Study Abroad Spotlight–David Bachoy

Meet David Bachoy, a UConn c/o 2019 graduate who majored in Physiology and Neurobiology and Psychology, with a minor in Neuroscience. He went on to earn his Master’s degree in 2020 from the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language and the University of the Basque Country in Spain. During his time at UConn, one of David’s notable experiences was serving as a Protect Our Pack leader, which he shares taught him how to be an advocate for his community and helped him to gain new perspectives on others’ college experience. David is currently a third-year medical student at The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. He has completed multiple research projects (posters, theses, manuscripts) in psychology, neuroscience, gardening, COVID, and anesthesia during his training. He aspires to be an anesthesiologist in a hospital located within a large city. Aside from medicine, his interests are cooking, traveling, hiking, and spending time with his labradoodle, Ella.


Share with us your experience(s) abroad!

I initially studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain for a neuroscience trip with UConn classmates and students from other Universities, both from the US and Spain. On this summer trip I was able to get my bearings, learn about the country’s geography, and setup my soon return. Spain was a country I felt safe in because I had been there many times for vacation and had an understanding of the language.

Upon graduation, I immediately completed an accelerated one-year research master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience of Language at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language and the University of the Basque Country. Here, I traveled again throughout Europe, took cooking classes, practiced my language skills, and learned how to live independently.

What was your favorite thing about your experience abroad?

The food is surely the best part about being abroad. I’m a foodie and I love to cook. I would go to the market multiple times a week for fresh bread, the catch of the day, and sweet pastries. I took cooking classes and learned how to use new ingredients. I gained a deep appreciation for using fresh foods that are locally sourced. I also sampled foods at all price points- from just 1 euro to well over 100 euros, so that I could appreciate how the same ingredients can be portrayed in different ways. While I did not do anything truly pre-health related during my master’s, what I did gain was lifelong skills that I will carry with me throughout my life. It’s important to note that you do not need to do anything medically related abroad. This experience is about developing yourself, however that may be.

What’s one key thing you learned?

We live in a bubble in our community and there is so much more to see and experience. People live very different lives from us all over the world. What makes sense to us may be nonsensical to someone else. If you are seeking to be a global health leader, politician, or historian, you must first understand and appreciate other communities before deciding how to better your own.

How did it help you in your pre-medical/medical journey?

I made lifelong connections with friends and colleagues abroad. While some may be a free couch in Europe when I visit again, others may be future collaborators on research projects. Additionally, completing a master’s thesis honed my manuscript writing skills and prepared me for this in medical school. These are skills I have used multiple times now with research mentors here in the States. The other helpful part of my program was that I learned how to learn on my own and how to access various resources. In college, your path to success in coursework is more structured and linear. In graduate school, I found that there are many more ways to success, but that comes with more responsibility and independence.

Furthermore, I not only witnessed first-hand an entirely different medical system, I also learned about different social determinants of health in the local community simply by being engaged. This gave me a different perspective on our medical system and helped me develop what I envision to make it more conducive to our greater community. Also, living abroad prepared me for medical school where I would be thrown into a different place where I did not know anyone and initially lacked a support system. Being a medical student and living abroad are similar in that you have to advocate for yourself and discover what resources you need to succeed.

How did you fit it into your schedule and when did you start planning for it?

Studying abroad during the summer is easy to fit in if you do not have family obligations or a summer occupation. As far as my year abroad after college, I had to take a gap year which meant starting medical school a bit later. This is often a plus because schools love to see some personal development before going straight in. It is certainly time well spent. The planning for this was over half a year in the making in order to get my visa and all of my necessary documents (and funds!) together. Give yourself time to apply for scholarships- I ended up getting a full ride to the program just by applying to a government grant in Spain. It is never too early to start researching programs and making some preliminary plans.

Is there any advice or wisdom that you would share with current students interested in going abroad?

If you have the time, make it work! You may not have time to do so later on in your career. Immerse yourself in the culture, language, and try some adventurous foods. Engage with the community by volunteering, taking an art class, or by visiting a local museum while abroad. Going abroad is often financially more affordable than traveling within the United States so don’t be afraid to do your research on what fits your goals.


To learn more about going abroad as a pre-health student, view the recording of our Chat with Alumni: Experiences Abroad on our website here.

Posted 10/05/2022