”-Keshav and Khushboo
Prerequisites for MBBS abroad
Do extensive research about multiple universities. Do not just lean on to one agent and believe whatever he is saying is the ultimate truth. You should know that for the agents, selling the university is part of the job. It does not mean that it is best for you. Check whether the source is authentic. Try to talk to the existing students in the universities. In fact, call the university directly.
Double-check about your personality. Make sure you are not jumping on to a decision just to regret it later.
If you strongly believe you have the potential and you want to give another attempt to pursue MBBS in India – Go for it.
If you think your financial status is enough to support medical education in a private college in India and you are comfortable to that – Go for it.
If you think you are ready to adjust to the changes in a new country, stay away from your family, and can take on the ride to MBBS abroad – Go for it.
Do not give up on your dream.
Message from Khushboo and Keshav
When one door closes, God opens another one. Choosing MBBS abroad was the other door for us. In a nutshell, If you have a dream and you want to achieve it, there is not just one path to take you there. Keep going. You will discover the different paths, and the path that is made for you is your calling.
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