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How a third culture kid found her place as a medical student in the US

medical student in the US
Christie Zheng is a medical student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Source: Christie Zheng

Even before she knew it, Christie Zheng’s experience in an international high school was preparing her for US medical school. Born in New Zealand and raised in China, her international education exposed her to a diverse learning environment: students came from various cultural backgrounds, and the curricula encourage students to explore their passion.

I also had ample opportunities to travel with friends abroad to participate in swimming and business competitions,” the University of Virginia medical student tells over e-mail. Fuelled by her love for food, travel, and learning, Zheng was compelled to continue her education abroad. Her decision was sealed when she got accepted by a university close to her heart. 

Now, having settled in Virginia, Zheng mentors other international students applying for medical school in the US via F-1 Doctors. Here’s what she has to say about her experience so far.

medical student in the US

Zheng intends to apply for residency programmes in the US upon completing her course. Source: Christie Zheng

Why did you choose to study in Virginia, US? What do you like most about studying here?

I chose to be a medical student in the US because of the high-quality medical training and cutting-edge research. I am currently studying at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. What attracted me, in the beginning, was the programme itself, but over time, I have also grown to enjoy living in the city. Public transportation is really convenient in Charlottesville and there are many amazing local restaurants to try out as well.

What are you studying? Why did you choose this US medical school?

I am currently studying medicine at the University of Virginia. I chose this programme because of the integrated curriculum and the welcoming learning environment. The curriculum at UVA provides us with very early patient exposures and encourages us to think about different perspectives of medicine, including ethics, quality improvement, and social issues. Faculty members I have met are more than happy to provide us with support, which extends beyond the classroom to shadowing and research. We are also proud of the collaborative environment among the student body.

Tell us about your most memorable time at the University of Virginia.

The most memorable time for me was probably spending Chinese New Year with a bunch of friends. We made dumplings from scratch and the master baker of our group also made delicious egg tarts. Nothing is better than celebrating a traditional holiday with close friends and tasty food!

What are your top recommendations or advice to others planning to study in the US?

Since there are lots of amazing programmes here, I advise all future medical students in the US to do thorough research on the programmes to gain a better idea of which one fits the best. Some relevant topics include the specific curriculum of the programme, financial aid availability for international students, and location.

What are your plans for the future?

I am super excited for the upcoming clinical years and I am planning to apply to residency programmes after completing medical school.