I had a unique opportunity to chat with Samuel who is a dental student in Mexico! Like me, he is in his first year of dental school. I have no idea how dental schools work in other countries, so this was a fun and informative chat.
He also reminded me what those delicious pastries I ate in Arizona are called: buñuelos! I want to take a vacation to Mexico just for their delicious foods… One thing Philly is missing is good Mexican food.
First, tell me a little about yourself.
My name’s Samuel. I’m from Acapulco, about 4 hours drive south from Mexico City where I live now. I’m in my first year at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It is a resort town with great weather in the weather, so spending the winter breaks here is great.
I am a deep lover of Jazz and Classical music! In my free time I play the double bass. I am in an orchestra and also go on tours. I am also interested in getting to know foreign cultures through meeting new people with different backgrounds from mine.
Seeing how dentists take different paths in different countries, I asked about how it works in Mexico. Instead of applying after finishing an undergraduate degree, future dentists apply directly to a dentistry program in Mexico (Korea has been shifting from this system to graduate dental degrees).
After graduating from high school, you take the nationwide university admissions test which includes literature, mathematics with a special emphasis on biology and chemistry. If you have a high enough score (usually bio-medical departments require the highest scores), you can enroll into the dentistry department without a previous bachelor’s degree.
When we graduate from this 4-year program, we get the title “Dental Surgeon”. Some other universities give the title “Stomatologist.” Many people go on to get graduate degrees.
Their clinics look a lot like ours… including the see-through blue gowns.
Samuel also noted that because there are no core classes (literature, history, etc), this program is essentially a dentistry graduate program in America. How is your program structured?
We take basic science classes the first two years. Third and fourth year we are sent to one of the many clinics that the university owns for practice. We continue to take dentistry classes at the same time. Besides the 4 year program, we need to complete a full year of practice at a government health clinic as a requirement for graduation. This semester we have Masticatory system, Nervous and Endocrine system, Dental surgery, Preventive dentistry II, Radiology and English.
That’s similar to our schedule! What’s your day like? Do you have class 10-5PM?
The first two years we have 8 hours of class a day, from 7 am to 3pm. This is 2 classes per day, which means 4 hours each class! Sometimes I think it´s unnecessarily long…
I am not used to staying up and studying very late, so I get everything done by 11PM and go to sleep- or I try to. It doesn’t happen often. This is the hardest thing I’ve been facing while being a dental student.
Do you do anything for fun? Do you have time for fun?
As you know, dental school life is so busy that it is hard to do other things besides studying, but I try to do things that doesn’t involve thinking too much, like working out. I also take a few minutes to listen to relaxing music. I also cook for myself which helps distract me a little bit. Even during weekends I usually have tons of things to read!
Sam is in the middle of his two month break from school. He says that although he brought some books home for the break, he’s taking a break from school. It was so much fun chatting with him & learning about how dental schools work in Mexico! And to know how similar our dental school experiences are, even when we’re in different countries.