European Med Life

It’s Labor Day for all my American friends and family, and usually I join in enjoying the day off with copious amounts of food, sleep, and HGTV. But today’s the first time I’ve actually put “laboring” into Labor Day, because it was the first day of classes over here at the University of Pécs Faculty of Medicine.

Yes, that’s right – I’ve officially began my journey as a European med student!

I know, I’ve been MIA from writing these past two weeks as I’ve gotten settled in (shout out to those whom I promised pictures and updates…they will come gradually). But bear with me; I’m a med student now (eek! I get to say that!).

Recently – as in, about two weeks ago – my Dad and I took all my packed bags (which was only 2 suitcases, surprisingly) and headed off on the long journey from Dallas to Pécs (rhymes with “h”), in beautiful southwestern Hungary. Med school is already a crazy ordeal; but to embark on that life change in a new country? Where I don’t speak the official language? Does that sound crazy? Yes? Well, sign me up! I’ve loved travelling since…forever. I’ve also loved medicine (and music and writing, but that’s a different story for another time) for practically my whole life, so in thinking of med schools, I wanted to go to an international school that would seamlessly blend these two passions of mine. And wow, the UP delivered. In my class group (about 15-20 of us), there are students from Jordan, Iran, Israel, Spain, Germany, Norway, Cyprus, Nepal, India, Canada, Argentina, and Nigeria. It’s the norm for students here to be multilingual; if you want motivation to learn a new language, just come here and make some friends. On my first Monday at the school, I met a 3rd year student who spoke nine languages. NINE. And he wasn’t kidding, because he broke out speaking those languages with various other students and patrons who passed by. I was, and am, in heaven just listening to the massive accomplishments of the other students in my med school class.

But if I am to be truthful, the experience didn’t start out in awe and joy for me. Now, Pécs is a wonderful town with kind people – it was a 2010 European Culture Capital, along with Istanbul, Turkey and Essen, Germany, and is situated near the Mecsek mountains, obscenely close to the border of Croatia and close enough to the sea such that the weather is quite heavenly (at least so far…). But when I got here a couple weeks back, I naturally missed my family, my friends, and all things familiar to me. I kept telling myself, “Layo, you’ve studied abroad before!” But that’s the beauty of Europe: no two countries are alike, and the weight of my decision was weighing on me. What was I doing? What was the quickest way for me to get home?

Here’s the lovely thing about being best friends with a compassionate God: He pulled me up and dusted me off and showed me the blessing it was to be here, gradually (I’m still discovering things up till today). And He did this through the spectacular people He placed in my life, both new and old. My family and friends from home (you know who you are and I love you dearly) never stopped with encouraging words. Even though we were hours apart, I felt so lifted up and strengthened to go another day. And then, I discovered a church here through the painstaking search that my Mom did, and WOW. I was overwhelmed, this time in a good way, at the kindness I was shown as the newbie on the block.

Now, I’m really enjoying my time here. The smile that you see on my face in my Opening Ceremony clothes is full of genuine joy and gratitude for this opportunity I’ve been given, and I can’t wait to share more of my adventures on this journey here with you.

Happy Labor Day! And let the med school festivities begin (I use “festivities” lightly…)!


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