By Sameer Masood, HBSc, MD

Sameer completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto as an international student. He subsequently went on to graduate from the MD program at the University of Toronto as an international student and matched to the highly competitive Emergency Medicine residency program at the same institution. To further develop his international education experience, he will be pursuing a Masters of Public Health at Harvard University (Class of 2017).

Here, he explains the reasons for coming to Canada for post-secondary education and discusses the challenges he had to overcome as an international student studying medicine in North America.

I arrived in Canada from Saudi Arabia for post-secondary education because of Canada’s excellent academic reputation internationally. Canada has three of the top 30 medical schools globally 17 and studying at top schools in Canada is more affordable than similar schools in the US or the UK. I understood that to obtain a medical degree in Canada, it would be critical to complete an undergraduate degree in North America. Canada also encourages its students to consider settling down in the country by giving immigration preferences to those with Canadian educational backgrounds.

I am often asked what the biggest challenge was during this whole process. As an international student, you are often competing with domestic students for the same academic and non-academic goals. However, you are at a significant disadvantage due to cultural, financial, social, or at times immigration-related barriers. For example, there were instances where I was not eligible for a scholarship or opportunity due to my status as an international student, despite being one of the most qualified candidates.

My advice for international students is to find mentors (preferably with an international background) early in their journey that can guide and help them through barriers that only international students may face and understand. It is already a tremendous investment in time and money to study abroad, so you want to make this process as smooth as possible. It is vital to be able to find an international student who has already accomplished what you are embarking upon. Furthermore, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of doing your research before deciding which school to attend for undergraduate studies. In fact, I would even suggest that it is essential to incorporate potential barriers to entering medical school while planning your post-secondary education, as your path to medical school will certainly be influenced by your decision to attend a certain school for undergraduate studies. Lastly, it is important to remember that while you do face additional challenges as an international student, you also bring unique skills and experiences that are unparalleled, and it is up to you to turn these experiences into strengths. I had to create my own path to get to where I am and certainly had my fair share of challenges in doing so.

17 QS Top Universities.

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