Two years ago I had finally accepted that I would never get an offer for Medicine. Academically, I had done enough and quite honestly had had enough – BSc Physiology and Pharmacology and an MSc Neuroscience – why exactly did I want to do another degree? Another five years of studying? No thank you! I had already applied for Medicine three times in the UK with rejections each time. One admissions tutor who I contacted simply for advice after rejection, sent me a three line email and I quote ‘you will never become a doctor in this institution’. Such adversity in a country where we are apparently facing a medical skill shortage?
For my personal satisfaction, I had also made myself believe that this is exactly what Allah (God) wanted from me too. I was too scared to even think about applying abroad hence I was coming up with excuses to divert from this alternative.
Anyway now was the perfect time to pause the academics, start applying for roles in the pharmaceutical arena and at the same time wait for ‘rishtay’ (marriage proposals). I tried this but given the competition, I was getting rejected for even the simple administrative roles.
Nonetheless 2014 was a great year for me as it ended up being a perfect break. I was meeting with friends and exercising quite regularly, although occasionally a niggling thought would disturb my status quo. I had given up on my lifelong dream of becoming a Doctor Of Medicine. No matter how I tried to negate this, like the most irritating ‘pop up’ on your computer screen this was driving me insane. The ‘pop up’ kept pointing me to my failure and weakness – did I really want to become a doctor – why was my compass still facing that direction? Had I given up all too easily, was this my destiny? Every morning I would wake in turmoil, battling my own thoughts. As humans we are constantly faced with choices and options. There was an alternative – study Medicine abroad. But that involved leaving my family, my home and my comfort zone. THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS GOING TO DO THAT. I was a comfortable, home loving, British Pakistani girl who struggled to travel from my hometown Crawley to London for an evening out! Abroad – You’re Kidding Me!
How wrong was I. In July 2014 I forced myself to revise again for entrance exams. It was back to CGP Biology, Chemistry and Maths (after A-levels I vowed that I would never look at Maths again but here I was, studying imaginary numbers). A-level revision was tough enough but returning to them five years later was much harder, requiring utmost dedication. This turn of events felt tedious and was happening in MY break year and in summer – Awful!!
However my mum kept me in full supply of ‘badaams’ (almonds) every night – they are supposedly great for brainpower. They definitely helped for sure during that tough period.
Praise be to Allah – In July I finally received that phone call, an offer to study Medicine at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.
I put the phone down and cried; tears of joy – NO not at all. But why the tears of sadness? I guess I was secretly hoping that I wouldn’t get a place so that I could stay at home and yet reconcile that I had tried my best. The reality had hit home but I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving home. WHERE EVEN WAS the Czech Republic and what was it like? How was I going to live alone? Panic, panic and on top of this my two brothers taunting me – “uh oh, have you seen the film Hostel?” I had realised the start of my dream but was being swallowed up by a different nightmare!
If this wasn’t bad enough, now the aunties and uncles started another rant – “hai hai, shaadi kab karay gi agar ab Medicine shuroo kari hai” (when will she get married if she’s only just starting Medicine) – The nightmare was worsening. Was I being put off again – should I simply just write to the School and thank them but no thanks?
Fast forward July 2015 – I have to be thankful for this opportunity culminating in what now feels like the best decision of my life! And no, FYI Czech Republic is nothing like Hostel, what a deceiving film!
I guess the moral of the story is quite simply this – NEVER GIVE UP and moreover do not deceive yourself. If you have a dream, then chase it whole-heartedly, with passion and enthusiasm. If an ordinary British Pakistani girl like me can leave her comfort zone to chase her dreams then trust me, anyone can! Moving away from home was a huge transition – quite possibly the riskiest decision of my life. I still don’t, quite, understand how I did it. But I guess that is the lesson of hardship and struggle, often revealing our inner strengths that we aren’t even aware of.