Every year, OzTREKK helps hundreds of prospective students apply to dental schools in Australia, and because of the reciprocal agreement between Canada and Australia regarding dentistry accreditation, getting a dentistry degree in Australia is a very attractive option for many people—including OzTREKK student Lorynn Westad, who’s currently in her first year at Sydney Dental School.
(Continuation from “From Yellowknife to Sydney: OzTREKK student trades snow for surf")
My educational background is fairly unremarkable. I came from a small public school in a farming community, my elementary school class only having five people in my grade. My high school had approximately 90 people in my grade and was located in an industry town with trade occupations dominating the future career interests of most of my classmates. Upon graduation I was one of three people who ventured out of the community to pursue university study and commenced my journey towards becoming a dental professional.
Choosing to study dentistryI had a positive experience as a kid. I had absolutely terrible teeth, so bad I never smiled in pictures because I was extremely self-conscious. To make things even more difficult, because of my occlusion, I also had a very obvious speech impediment that truly affected my ability to create and take advantage of social opportunities, and impacted my confidence a great deal. Eventually, I was able to get braces. In as little as a few months my teeth straightened significantly. It totally revolutionised my concept of self, and my self-esteem.
“The best things in life are worth working for.”
In addition, my speech improved to a point where my impediment was barely noticeable. Being able to appreciate what a huge difference the state of my smile made for me, I became quite fascinated by everything to do with teeth, and wanted to do the same for others one day. Plus with dentistry being a perfect integration of arts and science, it was a natural fit for me and I became determined to become part of the profession.
Choosing to move to AustraliaStudying abroad, particularly for the entirety of your degree, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With a desire for adventure and taking the path less travelled, I decided that studying in Australia was something that I had to do.
The Sydney was my first choice as I was attracted to the fact that the university offered the graduate-level Doctor of Dental Medicine, as well as the beautiful city itself is on the coast. I know that my choice to come to the University of Sydney was the right one.
Choosing to embrace a challengeI am enjoying the DMD program immensely, although I have never studied so much in my entire life. The program is extremely challenging, more so than I had initially thought, but despite it being overwhelming sometimes it is an excellent program. I was shocked that in the very first few weeks we start attending Simulation Clinic where we practice and develop our manual dexterity by drilling, filling, and polishing the teeth of our mannequin. Most programs don’t introduce this practical component so early, and I think having the early introduction, maximizing my opportunity to develop my practical skills will shape me into a very competent (and confident!) dentist upon graduation.
Choosing where to liveI ended up going with university accommodation at International House. It’s amazing because it’s right on campus, but the only fallback was that since the Sydney dental program is so busy, I haven’t been able to be as active in the International House community as I would like.
Living on campus is perfect for me. The only drawback is that it is expensive. I pay about $430 a week for a self-catered studio (fully furnished, unlimited internet, all utilities included). The nice thing was everything was set up for me when I got there so I didn’t have to stress at all.
“Studying abroad, particularly for the entirety of your degree, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
If I had any advice, I would say living on campus for the first semester is the best way to get used to Sydney. If you can get a half-year lease—many of my friends moved to less expensive or more attractive locations during their mid-semester break, but it’s really tough to know the area at first—don’t be intimidated. You’ll be oriented in no time!
Choosing to share tips with othersWatch flights for months before you go, as sometimes there are some really great deals. One of my classmates had a ticket for $600$ CAD one way—he just had a 22-hour layover in Hawaii. He spent most of his layover on the beach!
Plan early! It’s an expensive investment in yourself so make sure that it’s right for you. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. Identify where you could improve, whether that be with your DAT, GPA, or interview, and take the initiative to improve your areas of weakness! Don’t be discouraged!
I’m glad about the lack of Canadian winter! But honestly, the friendships that I’m building—that’s my favourite part. It’s an amazing adventure and a phenomenal opportunity, but prepare to work hard! Use your resources, make friends, and inspire each other. Embrace the challenge positively and believe in yourself.
The best things in life are worth working for.