Interview: First year Dentistry at Plovdiv Medical University

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Interview: First year Dentistry at Plovdiv Medical University

Interview with a dental student at Plovdiv Medical University

Meet Nafisa, a current student at Plovdiv Medical University in Bulgaria. In 2017, together with her sister, she decided to move from Norway to Bulgaria and study Dentistry abroad, describing this as „the perfect opportunity to come out of your comfort zone and really grow as an independent and confident person“. 

How did you decide to study at Plovdiv Medical University?

It took me a while to figure out what career I really wanted to do. For this I had to do a lot of research and get some advice from people I knew were in those fields. I ended up taking a gap year, among other things I got work experience. Eventually, I decided to study dentistry in Plovdiv. Two of my family members were already studying in Plovdiv, so I found out a lot in advance.

The first few months were the most difficult ones, moving away from family and friends to a whole new country felt so scary and exciting at the same time. I was so excited to explore a new culture, get more independent and get to know people. After exploring Plovdiv, I found it is a nice city with many historical sites and beautiful nature. Places like the Roman theatre, the Dzumaya Mosque, the views from the top of Aloysha hill and the buildings make it much more beautiful.

How is life in Plovdiv?

It’s a quiet city, with everything within walking distance. There are many stunning places with historical sites and beautiful nature. One more thing is that I’m learning about the Bulgarian culture, and I still have so much more to learn about it! Almost everything is much cheaper here than what would be found back in Norway, which makes this place more affordable.

This is the perfect opportunity to come out of your comfort zone and really grow as an independent and confident person. Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things is absolutely the best way to grow. Take chances!!!

What’s your impression of Plovdiv Medical University so far?

It is very different from the university system in Norway. I like that they are rebuilding the old buildings. The dental faculty on the other hand is very modern and the lecture halls are nice. You can find international students here and there are some societies you can join. Most of the teachers are professional and friendly. They do try to engage you during the practical classes and lectures and make it more fun and interesting.

What are the challenges of a first-year dental student? What subjects are taught during the first semester?

I would say time management because we do have a lot of things to do in a short amount of time. The subjects in the first semester are: Anatomy, Molecular biology, Bulgarian, Cytology, Latin (medical terminology), Healthcare Economics, Computer Technology, Medical Physics and Sports. Meanwhile, we have exams and colloquiums – both test the knowledge of the students. Colloquiums are sort of mini-tests you have during the semester, to check what students have learnt so far. Some of the colloquiums can affect your final grade (exam). We had three final exams after the first semester – we sat them in January: Cytology, Healthcare Economics and Medical Physics. When it comes to colloquiums, I remember we had 2 for Anatomy, 3 for Cytology, 1 for Molecular biology, 2 (1 oral & 1 written) for Bulgarian and 1 for Latin. The number of colloquiums might change by the time new students start the academic year.

So far we haven’t been able to examine any patients yet. I have heard that in the upcoming years we are going to be more in touch with patients, so I’m looking forward to it.

How much free time did you have throughout the first semester?

Everyone learns at their own speed, some need more time than others to get through the work. It depends really on you and what type of person you are. If you try to break down the work into small sessions almost every day, you will get some free time as well. Don’t forget to take some days/time off from university work where you only focus on having fun with friends etc. – this is important so that your brain doesn’t get tired.

How do you study and prepare for the exams?

I use slides and books recommended by the teachers. Online resources are also available so you don’t really need to spend money on buying books. You can easily find E-books. Unless it’s booklets you need to buy from the teachers, it’s not that expensive – around 10/20 levs each, and you don’t need that for every subject as well.

You will notice that everyone has different techniques and ways to revise. You just need to try out different techniques until you get comfortable with one. I personally used a bit of time to figure it out myself. It is a lot of information you need to know. 

What would you advise future students to do in their first semester?

Figure out what study technique works for you to get work done quickly. Try to get in contact with dental students in the years above, they have already gone through everything and will offer the best advice for you. It’s also important to make friends and to have a good connection with your group-mates. You’re going to be with them for the rest of 5-6 years of studying, so it is important that you communicate easily and exchange information, if needed. Don’t forget to enjoy your stay, it’s important to get some rest in order to work again efficiently. Remember to take care of your health – eat well, do some exercise and don’t forget to sleep well. On your most difficult days remember why you started and why you wanted to do this, because if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved. Remember: nothing is impossible!

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