Connected Conversations | Xueying Sun
After a last-minute change of heart in the midst of Year 12 exams, Xueying Sun decided to pursue a career in medicine. Now in her fourth year of her studies, Xueying is grateful for the opportunity she was given to transfer into her dream career after first year. While she navigates the trials and tribulations of medical school, Xueying has grasped every opportunity she’s been given at uni to experience the full student life—all while hitting up the best vegan eatery joints Adelaide has to offer.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Xueying and I’m a fourth-year medical student (this is also the beginning of the spiel that every patient I talk to hears). Halfway through Year 12 exams, I developed an interest in medicine and decided to pursue this instead of my original plan. Medicine appealed to me because it’s a challenging but rewarding field and, as I’ve progressed throughout my degree, I’ve been able to see more examples of this. Being able to start placement last year and talk to real patients for the first time has helped me see how all those hours of study pay off. When I understand a topic well and can ask the right questions that help me gain a better understanding of the patient’s situation or illness, it feels valuable and meaningful. Although I can’t do much as a fourth-year, it’s nice to know that one day I’ll be able to apply this knowledge to help treat patients and hopefully improve their quality of life.
Why did you choose the University of Adelaide for your studies?
It was an easy choice since I’m from Adelaide. With medicine requiring a long and demanding course of study, it would be valuable to have family support throughout the process (and to save money on accommodation interstate!). Since I changed my mind when Year 12 was almost over and hadn’t done the UMAT (now called UCAT) that year, I decided to start a Bachelor of Health and Medical Sciences, do the UMAT during my first year at uni, and hopefully secure a spot in medicine the following year. I felt lucky that this pathway of tertiary transfer exists at the University of Adelaide. It meant that I could start an undergraduate degree in medicine despite changing my mind in Year 12 (17-year-old me lamented that it was ‘too late’ for me to decide that I wanted to study med) and didn’t have to sit the GAMSAT (*shudders*) to try for a postgrad degree. Plus, I don’t think my Year 12 ATAR would’ve been high enough, so being able to start over and get a higher GPA at uni was very handy.
What do you love most about studying at the University of Adelaide?
I love the student culture and all the opportunities it brings. When I first got into medicine, I was greeted by a huge variety of societies to join and events to attend. I had no idea that you could do so much extra stuff on top of your studies. Being involved in different societies and participating in things like MedRevue (a comedy musical production by the student society) is a great respite from getting too bogged down by the course workload and has allowed me to learn new skills and make friends that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’ll forever be grateful to the med students before me who helped set up the various societies, traditions and events that make uni life so much more interesting.
Have you ever had a life-changing experience?
I can’t really think of one specific or outstanding experience, which doesn’t make for a very dramatic or exciting answer, but I think the sum of all the experiences I’ve had in life has changed me in some way and led me to become the person I am. Maybe *insert mysterious voice* every experience is life-changing; some are just more overtly so. Actually, a big one for me is when my parents decided to move from China to Australia in 2004. I know my life would no doubt have looked quite different if I’d grown up in China instead.
What are your top café/restaurant recommendations around Adelaide?
There’s so many! Veggie Vie is always my go-to recommendation, and they recently relocated to McHenry Street in the CBD. A few other favourites are Zenhouse (mock duck), CRUX (anything with their vegan ‘egg’), Chefs of Tandoori, Cherry Darlings, Mai Kitchen (vegan roast ‘pork’), and Sky Vietnamese. (I’m making my dietary requirements quite obvious now). I could go on and on for hours, but I feel like that’s a decent list.
What’s your dream job?
Medicine-wise, I don’t really have one specific dream job in mind. I’d just like to do something I’m passionate about that gives me a means to help improve other people’s lives (clichéd, I know). I feel grateful to be studying medicine because there’ll be plenty of avenues which allow me to fulfil that. Maybe psychiatry or public health? I say that now, but I don’t have any real experience in these fields so it’s mostly just curiosity at the moment.
As for things which will help me get there, I think I’ll just keep an open mind and see what I find compelling as I progress through my degree, especially going into the clinical years where I’ll be on placement and getting plenty of real-life exposure. Also, saying yes to opportunities and trying new things, whether it’s medical or non-medical. There’s lots I still need to learn about the world! I trust that the more experiences I have, the better I’ll be able to decide what I want out of life.
I also just started a baking account on Instagram (@implantbaked) and someone recently reached out to me about stocking some baked goods at her food van. That was super exciting! So that does feel a bit like a dream job while I’m in uni – getting paid to bake a few fun things each week.