Every year, UNSW makes sure that it enrols around 70-80 rural students into its medicine program in order to maintain a steady commitment to the improvement of healthcare in the bush. The team at The Jugular talked with a few of the first year rural students to see how they were finding the transition from country to city living. The students who were kind enough to lend us some of their time were:

Left to right: Dhruv Kapoor (Lavington, NSW); Ava Del Tufo (Milton, NSW); Caterina Klasen (Singleton, NSW); Angus Wilson (Toowoomba, QLD)

Were you apprehensive of the city before you came?

Dhruv: I wasn’t too scared of the city before I came. Obviously it’s quite a big place and there are a lot of people around, but I’ve done a bit of city living in my earlier years. Being in medicine, I am extremely lucky because the whole community is really tight knit, and it’s not long before you have a big group of like-minded friends, many who are also from the country. So they are having same experience as me right now as well. I guess I’d advise other rural students, who are thinking of coming into medicine, not to stress out too much because soon the uni feels quite like home and all your peers and staff will make sure you’re taken care of.

Ava: Not really, although I was a bit unsure of the public transport system. I’ve travelled to the city lots of times, and I have seen how busy the trains and buses can get. On top of that, Sydney is a very complex place, it still seems quite daunting getting from A to B sometimes. Although, I did know there would be lots of resources available, and lots of people who could help me, such as college tutors. In truth, I was more excited than anything else.

Caterina: I felt a little prepared for the city, as I went to a boarding school in the city, so I felt like the ways of the city weren’t completely new to me. Although that said, I was still a little apprehensive because I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I didn’t really know many people going to uni.

Angus: It was a shock to say the least. I learned the hard way that living in ‘the city’ and visiting ‘the city’ were two completely different things entirely. For example, the public transportation situation was certainly a lowlight for a considerable period, but after a while it became pretty natural. 

What do you most like about studying in Sydney and staying at college?

Dhruv: There’s a lot more to do in Sydney. All the facilities are much better than at home, especially for sport and other recreational activities, and they’re all really close by. This means that there is always something to do, you never really get bored in Sydney.

Ava: I especially love how everything is so compact in the city. It’s really easy to access a lot more activities and events than what you would be able to in the country. I also find the college life on campus not only super convenient but also lots of fun.

Caterina: I like how everyone in Sydney is always really willing to go out and do things. There’s plenty of opportunities in the city to have a good time, whether going to a restaurant, bar or the shops. Sometimes in the country, all your friends can be busy or away, so you’re often left with yourself for entertainment.

Angus: I guess all the energy of studying in Sydney and living at UNSW really assisted in getting me swept up in the motions of university life. I could not even imagine how I would have acclimated without all the social opportunities put forward by my college.

What do you least like about studying in Sydney?

Dhruv: The surroundings. I find Sydney to be a bit of an ugly place compared to back home in the country. There are no trees, mountains, nice birds, or anything like that really. That might sound like a bit of a trivial problem, but coming to Sydney has really shown me how important nature was to me, and how I almost had a spiritual connection to it.

Ava: When I first came to Sydney, I was pretty shocked at how expensive everything was. I had to think a lot more about my budgeting. Also, I don’t like how Sydney is such a noisy place. There are always buses driving past, motorcycles revving their engines and just people walking around everywhere. It can be quite hard to find a bit of peace. In the country I used to love the dead silence of the night but I don’t get that anymore.

Caterina: I feel that people in the country are generally more relaxed about their life and how they go about things, compared to here in the city, where I feel quite small and lost in the craziness. Also, in the city everyone is nameless and faceless, while in the country everyone smiles and has a chat with you, and having that connection with your community is very comforting and fulfilling.

Angus: I don’t have any complaints about just my student life in Sydney – studying at UNSW is pretty enjoyable and feasible. In terms of general Sydney living, I guess I really don’t like the business and craziness involved in getting around the city. There is always a bit of a push and shove to get onto buses and trains, especially in peak hour, which really gets on my nerves after a while. Also, leaving the social loop that still exists in my hometown, saying goodbye to friends, family, pets and other acquaintances, was tough. It is almost a guilty feeling, to be completely honest.

Do you think you will end up living in a major city now – or will you always stick to your roots in the country?

Dhruv: Yeah I will definitely head back to the country after medicine. I feel like I will have a lot more of an impact that way, and will really be able to help the community where I came from. If I stay in the city, I feel like I’ll just become another doctor in a huge network.

Ava: At the moment, I think I see myself staying in the city, as there are a lot more opportunities for work that I could explore. Plus, I can never see myself getting bored in the city, as there is so much to do, compared to the country, which can be very quiet at times.

Caterina: I will probably always stay in the country and work there. All my family is back home in the country, and I don’t think I could leave them completely for the city, so I guess I have a bit of a family connection drawing me back.

Angus: Well it was always the dream to move on from the small town to bigger and (presumably) better things, but if there is one thing I’ve learned so far – other than collagen is the answer to every question – is that I should maintain an open mind about where I am heading.

If there was a small campus in your hometown – that provided the exact same teaching experience as here in Kensington, would have you picked that over this? Why or why not?

Dhruv: I think I would’ve still come to the city. I feel like it is an important experience to have and I would’ve felt as though I was missing out if I didn’t at least try it. Even if I found myself hating living in the city, I thought it would only deepen my appreciation for the country and its benefits.

Ava: No, I definitely would’ve come to Sydney regardless. I come from an area with a population of 25 and although my high school had 1400 students you know everyone really well, I really wanted to go out and meet new people. Also, my parents wanted me to experience city life as they both spent their late teens and early twenties living in big cities.

Caterina: Probably not, I have always wanted the experience of living in the city and studying here. I was quite excited to live in completely different surroundings, and meet completely different people and open up opportunities I never knew about before.

Angus: I would have to say probably not. Part of the appeal of moving away was the prospect of meeting new people, becoming more independent and to see new things, just to name a few. I think that living in the city is definitely an experience to have, and I didn’t want to miss out on it.

Do you think there is a change in the mentality of the students in Sydney, compared to country?

Dhruv: Yes, absolutely. Everyone in the city seems to work lot harder than the students back home in the country. I guess there is a lot more competition with so many students in the city so they are always geared to work that little bit harder to get the results they want.

Ava: Yes, I think they are a lot more competitive, but in a good way, so that everyone is giving 100%. This way most people end up getting results they are happy with. Also, everyone is very happy to help their peers if they seem to be struggling in a topic, and everyone is happy to give you their notes or explain a concept in their own way.

Caterina: Definitely, I can see everyone is a lot more serious about their work and study. I don’t think this is a bad thing though, as I particularly enjoy being in a community of like-minded people who are efficient workers and who are eager to learn more. This also just means that people are more likely to know their stuff, so I can always find someone to help me out if I’m having trouble understanding something.

Angus: I think there is a bit of a difference in mentalities. Country students, although they are hardworking, seem less stressed than city students. I think this can actually help in academic performance. Although, saying that, I have attempted to interact with other students, rural and city, with a similar mentality towards studying. So long as you put yourself out there it is not difficult to meet like-minded peers.

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