Asian Medical Student Exchange Program (AMSEP) Malaysia-Japan
On 1st November 2014, five medical students from International Medical University, Bukit Jalil were given the opportunity to be the lead committee and travel to Osaka, Japan in relation with the Asian Medical Student Exchange Program (AMSEP) between IMU and Osaka University for 9 days. The purpose of this program was to provide cultural and knowledge exchange at an international level amongst the medical students. The five students – Ng Yen Wing, Mohammad Hazwan Bin Yuan, Ng Chang Ern (Ernest), Koh Khai Ling and Wong Zhi Xian, began their journey heading towards Kansai Airport, Osaka, Japan.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Mr. Kazushi Fujiyama, the local AMSEP Japan Director, and joined by Mr. Takeshi Sakata later on where we were efficiently accommodated and provided with great hospitality. We were then brought to the beautiful Suita Campus of Osaka University where we were given the opportunity to attend a lecture on statistics of cancer in Japan, by Dr. Tomotake Sobue. At night, we were brought to Nakanoshima (Central Island), a place where the river splits into a delta dividing the business and commercial areas in Osaka. Despite the cold temperature in autumn, the views were breathtaking.
This exchange program widened our perspective in terms of academics, especially as medical students. We were privileged to learn in one of the most prestigious emergency departments in Japan- the Emergency Department of Osaka University Hospital. Dr. Mituo Onishi showed us the advanced medical technology that they use for treatments (even in A&E departments), like the CT scan, X-ray machines and platform for emergency gadgets all converged in one room. Besides that, he gave us a lecture on disaster management (which was absolutely new to us Malaysians) and introduced us to the emergency management system called Disaster Medical Assistant Team (DMAT).
Apart from the hospital visit, we experienced another side of Japan’s healthcare in the rural areas at Dr. Tomoyuki Kido’s clinic in Itakano. We were briefed with high enthusiasm on the operation of the clinic, and the visit ended with casual conversation over a warm tea session and even warmer company. Moreover, we were also able to enter the Immunology Research Department of Osaka University. Professor Suguru Ishi explained to us about cell imaging under the state-of-the-art 2x photon microscope. Medical assistants were there to demonstrate the entire process to us, from preparation to the actual imaging. We were extremely honored, as Professor Ishi was amongst the first to develop the method of using cell imaging microscopy.
The days in Osaka were not only filled with academics but also undeniably enjoyable moments as tourists. We were brought to places such as Universal Studios of Japan, Osaka Castle, Dotonbori, Kyomitsu Temple at Kyoto, Umeda and Namba. Culture was amongst one of the many factors that attracted our hearts to Osaka and Kyoto. The people’s politeness was definitely admirable; our Japanese hosts and friends were more than glad to show us hospitality, even though language was, in the beginning, an obstacle to communication. Our Japanese friends told us that we were very fortunate to have visited Osaka at a time when the brownish-red autumn leaves begin to fall. In that kind of chilling climate (it even fell to 7 Celsius on the second night), we tried the mouth-watering dishes including okonomiyaki, takoyaki, kaiten sushi and matcha flavoured desserts, not forgetting the various fresh sashimi. We unanimously agreed that we had the best Japanese food during this exchange; we truly enjoyed each and every meal.
10th November marked the end of the journey. It was the last day, and we had to say goodbye to if not the best, then certainly one of the best cities that we had ever been to. We definitely are going to miss the friends that we made and the experience itself of traveling around Japan like the locals. We appreciate the chance given to us by AMSA, AMSEP and all the members that made this program possible. We are now looking forward to host the Japanese students here in Kuala Lumpur in March next year.
Written by: Muhamad Hazwan Bin Yuan & Ernest Ng Chang Ern