An Interview with a medical student


Thomas Hughes has lived in Catalonia in Spain since he was 10. Having progressed through the Catalan education system he is now studying to be a doctor at the University of Girona.

Tell us about the course that you are following in Girona.

I started the course in 2013, the course is six years long and the teaching method is pretty interesting. It’s called PBL (Problem Based Learning) which means that rather than normal classes with 80 plus students and 1 teacher explaining the subject, we learn in small groups (normally around 10). Those in the PBL classes are given a case, then as a group we decide what information we need to understand the case and find this information by ourselves. We then resolve the case and present the information found as a group.


“The University of Girona”

How old were you when you decided you wanted to study medicine?

I was around 16, it was during my last year of secondary education and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study but I had always preferred sciences over other subjects and also had been interested in the human body from a young age.

You moved to Spain when you were ten. How did you find your experiences as such a young international student?

At the beginning it was really hard, I went to the local public school where I had all the lessons in Catalan and Spanish. At first it was hard to make friends, learn in class… however I definitely believe it was worth it as in a couple of months I had a basic concept of Catalan and Spanish and within a year I felt confident enough to be able to follow the classes and talk to people without any problems. The school really helped me early on, even though all the classes were in Catalan and Spanish they let me do separate work in the first months and also gave me extra classes to pick up the language. All in all I believe that going to a public school was the right choice due to the immersion into the language.

What is the main language that your course is taught in?

It is mainly taught in Catalan, however seeing as the amount of “normal” classes are very few, you choose the language you learn in. I personally mainly use Spanish and English books and articles due to the fact that there are more of them. The exams are in Spanish or Catalan.


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