Health

Galician medicine (also) in Poland

When the rest of the children listened to stories about little bees that pollinate flowers, or the tale of the stork that comes from Paris, a little Ana Miraz leafed through an atlas on the evolution of a fetus for months. Those blue eyes widened after consulting his grandfather, a doctor: Where do children come from? “He didn’t mince words or beat around the bush,” says the young woman, now a medical student, who still remembers the astonishment that those images caused her, but because of the curiosity they aroused in her, not because of their impact. Perhaps the clinic of her ancestor, her obstetrician and gynecologist, in the heart of the Calvario neighborhood of Vigo was the seed that led to the sprouting of her very clear vocation. She is clear: “I think it was what inspired me the most since I was little; That someone who is passionate about the race like your grandfather can tell you with that passion his experience, his world. He catches you, he falls in love with you ”, sighs. There were also examples: his maternal grandmother, also a doctor; his mother, a veterinarian; her father, a pharmacist and nurse… And so, more than a decade after that chapter, with just turned 18, the young woman from Vigo opened her first corpse to study anatomy at a university in Poland. “Before the exam, the bodies from the morgue were made available to us,” he admits. With supervision, of course. “Some fainted,” he recounts in the third person.

But the path to achieve his dream was not without difficulties. Although from the age of 12 or 14 and after studying a subject (Applied Anatomy) at the Santo Tomé de Freixeiro Institute in Vigo, he was clear that he wanted to dedicate himself to Medicine, the route had many curves and some storm. “It was clear to me that I liked diseases and patients, but it was like finishing focusing on it,” she argues. Of course, that decision aroused the quorum family: full support for his vocation. Pandemic and burdens involved, fate had a bitter drink in store for Ana Miraz.

“After sacrificing my personal life to study High School, so as not to get distracted” –his average grade, 9.3, is outstanding–, “because it was very clear that I wanted to do Medicine, the note from the ABAU was not, by any means, what I thought… and I was left without a place”, she comments, still resigned. That difficult COVID course was that of extraordinary measures, also in education. The young woman from Vigo never believed that it would happen to her, although she kept a “second trick” for herself: access to a private one. When the doors of the public university were closed to her, she began to call them since, on the other hand, she had been analyzing plans B for months. But he never thought that his possibilities were practically exhausted.. “It seemed like nobody was taking into account all my effort; it was a horrible time, ”he argues. “I understand, even, that many people stop trying.”

There were – he assures – even students with an average of 9.5 who were left out. The spirits began to falter and the insistence, to fade. Ana saw her long-awaited entry into Medicine vanish. She contemplated studying from Law to Biology. “A horrible frustration,” she sums up.

Until, by chance, a distant cousin told his mother that he had studied in Pest, Hungary.. How? They thought at once. The windows of illusion reopened and the heart began to beat hard. From depression, he went to euphoria. And to send applications to Hamburg (Germany), Slovakia, Poland… “Hungary was the first to always sell out among Spanish students. So much so that I was surprised that this was not discussed, because it is easier and cheaper than going to a private one ”, he explains. The machinery was set in motion… and also a world of doubts. What to do with the language? Will the title be valid for Spain? Where will I live? After taking tests in Slovakia –a degree more focused on Chemistry–, and in Poland –with more weight in Biology–, Ana Miraz prioritized the second. In addition, it was based on the German educational system. “In Slovakia,” says the Galician, “this year 50 Spaniards have entered their first year.”

“The tuition fee is like that of the cheapest private university in Spain”

Ana Miraz – Medical Student


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On the Polish campus that would become his second home there are about twenty students from Spain. “Life continues at the level of Spain before the euro; the cost of registration is around 9,000 or 10,000 euros and the residence is worth about 150 euros per month. Without leaving and going on a trip, here I would only spend about 200 euros a month“, recognize.

Among other knots that were unraveling on their own, as if by themselves, the magic of social networks also appeared in his life through TikTok. Another young woman from Vigo, Nicole, from the exact same neighborhood and a student at the school across the street., with even groups of friends in common, was studying Medicine at that same Polish University. In fact, she was her guide during the first months and before, even her wardrobe adviser. “She was the one who told me that it was so cold, that I should wear very warm clothes”, she recalls, “or where I have to fly”. Not surprisingly, temperatures can reach -25 degrees. A climate to which he, he admits, is unable to adapt. In fact, he shows up at the appointment, at the end of December, with his jacket unbuttoned. “I’m sweating all the time, it’s hot here; I find it funny when my mother asks me to bundle up,” she says.

“Some manage to return to Spain the second year”

The European university where Ana Miraz (Nicolás Copérnico) from Vigo studies in Poland has two campuses: a public Polish division, totally free for nationals, in which the country’s language is vehicular; and another –more aimed at foreign students– and subsidized, in which classes are taught in English. Of course, the titles are homologable in Spain. It’s more, There are precedents for university students who began their studies in Poland and who later managed to go to study in Spain for their last cycle., repeating –compulsorily– some optional subjects and credits that they had not completed. For those who complete their degree in Poland, the validation can be extended for approximately one year”.

Starting university studies without knowing anyone and in a foreign country that does not speak English is not exempt from doubts. (normal) for many young people: “They all went to the same cities, I was the only one who went alone; There came a time a week after the start of the course, when I burst into tears and just told my mother that I didn’t want to start the course,” says student Ana Miraz, who left Vigo at the age of 18 and is now in her second year. “We are with people from India, Taiwan, Ireland or Germany and, once you live in a residence with everyone, it can become complicated because there are many different cultures”. “With a minimum level of Polish, there are those who stay to do their specialty there.” Of course, the dates of the school calendar are different in the academic calendar, which runs from October to July, and without as many Christmas holidays as those contemplated in Spain. Also, from one week to the next, temperatures can drop by ten or fifteen degrees. It’s a big contrast: at three in the afternoon it gets dark and I know of cases that have gone into depression”, assures the young woman.

Germany

It is not the only European country. German can also be quite a difficult language to learn. and sometimes it can even take many years to achieve a level of competence necessary to be considered acceptable within the medical profession. In the case of those people who want to obtain a medical license and become a doctor in Germany, they must prove a certain level of German when presenting all the documentation. Most of the states in Germany require a B2 level German certification. There are also other states that require a C1 level of medical German to obtain a medical license.

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