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University: Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge, UK
School: Shrewsbury International School, Bangkok, Thailand
Cambridge IGCSEs in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, English as a First Language, English Literature, Geography, Maths, Physics, Thai;
Cambridge International A Levels in Biology and Physics.
Also studied three IGCSEs and two A Levels with another exam board.
When I was younger I really enjoyed biology but found that some concepts were not very relevant to everyday life. However, at my school we all had to give a biology presentation so I chose to do mine on osteoarthritis and knee replacement. This piqued my interest in medicine as it was a really good way of demonstrating how to apply knowledge of biology.
My decision to move to the UK was influenced by my experiences at school – Shrewsbury International School has close links to the UK (through Shrewsbury School, UK), and a lot of its students go on to study in the UK every year. The University of Cambridge is a very popular destination for Thai students and I was also attracted by the University’s intercalation programme, where you can pause your medical degree to study another subject for a year.
I certainly felt that the Cambridge International approach to teaching gave me an advantage, especially the emphasis on understanding rather than rote learning. Some questions in my university entrance exams required this type of approach, in order to answer questions on subjects which applicants may not have previously encountered.
I did quite a few extracurricular activities. I achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, volunteered as a tutor at the Bangkok School for the Blind, and was chair of the School’s Food Committee, and I could talk about all of these in my Personal Statement (part of the University’s application process). In addition, as I had to apply for some of my extracurricular roles, I learnt how to prepare for interviews.
I’m still involved in a lot of activities but my interests are now completely different. Now I regularly attend both the Caius Boardgames Society and the Cambridge University Thai Society, and was Secretary for both Societies last year. I’m also on a number of committees and next year I’ll be the Logistics Director for the 2024 Caius May Ball, and Secretary for the International Student’s Campaign for the Cambridge Student Union. These type of activities help me form connections with people outside my College and course, and with a degree as time-consuming as medicine I really appreciate not losing contact with friends elsewhere in the University.
Cambridge International A Level courses really teach you how to study, something for which I’m very grateful, and gave me the opportunity to explore subjects more deeply. I learnt how to understand the “why” of specific phenomena, and to use this as a basis for further learning. This approach is actively encouraged by Cambridge University, and is one way to move from a 2:1 to a first class degree. In terms of knowledge, both my Physics and Biology courses have supported my medical studies, particularly Physics (which I found surprising) - during our first year at University we did some Physics modelling, and even circuits, and my A Level knowledge was really helpful.
Everywhere is much calmer than in Thailand, even a city like London. I grew up in Bangkok so I’m used to bustling people, city lights and random noises, day and night. My first night in Cambridge was noticeably strange, as I was living next to part of the University which is deserted after 6pm. It also gets dark at 5pm in October which I really did not appreciate!
It took me some time to get used to the language, culture, mannerisms, and most importantly the accent of people in the UK. However, the International Student’s Campaign and the Cambridge University Thai Society were integral to helping me settle in. Otherwise, life is similar for university students in the UK and Thailand - studying, eating, sleeping, and relaxing every now and then.
My initial plan is to graduate, complete a residency programme (a specialism) either in the UK, USA or Australia, and then work for a period before going back to Thailand. Longer term I am thinking about a career in either psychiatry or neurology. I’m very interested in both subjects but I don’t know much about the clinical aspect. Hopefully by my fifth year, when I have to make career choices, I’ll have a better understanding of both options.
Yes I would, as Cambridge International qualifications nicely reflect a university learning environment. University study is much more intense than at school, and requires a lot more personal motivation, but the Cambridge International curriculum provides a good basis for higher education.
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