The GoGlobal Blog

Following My Heart

Following My Heart

Hi Friends,

Deciding whether to study abroad can be a stressful yet an exciting process, but you also have to keep in mind whether you’ll graduate on time and be prepared for grad school (if you plan on going). Especially, if you’re a pre-professional major, like me. If you’re on the fence about taking this opportunity, I hope my study abroad journey sheds some light and gives you the answer that you’re looking for.

For all of you wondering how I decided on studying abroad, well here is the long story short.

Chicago (I’m on the right)

I’ve been asked multiple times throughout the last two years about what I’m studying, where I’m studying and why I chose to study what I did. The answer seems rather simple. My name is Niyati Patel, currently studying Biology and Psychology at Loyola University. However, the real question doesn’t start there. When I say that I’m on the pre-medical track, their faces would drop in shock, like they didn’t believe I’d be able to do it.

 

“Why are you pre-med?”

“You know it’s going to take 12 years for you to finish school, right?”

“Are you ready for this?”

“You better get all A’s…. and study hard for that MCAT!”

 

Hearing a lot of this backlash made me feel a little disheartened about my dream because I felt like I needed someone else’s approval just to gain mine. But in the last two years, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what others believe or think. I know what I want and I just have to keep my head up and work hard.

Loyola had always been my top choice. But before I started my journey at Loyola, I researched things that made Loyola stand out to me. And one of those reasons was the study abroad program. I have always wanted to travel the world, experience different cultures and meet new people. It would be a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, be a little more outgoing, and also meet new friends.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I became serious about planning a study abroad trip to Rome. I was hesitant to apply because of all the pre-requisites I needed to complete for medical school. Being a pre-med student, we’re bound by certain norms. Having to take the pre-requisites in a timely fashion, and basically just STUDYING, STUDYING, STUDYING. But that’s not how I want to be portrayed. I wanted to be DIFFERENT.  A few months before I applied for the study abroad program, I had a conversation with a first year medical student. We came upon the topic of studying abroad and whether it would be a good fit for me. All she said was “Follow your heart. Do what you want to do. Enjoy undergrad as much as you can. That’s all the admission committee is looking for (besides GPA and MCAT scores, of course!).”  This conversation made me feel more motivated to make this trip happen.

So, a few days later, I applied. Got accepted. I still hadn’t told anyone that I was planning on going abroad for a semester. I was cautious to say anything.

 

“What if I get BACKLASHED again?”

“But, I’m only following my heart…”

“And WHEN ELSE am I going to get this opportunity, again?”

 

It wasn’t until the end of my spring semester that I muttered up the courage to tell my roommates. At this point, my cousins didn’t even know. I told my cousins that I was going in July, a month before I was leaving. Even then, they were like…

 

“Why are you going? Do you HAVE to go? Is it ABSOLUTELY necessary?”

“What about the MCAT? Are you sure you’ll graduate on time?”

“Will you still be PRE-MED?”

 

Those five words haunted me right when they came out of their mouths. I knew deep down that medicine was the only thing I wanted to do, so why were they telling me that I wouldn’t be pre-med when I returned? They went on to explain that after people experience traveling and not having to study for a semester, they change their minds. So what if I did? It wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Honestly, being pre-med requires a lot of commitment and dedication not just to school, but also to other extra-curricular activities. I know what my end goal is and don’t need people to tell me otherwise. By me studying abroad it doesn’t change the fact that I still want to go into medicine. Instead, it makes me wonder how I can get involved in medicine while I’m in Rome. Not just that, but I can look for opportunities that would strengthen my skills, whether that’s learning to communicate with people of different cultures or experiencing the different and the changing atmospheres around me and learning how to respond to them. Both of which would be a crucial experience to have once going to medical school and even afterwards.

I’m just following my dream and my heart. I don’t want to leave Loyola in two years with regrets of the opportunities that I didn’t take when I had them.

I still can’t believe that the day is closely approaching of when I’ll be in Rome. It’s so surreal. I am extremely excited to have taken this opportunity to find myself and can’t wait to share my journey studying abroad in Rome as a pre-med student.

Remember:

You may be told NO a thousand times, but you only need one YES to make your dreams come true! If I can do it, so can you!

Hope you stop by next time when I’ll be in Roma, Italia,

Ciao(:

n.p.

Comments are closed.