Avinya Arul Balasingam, Class of 2017
Pursuing Medicine at The London School of Medicine & Dentistry
Avinya, can you tell us about your life after GIS?
Life after GIS….an unforgettable summer! I travelled with friends and family, spent lots of time partying, let loose, slept in late and of course planned for my next 6 years in medical school. The summer went by very fast, and soon enough I found myself queuing up at Barts and The London to get officially enrolled in Medical school.
There were lots of similar faces around: all of us looking eager and lost at the same time. Moving to London was a big change – difficult, but exciting. Barts is almost like small family; everyone is so friendly and always ready to help out. You build such close relationships with people in such a short amount of time because you go through everything with them – both the worst and the best bits of med school – and you know that they’ll be there till the end of the 6th year (and indeed for a lifetime). I certainly made friends there who today I consider family.
‘Freshers’ week’ turned into ‘freshers’ month’….and for me it turned into ‘freshers’ year’! The whole year was really about finding my ground and learning to do things on my own. In all honesty, I made every mistake and learned every lesson.
What made you to choose this field?
I always knew I wanted to be a doctor – I never gave it a second thought!
What has your studies been like?
Hectic. We have several assessments throughout the year that we are required to pass in order to qualify to sit for the year’s final exams. This requires constant work throughout the year. We also have several assignments, group work and placements which keep us really busy. 2nd year has been a lot harder than 1st year. The number of assignments have doubled and the assessments are harder; with so many more deadlines and responsibilities, we all have far less free time!
What is the most rewarding part of your medical studies?
When you’re in medical school, the thought of qualifying as a doctor is, in itself, very rewarding. The first two years of med school have been heavily focused on building up the knowledge we will require for our clinical years: being able to apply this knowledge and relate it to the patients we meet in hospitals or GP clinics is also very rewarding .
What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this studies?
Perseverance and determination – there will be lots of ditches along the way, but you need to pick yourself up, dust the debris and keep moving! Eventually, you will reach your chosen destination.
Every med student goes through their own challenges and most (if not all) ask themselves at some point why they’ve decided to choose the course at all. Being able to remind yourself why you chose the course, why you’re so passionate about it, is essential to staying motivated. You have to be able to push yourself to continue, and not give up.
Do you have fond memories of your time at GIS that you’d like to share?
My experience at Garden School was priceless. I miss being in school! I was very fond of all the teachers I had; they were all fantastic and so helpful. I was particularly close to my form tutor Ms Jones, who I shared almost everything with. She was always there to support me.
Finally, do you have any advice for current students who would like to choose the same path as you?
It is not a bed of roses. In Garden School I achieved 4A*’s, in Medical school I was no one: everyone was an A/A* student. You start from scratch and its a level playing field.
It can sometimes be so demotivating, as it will feel like everyone around you is as (or more!) intelligent, but it’s important to remember that the application process to get into med school is tough but you were chosen for a reason, and that means you are capable of doing as well or better than other students. You have to really want to be there in order to get through. Now, in my second year, I’m excited to see what lies ahead of me!