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兵庫医科大学医学会

Clinical clerkship at Hyogo College of Medicine

Marko Mikolčevićさん(第6学年次)

I first found out about the student exchange to Hyogo College of Medicine in Japan from a group of friends who wanted to, but couldn't go. Prior to that, I have often thought about visiting Japan and its beautiful culture and nature, but I've always planned for it to be later in life and as a tourist, not a student. I quickly decided that this was too good of an opportunity to pass up, got all the paperwork for my application ready and sent it to my college's foreign exchange office hoping that I would be accepted. And just like that, in a few months, I found out I indeed was.
In the following months, prior to my departure, Japan and all the experiences waiting for me there were constantly on my mind. When I found a little free time from my school duties, I researched plane tickets, the metro system and tourist attractions of this incredible country. Time was moving quite slow as I awaited for my arrival to Tokyo, Osaka and then Hyogo. Even though it was the middle of a hot summer, skyscrapers and temples, not beaches and sunbathing, were on my mind. As it so often is in life, August 16th (the day my flight to Tokyo was departing) came a lot faster than expected and before you know it, I was packing my suitcase and saying goodbye to my family and my hometown to embark on the biggest (and longest) journey of my 23 year long life.
After landing in Tokyo and spending a few days there doing mostly tourist-y things and trying to take in as much of its culture as possible, the three of us (Ruben and Mila are my senior colleagues from Rijeka) boarded the Shinkansen to Osaka where we were picked up by the wonderful and friendly students from Hyogo College of Medicine named Mayuko and Takuya and taken to a traditional Japanese dinner to a nearby restaurant to get to know each other and get some rest from our train ride. In a few hours, a taxi took us to the house where we would be spending the next four weeks, just across the street from the hospital where we would be studying and practicing a field of medicine each of us chose.
Mine was plastic surgery and my mentor was the incredible professor Kakibuchi. I have to admit, when I was first taken to the department, I was a bit nervous. Will they like me? Will they think I'm smart and talented for this part of medicine they have spent years and years working in?, Will I make any friends? were the questions going through my mind, but after a few minutes, I was extremely relieved because everyone, from the nurses to the professors, were incredibly kind and welcoming.
My first day, which was a Monday, there was an interesting and complex surgery taking place and one of the assistant professors, doctor Kawai, took me to the operating room and willingly answered any and every question I had about the procedure. I thought to myself that I must be off to a great start of this clinical clerkship.
And, thankfully, I was right. The very next day, a locker with my name on it was assigned to me so that I can leave my personal things and hospital clothes, as well as a desk to do some reading about upcoming operations and practice my suturing skills. Whenever I had a question, whether it was about something medical or just a piece of advice, every single person from the Department of Plastic Surgery was more than willing to help.
The following weeks, I spent half of my days at the outpatient clinic where I had the chance to see so many different types of people and their medical conditions, witness some smaller surgeries in local anesthesia and talk and bond with doctors from the Department who I now consider to be my friends and mentors. The other half was spent in various operation rooms of the Hospital, watching and assisting in very interesting, complex and cutting-edge surgeries I wouldn't have been able to see anywhere else and haven't yet seen during my studies in Croatia.
Since we didn't have to go the hospital on weekends, we spent traveling around the beautiful country, Japan. Ruben, Mila and I visited Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Osaka, among others, and enjoyed every minute of it. The history of Kyoto, the modern dynamics of Kobe, the peacefulness of Nara and the metropolitan feel of Osaka were simply indescribable in their beauty and I will cherish the memory of them as long as I live, although there's nothing more that I want than to re-visit them.
Although four weeks seemed quite long at first, they surely flew by. Before I knew it, the date of my departure back home came and it was time to start packing again, this time struggling to fit all the beautiful things I bought along the way in my suitcase. It was definitely bittersweet. A part of me loved Japan so much that I would gladly have stayed longer, but I did start to miss my family and friends, so as I was boarding my flight, I was a bit torn.
A person is only given a handful of incredible opportunities in life that they should take without too much thinking. I feel like embarking on a clinical clerkship to Hyogo was (one of) mine. The people I've met, the places I've seen, the things I learned, the skills I acquired and the memories I made were absolutely unforgettable and priceless and I'd like to thank everyone, from the doctors and nurses to the administration and students, for making all of that possible for me. I will never forget it!
Japan, I miss you and hope to see you soon!

研修中の様子

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