I was given 5 weeks of ‘specialized elective course’ in my university, which is a program that students can freely choose an institute and supervisor to conduct research and get clinical or academic experience. I chose Campus Asia program since it provides financial support for staying abroad. As an undergraduate student in medical school, I wanted to learn more about the social function of medicine as prevention of diseases and support for communities. Japan is known to have more experiences for caring the elderlies and monitoring daily lifestyles to manage and prevent chronic diseases, so I aimed to observe such systems established in local communities.
I went to several field trips to see rehabilitation centers, local nursing homes, visiting nurses center, and health check-up center. I also experienced cohort research going on in Osaka and was able to take lectures about research in prevention medicine. I was able to compare the community care systems of Japan and Korea. Since Japan is suffering from more advanced stage of aged society than Korea, there were specialized managements for the elderlies. The visiting nursing care was more available to many elderlies and routine check-ups were well provided for residents. Furthermore, since local community care centers and cohort studies can collaborate to gather more data from the general public, the research infrastructure for public health and preventive medicine was well established.
It was not easy to adapt in Japan because the language was totally different and there were many times I cannot communicate with people in English. However, while staying in Osaka, I studied Japanese and was able to practice in daily conversations every day. As a result, I got more used to speaking in Japanese. I enjoyed traveling around Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, and Osaka and trying delicious Japanese foods. I believe tourism is one of the great power Japan has.
Since I visited in January and February, there were not many lectures to take in Osaka University. I only stayed for 5 weeks, so it was not easy to get involved in the cohort research. I had much free time to enjoy for tourism and study Japanese but had to set up my own academic goals while staying in Japan.
Others or some messages for future participants (100-200 words)
Learning Japanese is not essential for staying in Japan, but it will substantially boost experience in Japan. I was motivated to study Japanese while staying in Japan because there are not many people who can freely talk in English. Japanese people can obviously talk more freely in Japanese, speaking in Japanese can help learn more in detail, rather than brief explanations. You do not have to be perfectly fluent in Japanese, but the more you know, the more you will see.