Maria Joy | BDS Dental Surgery | Fifth Year

Maria Joy, from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, discusses her experiences as she enters her last year as a Dentistry student at the University of Birmingham.

How did you feel before you came to University? 

Before coming to university, I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was excited because it would be an opportunity for me to explore and see how the United Kingdom lifestyle is different from UAE. However, being an international student means my family would not be with me on this journey so I was nervous as to how I would manage living here alone. 

I had to get used to days getting shorter, shops closing a lot early and meal planning for myself during term time. Through the years I learnt that planning your days (balancing university and social life) really helps. As international students, we are responsibilities to make this place our home away from home so do whatever you can to be comfortable and happy.

Why did you apply to do Dental Surgery in the UK and specifically at the University of Birmingham?

I chose the UK to study dentistry as UK offers exceptional platform for personal and academic growth. University of Birmingham is known for graduating dentists who perform really well as dentists because they train students to a competent and experience level.

What have you struggled the most with during your studies? How did you overcome them?

I struggled with time management during exams. At home, I was soo used to having basic chores and food made for me but while in university and away for me, you are kind of on your own. After I do house chores and cook for me, I would feel soo tired to sit down and study for exams. I would plan my week and leave one day to just recharge for the week and do some basic chores. Meal prepping was an absolute game changer for me. Tim Hortons, being my happy place, is where I usually go when I don’t feel motivated to study.

What advice would you give to prospective international students thinking about studying on the course?

Do your research and try to get in touch with someone from the course! It is important to know what the course structure is like and how many years in the course. Make sure you are financial able to fund for the course and personal expense. Sign up for societies that you are interested in to avoid feeling burnt out. That was one thing I regret not doing as I was scared that I would prioritise societies over my studies. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there!

Can you summarise your overall experience as a current student so far?

I would say five years in an institute is a very long time and I think this is the first time I have been committed in an institute for this long because I have moved a lot throughout my life. It had been a difficult journey where I felt like I had to start from scratch. But, I felt I have become more independent than I could ever be and I can say that UK has now become home away from home. Sometimes I do think about going back to Abu Dhabi to practise dentistry but then I realise that I don’t know how to be independent there because I always had my parents to sort things out for me, maybe in the future I might but because I have adjusted with the UK lifestyle, I wont be going anywhere for a while.

Maria Joy StudentMaria Joy

 Degree: BDS Dental Sugery