autumnsoliloquy90: (straight through the heart)
[personal profile] autumnsoliloquy90

University of Oxford

It was my great privilege to be able to spend eight weeks as a medical student at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, as part of the University of Oxford Clinical Elective Student Programme. University of Oxford is considered one of the top universities in the UK (sometimes second only to University of Cambridge), and according to the QS World University Rankings 2016 for the subject of Medicine, Oxford Medical School is second only to Harvard University. Hence it is only natural that I would choose to spend half of my surgical subinternship (Chirurgie-Tertial des Praktischen Jahres) in this esteemed institution.

Application Process

I had to apply to the Elective Programme almost two years in advance. As I was starting my PJ in November 2015, the deadline for my application was October 2014. This posed some challenges because the University of Frankfurt medical school splits up the major course subjects evenly among the clinical semesters, so by the end of fourth clinical semester (time of deadline) the International Office could not declare my results for most of the clinical subjects because they are not yet considered complete. Nevertheless, I went ahead with my application, crossed my fingers for luck, and received the letter of acceptance in December 2014. Although my first choice was to do my elective in November, I was allocated the May-June 2016 elective slot.

The required documentation included:

  • Completed Application Form with Letter of Motivation

  • Curriculum vitae

  • Proof of English proficiency (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge FCE, Proficiency or Advanced certificates, a university certificate)

  • Two academic letters of recommendation

  • 4 Passport Photographs

  • I submitted other additional documents to boost my application

    The elective coordinator is Miss C.C., a really nice and friendly British lady who always responded quickly to my emails, even to my enquiries prior to application. She was also very helpful and accommodating throughout the whole elective period.

John Radcliffe Hospital

The John Radcliffe Hospital is one of the hospitals of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, along with Churchill Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Horton General Hospital and Warneford Hospital. The JR Hospital was named after Dr. John Radcliffe (1650 - 1714)1, who was one of the major benefactors of the University of Oxford, and was considered 'the Aesculapius of his age' during his time. Oxford’s famous landmarks, such as the Radcliffe Observatory and the Radcliffe Camera, were also named after this eminent physician.

The JR Hospital is a major referral centre for Oxfordshire and surrounding regions, and is home to the only Accidents and Emergency Department in Oxford. The hospital provides a wide range of medical and surgical care including trauma, intensive care and cardiothoracic services2. JR also houses the Children’s Hospital in the West Wing, the Eye Hospital, the Oxford Heart Centre, and the Women’s Centre, as well as the Oxford University Medical School departments and the George Pickering Education Centre.

During my two-month electives, I was mostly situated at the John Radcliffe Hospital, although I had to go to Churchill Hospital often for operating theatre sessions with the Department of Colorectal Surgery.

Research Activities

One of my main learning objectives in Oxford was to maximise this privileged access to the abundant research opportunities available at the University of Oxford, one of the world’s leading institutions in research, especially in biomedical sciences. It is amazing how in the past six years of medical school in Frankfurt, I had not been given an opportunity to do research for various reasons, but I was able to conduct research immediately upon arrival on my first day at the hospital.

My research project was conducted under the guidance of my supervisor, Mr R.H., a leading consultant colorectal surgeon in the novel innovation procedure, transanal Total Mesorectal Excision (taTME), and his Research Fellow, Specialist Registrar Ms M.P. They were both extremely friendly and respectful in their interactions with me, a foreign medical student who was many years and levels their junior. This was a pleasant surprise to me, as I eventually realised how the hierarchy in the medical profession is not so entrenched in the NHS system. Indeed, they were very pleased to see how motivated I was to conduct some research in Oxford, and were very accommodating in letting me participate in their clinical research despite my minimal experience in research.

For this research project, I conducted comparative research on the different transanal platforms currently being used for transanal Total Mesorectal Excision (taTME), which strives to reduce the risks involved with minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery, by utilising natural orifices as access for rectal cancer surgery3. Through this research project, I was able to acquire clinical research skills, such as medical statistics and academic writing. We are currently in the process of sending our peer-reviewed paper for publication in an academic journal. More importantly, this research also enlightened and sparked a great interest in me for surgical innovation; a neverending process to develop best-practice surgical techniques which bring about the most optimal outcomes for the patients’ quality of life and survival. This research experience has definitely cemented my decision in pursuing postgraduate research training and thus an academic research career in the future.

Transanal platforms J

3 Atallah S, Albert M, Larach S (2010) Transanal minimally invasive surgery: a giant leap forward. Surg Endosc 24(9): 2200-5

Library Facilities and Medical School

During my whole elective, I was a temporary visiting medical student of the University of Oxford. This meant that although I was not matriculated as an official Oxford University student (hence there is no elective fees or matriculation expenses), I enjoyed the same rights, privileges and access to educational materials as the Oxford medical students. Indeed, I experienced this firsthand on my first day, when I was refused entry into the operating theatres because I did not possess an access card at the time yet, despite my possession of the University Student card and letter of acceptance from the Elective Programme. The elective coordinator, Miss C.C., promptly mediated and insisted that as an elective student, I should be treated in the exact same manner as their Oxford medical students, therefore allowing me to attend OT sessions that day. Although I mentioned that I could wait until the next day when my security access card arrives, Miss C.C. was insistent that I should not waste even a day, especially my first day, because of a bureaucratic problem. This incident really demonstrated to me the Elective Programme’s sincerity when they stated that elective students would receive the same experience as their local medical students.

Furthermore, Miss C.C. was always approachable whenever we, elective students, had any problems at all at the hospital, or even regarding external matters such as travel advice, accommodation problems, etc.

As an elective student, I had access to all the libraries of the University of Oxford, including the famous Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Science Library in the Radcliffe Camera, both of which have such magnificent interior designs that really create an elegant and prestigious atmosphere. However, the JR hospital also housed the Cairns Library, which is the medical library for Oxford medical students and Oxford University Hospital Trust employees, so we were mostly hanging out at this library, which we, elective students, considered our second home in Oxford. The Library is open 24/7, albeit unstaffed, is sufficiently equipped with computer stations for both medical students and hospital employees, as well as with printing/scanning/copying facilities. The medical books were mostly up-to-date with latest editions, and there were also journals in print available for browsing at the library. Alternatively, there is the SOLO online facility to enable users to access e-books online, free access to almost all medical journals available via Shibboleth and OpenAccess, which definitely helped a lot during my literature search for my research project.

There is also a foyer at the entrance of the Library, where students and employees alike could hang out, chat with one another, relax and chill. Moreover, there is an “Oxford Book Transplantation” bookshelf at the entrance, where older editions of library textbook were stored, and people were encouraged to donate their older textbooks to the shelf. These books would then be “transplanted” to less developed countries with minimal access to medical textbooks, such as many African countries.

As an elective student, we enjoyed employee discounts at the JR hospital’s amenities (WHSmith, Marks & Spencer’s) and cafeterias (GPEC café, onthree cafeteria, League of Friends cafeteria). We were also able to attend any academic event and teaching session we like, even if it is outside of our elective programmes. For example, although I was rotating through the departments of Colorectal Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery during the two months in Oxford, I attended the neuroanatomy lectures during my free time with another elective student who was attached to Neurosciences, alongside the other Oxford final-year medical students. I also regularly attended Medical and Surgical Grand Rounds, where presenters discussed interesting cases from the wards in that week, and latest research breakthroughs in Oxford. Moreover, I would check out the numerous interesting talks happening in Oxford regularly, stated on a list which is updated often online. We also had access to tutorial sessions like the Oxford medical students, such as Introduction to Point-of-Care Ultrasound, Advanced Simulation: Care of the Critically Ill Patient, Skills Labs sessions where we could practice basic clinical skills on models, e.g. catheterisation, insertion of an arterial line.

Me practising male catheterisation skills at the Medical School Skills Lab J

During my stay, I attended various conferences and symposiums in the UK, which I have already planned to attend during weekends prior to my arrival in the UK, such as the Suturing Course in Manchester conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Association of Breast Surgery Conference in Manchester, the 1st National Undergraduate Clinical Anatomy Competition at the University of Coventry and Warwick, as well as the International Symposium on Paediatric Neuro-oncology in Liverpool. I also attended the 15th British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (BAPRAS) Undergraduate Day, the Oxford Neurology and Neurosurgery Symposium, the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre Symposium and the 16th Cambridge Lectures in Neurosurgical Anatomy, all which happened to coincide with my stay in Oxford.

Elective students were also temporary members of the Green Templeton College, where most of the clinical medical students resided, which meant that we could attend the numerous events happening there on a regular basis. Hence, I attended their regular College talks such as the Management in Medicine seminar, “Healthcare Systems across Europe: Seeing the NHS in its Wider Context”, which really helped to put into perspective the perceived “NHS crisis” that is happening today, and was of great interest to me, as someone who has experienced multiple healthcare systems during medical school and could therefore compare the NHS with the healthcare systems of Singapore and Germany. This was also one of my main learning objectives for my Oxford elective.

I also attended weekly salsa lessons at the Green Templeton College with my friends, the other elective students, every Tuesday evening after our now-traditional Tuesday dinners. There we were able to make friends with other College students, not just the Oxford medical students. We also attended the birthday party of one of the medical students we befriended, at her accommodation at the Green Templeton College. I definitely had many fond memories of the College, and the Chocomilk hot drink at the free vending machine located the College lounge is absolutely something to check out (I was drinking it at every opportunity I could get).

Besides Green Templeton College, we had unlimited free access to all the other University Colleges as elective students despite not being a member of those Colleges. Although I did not have enough time to visit all 38(!!) Colleges at the University of Oxford, I did manage to visit a few must-see Colleges, such as the famous Christchurch College, most well-known for producing the greatest number of British Prime Ministers, and also for its Dining Hall, which is the set location for the Great Hall of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter film franchise. A friend of mine is a student resident of the College, so I was lucky enough to be treated to a College dinner at the Hall.

Among the many Colleges I visited, I also went to the St John’s College Chapel for weekly rehearsals with the Oxford University Symphonic Band. This really gave me the opportunity to take up flute playing again after a long time of hiatus due to my busy schedule with medical school the past six years. Although I was not able to play with the band for their Trinity Term concert due to commitments at my electives, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to play familiar music pieces with a group, many of whom I befriended, in such a beautiful chapel in the College. It also allowed me to reminisce about the good old days I had with my high school band.

Last but not the least, I also received a university e-mail address ( which I used to e-mail faculty members during my time in Oxford, as well as unlimited access to the Oxford University Medical School’s online learning platform called WebLearn. I find it amazing that most (if not all) lecture slides and notes are uploaded on WebLearn even before the courses start (as it should be logically but unfortunately is not the case in most medical schools...), so that students could basically read up in advance in preparation for the lectures (there were also recommended reading lists for each lecture) and thus pay attention during the lectures without stressing over taking notes. I maximised this privileged access by familiarising myself with the preclinical and clinical course lectures which were available for viewing on WebLearn, to learn the Oxford Medical School curriculum more in depth. WebLearn also had a complete repertoire of clinical examination videos for all the systems, as well as videos on surgical skills and other clinical skills. WebLearn definitely made me understand why the Oxford Medical School is considered one of the best institutions of medical education in the world.

Elective Description

1st Rotation: Department of Colorectal Surgery

For three days of the week, I would attend operating theatre sessions at Churchill Hospital where the colorectal surgeries were carried out. I would join the house officers (Foundation Year 1-2 junior doctors, equivalent to PJ/Assistenzarzt in Germany) in the morning for their ward rounds, followed by regular teaching sessions for junior doctors around lunchtime. I found these sessions to be extremely beneficial for my level, as they provided practical tips and protocols to dealing with certain cases e.g. severe haemorrhage. The house officers I was following were also very friendly and gave me insight into the daily routine and expectations of junior doctors, as well as into the current issue of the NHS junior doctor contract and the protests surrounding the proposed changes to the contract. During ward rounds, I was mostly helping the house officers to follow up on patients, discharge patients, take bloods, patient history and perform physical examinations. As I did not have time to take the EMR (electronic medical records) training, I did not have access to the patients’ electronic records and therefore could not input my findings into their case notes, but I wrote them down for my own records to inform the junior doctors and to document my progress in charting patients in medical English.

There were opportunities to scrub in for abdominal procedures like laparoscopies and laparotomies, but most procedures were done transanally (such as the taTME procedure which was the subject of my research paper). I was able to observe and compare the different surgical procedures to remove colon and rectal cancers, such as transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM), which uses rigid proctoscopes. The OT staff were also very accommodating and friendly and international, most of the scrub nurses coming from Europe and the Philippines (where I am originally from).

During my elective in colorectal surgery, I also attended regular bedside teaching sessions conducted by the consultants twice a week at the JR Surgical Emergency Unit, where we would discuss various interesting cases and propose management plans for the patients. I found these bedside teaching sessions extremely beneficial as I was able to learn from other Oxford medical students their different way of examining patients, which I found to be more throrough and comprehensive than what I learnt in Germany, which was more symptom-oriented and concise. Although we had a lot of practical exposure in German hospitals, medical students often received very minimal bedside teaching from busy doctors in Germany, so I was glad I was able to gain some experience of it while in Oxford. Furthermore, I also attended M&M (morbidity and mortality) and MDT (multidisciplinary team) meetings, as well as endoscopy sessions, outpatient clinics (where I saw a lot of haemorrhoids patients). The colorectal surgery consultants were very willing to answer my queries and impart their expert knowledge to inquisitive medical students.

2nd Rotation: Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery

During my elective in cardiothoracic surgery, I was given a daily schedule every week by the personal assistant of my supervisor, Mr M.P. I would attend operating theatre sessions with cardiac surgery twice a week, and with thoracic surgery once a week. I was able to observe coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) operations, valve replacement surgeries, both on- and off- ECMO bypass. Moreover, I witnessed laparascopic lobectomies, bronchoscopies, lung biopsies, as well as emergency procedures. The anaesthetists were also more than willing to explain things to me, and allowed me to get the best viewing spot to see the operation without being scrubbed in. This elective really inspired me to seriously consider cardiothoracic surgery as a future profession.

During the OT sessions, I met a few surgical care practitioners, who are basically nurses or other allied health professionals who have been trained through a masters program to specifically harvest vein grafts from the lower limbs endoscopically, as well as to assist during cardiothoracic operations. This was a role that I’ve only encountered in Oxford and not anywhere else I’ve done clinical rotations and electives in. This basically meant that junior doctors were not obligated to rotate in operating theatres to assist, but they were more than welcome to assist in the OT in their free time if they so wish to do so.

I would also attend ward rounds at the cardiothoracic ward, and had sessions at nuclear cardiology, cardiology wards (where I listened to and familiarised myself with a lot of murmurs), cardiac cath lab, outpatient clinics (where I saw a patient with Pancoast tumour for the very first time), and echocardiography (where a Filipina cardiac physiologist taught us practical skills in handling the machine and probe, where to place the probe on the patient, etc.).

Travelling in the UK

The cheapest way to travel within the UK is by coach/bus (Megabus, National Express, etc.) and occasionally by train (London Midlands, etc.), especially if you book them weeks in advance. I frequently travelled to other parts of the UK for conferences and symposia on weekends, so I booked most of my train/bus tickets in advance, e.g. 12GBP to Liverpool including return ticket. I recommend using to search for train tickets, for coaches.

Travelling to Oxford from London

When I landed in London Heathrow, I stayed over with relatives for the weekend before actually going to Oxford. If you're planning to check out London for a while first, then travel to Oxford, you have the option of 1) taking a train (ca. 1 hour trip) or 2) taking a bus/coach (100 min). Travelling to Oxford from London by bus is the cheapest (and actually quite comfortable, especially when you're carrying heavy luggage), and you could do this with three options:

1) OxfordTube: It costs 14GBP with next-day return for students, so always bring your student ID around. Keep the bus ticket and simply show it to the bus driver upon boarding on your return trip. It's even cheaper with 11GBP if you take the trip after 3PM (night rider) including the next-day return trip. Alternatively, if you know (like me) you'll be travelling to London from Oxford and back many times during your stay, you could also buy the 12-trip ticket (valid within one year) which costs about 62GBP. Definitely worth it considering that 6x trip with return costs about 6x14= 84GBP. Trip comes with free WiFi.

2) X90: This Oxford-London bus costs about the same as OxfordTube, except it isn't a double-decker, and I personally find the seats and aisles narrower than OxfordTube coaches. There's not much difference between OxfordTube and X90, although I found that X90 bus drivers tend to help more with loading luggages onto the bus.

3) The Airline Oxford Bus: If you're travelling directly from and toward the Heathrow/Gatwick airports, it might be more convenient to take this bus. Oxford to Heathrow costs about 23GBP for single trip, 25GBP with return ticket.

Applying for DAAD PROMOS Stipendium

Details could be found here:

I actually wanted to apply for the Erasmus+ Stipendium instead, because PROMOS was quite competitive, but because my official length of stay was only 53 days, I was only eligible for the PROMOS (Praktika) Stipendium, as Erasmus+ required at least 60 days duration. (Although in the end, I had to stay a bit longer, so it became 56 days in the end.)

My application documents consisted mainly of:

  • Application form

  • Letter of Motivation

  • Official Transcript + Letter of Recommendation (from Medical School International Office)

  • Academic Letter of Reference

  • Curriculum vitae

  • various certificates

  • IELTS (Academic) Certificate as proof of English Language

I submitted my documents in one package personally to the International Office at PEG Campus Westend. A few days later, I was instructed to create an account at the MOBILITY- ONLINE Website, which is a very handy online platform for the rest of the application process. I hope that in the future, they could incorporate the first part into the online process as well, so that applicants could just upload all their documents onto the online platform from the beginning (saves paper and trees).

Since my electives were going to take place in the UK, I was informed I would receive EUR300 monthly for the two months in Oxford, and in addition a travel expenses grant of EUR150 for the flight. I did manage to book a flight around EUR130 (excluding check-in baggage; extra EUR40 for 23kg bag) with British Airways to London Heathrow because I booked about three months in advance from departure date. I reckon the amount of EUR150 wouldn’t suffice for a plane ticket to the UK with return if it was bought a few weeks before the departure date. It might not seem a lot, but the monthly grants I received from PROMOS were used to fund my food expenses and travel expenses during my stay in the UK.

Accommodation in Oxford

I got an AirBnb accommodation which is on hindsight a very bad idea. Most people including myself have had very pleasant or uneventful experiences with AirBnb, but I think it really depends on what you're staying in Oxford for. If you're a tourist spending less than a week in Oxford, and you don't know too many locals in the city, then by all means.

However, if you're a student who would be staying for more than a month, please do yourself a favour and book a college accommodation. I know 400-500GBP per month sounds like very expensive rent, but trust me, it's the normal going rate in Oxford. I made the mistake of booking an AirBnb apartment shared with a non-local couple, and was charged 600GBP per month. I actually thought this was normal for private rentals but honestly speaking, that's pretty jacked up rent prices. Also, if you're an elective student, you'd probably wanna stay as close to the colleges where most of the student social events are happening. You would also perhaps be in the hospital till late, or hanging out with local medical students or other elective students the whole night, so you might come off as being antisocial to your AirBnb hosts (because AirBnb is about interacting with your hosts often). And a word of caution: always check the cancellation policy before making a booking. I was done in by a strict long-term cancellation policy that mandated I would still have to pay for the rest of the booking if I cancelled halfway and moved out.

That said, many people have had pleasant experiences with AirBnb in Oxford. I've heard of an elective student who stayed for about eight weeks, and every morning her lovely host would make an English breakfast with tea for her. It’s all a matter of luck.

For Oxford elective students, there is also an option of staying at the Ivy Lane flats just adjacent to the John Radcliffe Hospital. Please do inform Miss C.C. in advance and as early as possible if you'd like a room there, because the rooms are very limited. They're not the most perfect of accommodations, but its prime location and convenience as well as cheap rent are definitely a plus point.

Travelling around Oxford

If you're going to be in Oxford for at least 4 weeks and plan to sightsee, I cannot emphasise enough the need to buy a monthly bus pass for the convenience as well as the amount of money you'd save. A single trip with return costs about 3GBP, so assuming you would make at least one trip to the city centre and back to your accommodation per day, that would cost about 3 x 30 = 90GBP per month. The SmartZone bus pass covers most of Oxford including Cowley and Headington, and costs about 54.50GBP per 4 weeks. You can see how much it saves you not only the hassle of having to fish out coins from your purse while buying your ticket from the bus driver and holding up the bus from continuing its journey, you'd also save almost 50% of what you'd spend by buying a ticket for each trip.

You could buy the bus pass personally at Debenham’s (at the junction of George Street and Cornmarket Street) on the third floor. From my own experience, the receptionists there have always been generally quite pleasant and friendly and willing to advise which pass would suit your stay the best. Or alternatively, you could buy them online.

Student Events and Activities

1) Weekly Salsa Dance Lessons, every Tuesday, Green Templeton College

2) Oxford University Symphonic Band Rehearsals, every Monday, St John’s College Chapel

3)  Oxford Student Examinations and Graduation Ceremonies

4)  Blenheim Food Festival 2016

Restaurants, Cafes and Pubs in Oxford

1) Atomic Burger

Address: 92 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1JE
Known for the waiters who dress up in comic book superhero costumes

2) Maxwell’s

Address: 36-37 Queen St, Oxford OX1 1ER
Offers 50% discounts to Students!!

3) The Turf Tavern

Address: 4-5 Bath Pl, Oxford OX1 3SU
Known for being the restaurant where “Bill Clinton smoked a joint but did
not inhale”.

4) The Eagle & Child

Address: 49 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LU
Known for being the hangout place of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis

5) Oxford’s Grill, Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant

Address: 21 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1HP

6) Zheng Restaurant

Address: 82 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6EA
Appropriately named by the Times Magazine as “the best Chinese restaurant in the UK”

7) Patisserie Valerie

Address: 90 High St, Oxford, UK OX1 4 Afternoon High Tea is a must try!

8) George & Danver’s Ice Cream

Address: Everywhere in Oxford, especially at St Aldates opposite Christchurch College

9) iScream @ The Covered Market

Address: 13 The Covered Market Avenue 4, Market St, Oxford OX1 3DZ Known as Oxford’s first Gelateria

10)The Varsity Club, rooftop bar

Address: 9 High St,Oxford OX1 4DB
Known for the stunning view of Oxford from the rooftop

Sightseeing in Oxford

  1. 1)  Oxford City Centre, High Street, Broad Street, St Giles

  2. 2)  All the Colleges of University of Oxford

  3. 3)  Blenheim Palace (Day trip)

  • Take Stagecoach Bus No. 5 from George Street (Near Debenham’s)

  • Buy the Annual Pass with Student Concession if you plan to return a few times

  • Known for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill, family residence of his descendants

  1. 4)  Ashmolean Museum: Exhibitions on European art and ancient civilizations.
    Note: Almost
    all museums in Oxford are free for students!

  2. 5)  Punting at Christchurch College: Hire a punt for GBP25 per hour at Magdalen College.
    Max 4-5 people, best to do this in summer!

  3. 6)  The Headington Shark, New High Street: 10 min’s walk from John Radcliffe Hospital

  4. 7)  Oxford Outlet Shopping: Bicester Village

  5. 8)  Jericho: lots of interesting shops and restaurants in this area of Oxford

Recognition of Electives (PJ-Tertial)

The official duration of my PJ-Halbtertial was 3 May (a Tuesday) – 24 June 2016, because Monday was an official Bank Holiday in the UK, so the University of Oxford Medical School informed me I couldn’t start on that day. Unfortunately, I was told by the HLPUG officials that this would have problems with the Anerkennung of this Tertial, so I had to extend my electives until the 27 June 2016, so that it would still be a complete 8-week subinternship. Fortunately, Miss C.C. was gracious enough to show understanding towards my predicament, and allowed me to stay at JR Hospital until that Monday. I had to rebook my return flight to the 27th June, so that costed me an extra EUR200 for the rebooking fees.

A tip for medical students doing their PJ overseas: you would need 2 certificates stamped with the university seal (not the hospital stamp), one is the Auslandstertialbescheinigung which is basically a document certifying that you were rotating in that department, what your duties and activities were, and it must be signed by your supervising consultant. I reckon one copy of this is enough, but I was extremely paranoid, so I had one signed by each of my two supervising consultants. The other document is the Statusbescheinigung which certifies that as an elective student you “enjoyed the same rights and privileges / duties“ as the local medical students “despite not being matriculated“ (which is why there is no elective fees). This document is super important, and must be signed by the Medical School representative (i.e. Miss C.C.), and stamped with the Oxford Medical School seal.

In any case, the Oxford Medical School also requires its elective students to complete evaluation forms for each rotation (to be signed and evaluated by the supervising consultant, also stamped with the university seal), whose top copies we may keep for future reference. Lastly, Miss Carolyn also issued each elective student a concluding certificate as proof that the student did complete the electives during the stipulated period in accordance to the Oxford Medical School regulations.

Budget and Finances

As I mentioned earlier, my food and travel expenses in the UK were covered by the DAAD PROMOS Stipendium monthly grant. I used my savings from the allowance we received during PJ for the previous six months to cover the AirBnB costs. The rest of my miscellaneous expenses were funded by contributions from my parents.

I lived quite frugally during the two months in the UK and my expenses came up to about GBP900-1000 per month. I actually thought Oxford would be much cheaper than London, considering it’s smaller and not as populated as the latter, but since Oxford is a renowned university town with a lot of migrants, there is not much difference in living costs between Oxford and London. Also keep in mind that as of date (June 2016), 1 GBP = 1.40 EUR (After Brexit Referendum: 1 GBP = 1.17 EUR).

Concluding Remarks & Further Information

My time in Oxford was definitely one of the happiest and most enriching learning experiences I have had during the whole of medical school. It wasn’t perfect but I definitely don’t regret applying for it, going for it, and going through the hassle of getting funding, letters of recommendation, etc. It was a great privilege to be a medical student at such a prestigious medical school even for such a short period.

I was very lucky in that the other foreign students who were doing their electives at the same time period as myself, were very interesting and inspiring. One of my motivations for doing my electives in Oxford was the opportunity to meet other medical students from diverse backgrounds all over the world, and indeed they all hailed from the US, Norway, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Kenya. We had such great conversations with one another, learning from them their experiences with medical school, their healthcare systems and comparing our differences as well as realising in the end that medical students from all over the world are not so different in our dreams, woes and aspirations after all. I gleaned not just medical knowledge from them (during our nerding out sessions) but also life lessons from their unique perspectives, friendly advice and personal experiences. Their dreams to make a difference to their communities in the future definitely inspired me to emulate them and push myself to become a great doctor in the future. Our time together might have been short, but I do count them as my close friends albeit scattered all over the world (or “my tribe“ as the Kenyans would say).

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