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News > Old Boy News > An Immersion of Cultures

An Immersion of Cultures

5 May 2023
Old Boy News
Old Boy Michael Gianarakis (2014)
Old Boy Michael Gianarakis (2014)


Class of 2014

Old Boy Michael Gianarakis (2014), pictured, is a 2019 recipient of the Churchie Foundation ‘Scholarship for Old Boys’. He recently attended the St George’s University of London and has penned the following recollections of his experience.

In Year 8 English class, I recall being tasked to write a letter to myself that I would open four years later in Year 12. In that letter I told myself that my future entailed embracing the experiences and challenges of life abroad. Nine years on from writing that letter, I saw this dream come to fruition with the support of the Churchie Foundation Overseas Study Scholarship for Old Boys.

In 2019, I ventured overseas to start medical school at the St George’s University of London program delivered by the University of Nicosia in Nicosia, Cyprus. Living and studying in the island nation of Cyprus was an incredible experience that allowed me to immerse myself in the Greek language and culture. It also brought me together with students from diverse cultures, religions and countries including America, Canada, England, South Africa, Lebanon, and Israel. I learnt a lot about the rich history of Cyprus, travelled to Ancient Roman and Byzantine archaeological sites, swam at the stunning beaches on the south coast and explored the charming mountain villages. While the pandemic hindered my ability to return home to Australia in my holidays, living in Europe afforded me the opportunity to travel to the Greek Islands, Austria, Hungary, France, and Switzerland and catch up with some fellow Old Boys also studying abroad.

My final two years of medical school took me across the Atlantic to undertake my core clinical rotations at Swedish Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Training in a hospital located in one of the most diverse postcodes in the United States, provided me with an enriching learning experience. I learnt from patients with incredible stories, who spoke languages I had never heard of, and I saw rare diseases that are typically only read about in textbooks.

Outside of the hospital, I was able to experience the vibrant food and sport culture of Chicago, including watching the Cubs, Bulls and Bears play in their historic stadiums. I was also fortunate to experience other cities and healthcare settings, including presenting my research at the American College of Gastroenterology Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, and completing elective rotations at both the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and at the Case Western Reserve Program in Cleveland, Ohio. I’m looking forward to continuing my medical career in Chicago as my studies have culminated in securing a residency position in Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center commencing this June.

A sincere thank you to the Churchie Foundation, the Old Boys’ Association, and my family and friends back home for their tremendous support of my international studies. While the last 4 years has presented many challenges, it has been an incredibly fulfilling personal and professional experience and I have gained many lifelong friends and mentors. I encourage all Old Boys to consider studying overseas with the support of this scholarship whether it’s for 6 months or for 4 years.

This year Churchie Foundation is again awarding the Old Boys Overseas Study Scholarships. Applications are now invited from Old Boys and current Year 12 students wishing to attend colleges or universities in the UK or USA. The application process will close on Wednesday 31 May. To find out more information and/or apply for a scholarship then please click here.

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