On 24th November 2015, I was accepted to do an elective in Oxford in July 2017. It was the most wonderful thing I have ever heard. I didn’t realise then that my way would be difficult.
My first visa expired before I could leave Gaza, because Rafah crossing was closed in June and July. I was offered a new position in November 2017, but again I was unable to reach Oxford, which was a real shock!
Finally, I managed to leave Gaza in 16th December 2017, but I only had two weeks left on my second visa. I had to try and figure out whether I could go directly and extend my visa from there. As it was nearing the Christmas break this wasn’t possible, so I decided to go to Jordan do an elective and reapply from there.
It was my first time outside of Gaza after many failed attempts. I was enthusiastic and, to be honest, a little afraid. Being away from my family is so challenging, but also I am working in two ways, the first is to do elective in Jordan, and the second is to get a new visa for the UK.
In Jordan, I did 1-month-rotation in the Surgical Department in Jordan University Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Nader Al-Bsoul. It was my first time to scrub in as an assistant in thyroid surgery and it was really amazing to participate in such delicate surgery.
I also took part in sessions with other Jordanian students who became friends and we have many trips together. It was my first time to form connections with non-Palestinian individuals and it feels good to have discussions with them about common problems Arab are facing nowadays, about medical schools and our plans for the future.
On the other hand, I was working really hard to get a new visa to join the elective programme in Oxford. Everything was going very well until I unexpectedly was refused. At that moment, everything turned upside down. I was so upset, those days were hell-like. After 3 days, Rafah Crossing opened again and I travelled back to Gaza.
Despite many challenges and problems and the fact that I failed to reach Oxford, I am really proud. I am one of few medical students who took the risks and travel to pursue their dreams despite the political situation around us. Not being able to go back to Gaza and attend my final exam and graduation ceremony were my greatest fears.
This journey added a lot to my personality and my thoughts. I took responsibility of my whole life from A-Z. I can say now that I am more confident and daring. From a scientific and practical view, I realized that medical graduates from Gaza’s universities are rival to those from other countries and they can compete very well.
I always remember the quote that says, “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness”; so do not expect your way to be easy, you have to fight for your dreams.