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From California to Pamplona

My name is Joel Marshall, I am from California and I decided to come to the University of Navarra because I was looking for adventure, change, and to experience living in another culture.

The first year starting at the UNAV was a hard year because of the adjustments I had to make living abroad, as well as the mindset I had coming into my 6 years here. I was very far from my family and friends, however I was quickly able to find a new group of friends to have a great experience and together we created an environment for supporting each other. Once I had a great group of friends and was established in Spain, I feel I was fully capable of handling the life of a medical student while also taking the time to discover the joys that Pamplona and Spain itself offers. 

The Universidad de Navarra offers a very high quality Medical program. My favorite attributes of the program being the quality of education, the information they teach is all of the newest and up to date, and most highly I value the availability of the staff. I have had an amazing experience with the administration as well as my professors because of the amount of support and access you have to meet up with them and resolve any issue you have.

I was also worried when I began that the information I was being taught at the UNAV might not be the same as that taught in the US. While both systems for medical school are very different, I was still well prepared for my USMLE exams. I had to work very hard on my own to study for the USMLE seeing as subjects are taught in a different order, the information emphasized on the test is different, as well as the question structure. However, to all of those thinking of doing residency in the US, I can say after the test that there is no reason for a student at the UNAV to do poorly on the USMLE with hard work and proper self guided preparation. 

Now that I am in my 6th year of medicine and looking back on my experience, I am very happy I made the decision to come study abroad at the UNAV. While the universities ideals and my own are not always in concordance, I appreciate very much the quality of education that they gave me as well as the passion I saw in the staff and in my professors to help prepare the future generations of doctors.  I feel my perspective of the world has changed by living abroad, it puts the world into perspective and gives you a greater understanding of the trials of people from different cultures and backgrounds and reminds you of really what’s important and unites us all.

If I was to give advice to students entering their first year at the UNAV as an international or not, I would emphasize 3 points. One, is to put yourself out there and put energy into the group of friends you will inevitably find, they will be your greatest support while away from home and will also rely on you in their times of need. Two is take advantage of all of the activities, groups, and trips organized by the university and immerse yourself into Spain's rich culture. Lastly, I would advise to take full advantage of the availability of the academic faculty. You will have struggles and problems but all of your professors and faculty is there to help you! Good luck and have the greatest experience you can!!

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