Oceane Eichler, 22, is a second-year medical student at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. She shares her experiences and journey with the hope she will motivate and inspire other young Seychellois to take a career in the medical field. Oceane is originally from Pointe Au Sel, Mahe, Seychelles, where she lived with her Seychellois mother, her father, who is half German & half Seychellois, and her younger brother. She pursued her education at the Independent School of Seychelles. In a brutally honest conversation with Cosmocreole, Oceane says that one doesn’t need to be super bright to make it, but you need the passion, dedication and belief to get you to the finishing line.
I was always very much interested in the medical field since I was very young, so I never imagined doing anything else.
In December of 2017, my grandmother was involved in what we believed to be a minor car accident which led to her condition not being properly evaluated and very much underestimated. The next day, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in an induced coma at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria. Unfortunately, after 52 days, she passed for reasons out of the doctors’ control, and I had never felt more helpless. Anyone who knows me is aware that she was and probably still is the most important and influential person in my life.
Losing my grandmother became the point where I committed to studying medicine in the hope of helping other people and maybe preventing other families from going through the extremely diﬃcult time my family and I went through.
Before studying, I worked for a few months at the Seychelles hospital in the male, female and pediatric wards and, my favourite, the pathology department. I was able to shadow some doctors and be in the midst of the chaos, which helped me understand what my life would be like after graduating, and I had never felt so content. My shifts usually ended at 4 pm, but often I tried to stick around longer because I was so invested. I was lucky enough to have a doctor who took me under his wing and showed me the ropes in his department of Neurology, where I was able to sit in on 1 to 1 consultations, which I was extremely thankful for.
To be accepted at the university, I had to first sit for a written exam followed by an interview. The interview consisted of a random paragraph about a specific medical case that I was allowed to read for ten minutes and then relay this information oﬀ the top of my head to the doctors interviewing me. This was then followed by fundamental questions about why I wanted to study medicine and chose the university.
It is important in interviews to be confident, calm and interesting. The key is to show your passion for medicine. Whether you are a straight-A student or not at that moment, it doesn’t matter, and your future is in the hands of whoever is sitting in front of you. At that point, it does not matter how much knowledge you have; all that matters is that you radiate energy that proves to this stranger who is interviewing you that this is what you want to do, and you will do it.
My advice to my younger self would have been to believe in myself more and not compare myself to others that were succeeding better in school. In Seychelles, the competition between students at my school was high because most of us were aiming for a scholarship, so I often felt less intelligent or less capable of pursuing my dream if I wasn’t achieving the grades that others were. However, when I came to university, I realised that there is no competition because we all have the same passion and will end up with the same degree if we work hard enough. As the years go by, I realise that I am no less than anyone else, and if I’m successful in my exams as I have been, I must be capable of pursuing my dream no matter the obstacle.
I wanted to study at a University in a big city, especially coming from a small island. Since I received a fully-funded scholarship from the Seychelles government, there were only a few country options; the Czech Republic was one of them. I did a lot of research online and made contact with Seychellois medical students studying abroad, and after visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, I fell in love, and that was it.
Charles University has five faculties of medicine, three of which are in Prague, one is located in Pilsen and one in Hradec Kralove. They are independent institutions of equal standing, each having its own medical facilities. They all offer degree programmes in English, and the awarded degrees are comparable and are accredited by the European Union.
I wanted to study somewhere that based their system of teaching and learning on family-style communication and support between students of diﬀerent years, so the 3rd Faculty of Medicine was the perfect option for me.
Despite missing my family, friends, the beach and all the good food from home, I have to say that it was pretty easy for me. I always wanted to see what the world had to oﬀer me, things I could never get back home in Seychelles, so I was prepared for the changes.
My support system at home was the foundation of everything because I was always pushed to aim for more and not settle for less. I watched my parents achieve things for themselves and never settle for what they were given, which was my motivation. They worked so hard to put me in a good school and kept me grounded, so the transition was easy knowing I was leaving to make them proud and, most importantly, make myself proud.
I am a second-year student, and I have started on the Anatomy of the Human Body, which involves seeing and studying real preserved human specimens. This has been the most interesting thing so far since I aim to become a Forensic Pathologist one day.
When I came to medical school, I had doubts, and I was so worried I wouldn’t make it because I was never a straight-A student in my younger years, so being successful in all of my exams was definitely a massive boost. When you’re a student, you spend so much of your time working to achieve success, and when you do, there is no better feeling than that.
The pandemic for me was extremely hard because I was in my first year of medical school, excited to start and meet new people, but due to COVID, all my classes were online for the entire year. So I spent hours a day looking at a screen, and if I’m honest, it caused me to slack oﬀ for the whole year, which I later regretted when my final exams came at the end of the year. It was the first exam I had taken in person at the university; having not taken it seriously the entire year (The pandemic sucked the motivation out of me!) and the pressure of being in an exam hall for the first time—I was not prepared. It almost cost me my education. So after getting this big slap in the face, I eventually got my act together, worked extremely hard and passed the year.
Life in Prague
Prague is a beautiful city, and it is a perfect size, not big like other European capitals. It has a huge student population, with people from all over the world so the culture you get exposed to is something I could not put into words, it gives you a diﬀerent view on life. Compared to other countries in Europe, it is also cheap, and as a student, I’m sure others will agree, there is no better thing than that.
Prague is known for its greenery, and it is full of beautiful parks where I spend a lot of my time studying and being with friends; I find myself more productive in such places. Moreover, home is where I go to relax and not have to worry about school at the end of the day. So definitely the parks are my favourite and, of course, several small bars where I like to go and catch up with friends over some drinks, which is so important; as a medical student, you need downtime.
Message to Prospective Students
I think anybody can study medicine if you are prepared to devote and balance your time. I think having that balance is the most important thing. Regardless of what anyone says, if you want to study medicine, then do it for yourself; it doesn’t matter where you come from or if you are not a straight-A student. Yes, you have to have decent grades, but if you have passion, nothing can stop you at the end of the day. NEVER doubt yourself.