A home away from home for medical student Shehzeen

Shehzeen Hashmi has Pakistani heritage but resides in Dubai. She compares the similarities between the two places and discusses her start to life as a MBBS student at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) after joining us in September 2021.

"Ahead of arriving at UCLan, I wasn’t sure of what to expect and how I would be treated, is it as diverse and accepting as Dubai? I didn’t know too much about the north of England either. But I was really surprised to see how accepting, friendly and welcoming people are! Everyone is super helpful – I really appreciated that.

I chose to come here because I really liked the international approach of the MBBS course alongside the early placement opportunities. From my research about the University, the website gave me the impression that I would feel safe, feel like I belong in the area and not feel isolated. I also Googled the demographics in Preston and was happy to learn that, just like Dubai, it is a place full of diversity and different cultures.

I previously studied at the American Academy for Girls in Dubai and I found the US curriculum to be more holistic and it taught general concepts. Here at UCLan, I have had to adapt to a more specific and detailed approach to learning which I like because it’s important when learning Medicine to know all the details.

"Some of my favourite moments as a UCLan student have been the times I have been hanging out with friends that I have met here, some from the MBBS and Physician Associate courses and my roommates too."

Shehzeen Hashmi, MBBS

"For me, the highlights of the course so far have been the practical skills parts because we start with a hands-on approach to learning very early on. The physical examinations and simulated patients actually make you feel like an already qualified doctor this early in Year 1! It makes for a really fun course: applying knowledge, comforting patients and not just learning the theory of the biological side.

Of course, it is not the easiest course to study – although the content is not difficult to understand, there is a lot to learn and managing workload can be challenging on such an intense course.

I really appreciate how the Professors are very passionate about their subjects - I thought I wouldn’t like some areas of the course as much as others, like neuroscience for example, but the Professors’ passion comes through. If the content seems too much, they make it interesting and it makes me want to know and learn more.

Some of my favourite moments as a UCLan student have been the times I have been hanging out with friends that I have met here, some from the MBBS and Physician Associate courses and my roommates too. Usually when I am not studying I go out with friends, the weather has been nice lately so we go to the park in the morning, go out for things to eat and hang out at people’s accommodation. My favourite places to eat in Preston are Jaffa (for Middle Eastern food), Thai Royal (for Asian food) and IceBurg (for burgers).

Shehzeen outside the Student Centre at our Preston Campus
Shehzeen outside the Student Centre at our Preston Campus

"The University campus is only 10 minutes from the city centre, so I like the placement of it for things like restaurants. Preston is a quiet and peaceful place, and in my opinion (coming from Dubai) the weather is really nice because you can actually walk outside! The parks are so pretty here – this really helps when you are stressed out and you go on walks. It’s a beautiful city, that is very safe - I have not seen or heard anything bad.

The north of England is very diverse and the people are so nice – which I didn’t think would be the case. It is an amazing community here, everyone is helpful and supportive. Homesickness happens but because the people are nice and welcoming the transition is easier. It is a happy, peaceful and accepting place to be - I thought it would be a lot different from Dubai in terms of having multicultural communities, but it isn’t at all.

If anyone is coming from Dubai, the north is a nice, welcoming place in general and transitioning to university life from high school is not that difficult in Lancashire. Everyone I have met at UCLan has made many friends too, it’s such a nice place to live when you are leaving your family to move abroad for the first time. I am the first person in my family to study abroad and I picked a great place to be my home from home."

"Most School Counsellors give you options about further study, but Miss Page gave me her time and made an effort to explain things to me and my parents. I am so appreciative that she went out of her way to help me find the right university to pursue my future goals. I’m honestly really happy here at UCLan, so Miss Page helped me make a great decision."

About Miss Carmen Page, American Academy for Girls Dubai from Shehzeen Hashmi, MBBS