Sentiment of studying in Nara Medical University Hospital Department of Neurosurgery

潘   冬 生

Japan, China’s neighbor, was both familiar and distant to me before I set foot on this land. Japanese cartoons and animations deeply influenced our generation of the Chinese people. Japan’s high-tech products fascinate us. My favorite camera Fujifilm X100 has accompanied me in many places. My family, especially my daughter, likes to eat the traditional Japanese food sushi. As a neurosurgeon, I am always eager to sharpen my technological capabilities. Japanese neurosurgical technologies are among the most advanced in the world. Three of my senior colleagues in my Neurosurgery Department, who have high levels of surgical techniques, studied in Japan many years ago. From their daily conversation, I got to know about the status of Japanese neurosurgery, and felt that Japan was where I wanted to go. However, when faced with the real opportunity of studying in Japan, I was still a little hesitant, because of my lack of experience abroad, as well as the strained diplomatic relationship between the two countries. Regardless, medicine should have no border. With the recommendation of Prof. Song, I came to Nara Medical University Hospital Department of Neurosurgery for a one-year study starting from the end of June 2013.

 Nara Medical University Hospital is located in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture. It is a large teaching hospital. The neurosurgery department of this hospital, which has about 20 Affiliated Hospitals, is one of the most famous neurosurgical institutes in Japan. Prof. Nakase, the chief of the department, is a prestigious and respectable neurosurgery expert.  Every doctor here has his major field and promotes research step by step. Most of them have the experience of studying abroad. They also attend many conferences every year. The number of conferences they attend may be several times more than the Chinese doctors attend. There are English paper sharing and discussion every week. These activities ensure the advancement of their research work. To be successful in the future, the Japanese doctors work very hard and very late every day. The conferences and other activities often take place during weekends. So they have little free time to spend with their families. Chinese doctors also work very hard due to so many clinical works. But most of us are reluctant to stay in the hospital when it is not the Working Hours. I have long heard that the Japanese are workaholics. My experience here makes me feel this spirit more deeply.

 The first problem I encountered in Japan was how to communicate effectively. However, this has no longer been a difficult issue since I found that many Japanese doctors are good at English. I have improved my English speaking skills little by little by daily conversation with them. I am also learning Japanese though I am still at a very low level. Thanks to so many words of Japanese kanji, I can understand the meaning of about 80% of written Japanese. I am always interested in Japanese culture and believe that language learning is the best way to understand the culture of another country. Learning Japanese has become one of my hobbies and I will persevere in it in the future.

 Kashihara is a small and calm city. I especially like the fall here with the beautiful red autumnal leaves on the banks of the rivers. I am also looking forward to enjoying the cherry blossoms in the next few weeks. I don’t have to worry about my living here because Prof. Nakase and other doctors and secretaries took good care of me and solved all the problems I encountered.  The guest house where I am staying is very comfortable. So, I can focus on my study and research. By watching various surgical procedures, reading academic papers and attending many conferences, I has benefited enormously. My teacher Dr. Tamura guided my research about the value of acute ECoG under sevoflurane anesthesia in temporal lobe surgery for epilepsy. I have learned much knowledge of epilepsy surgery from him. I have also learned a lot by discussing with Dr. Park, Dr. Motoyama, and other doctors.

 During my stay here, I have visited many cities of Japan. Japan is a well-developed country. The clean environment, the orderly and efficient traffic, the friendly and hospitable people deeply impressed me. So did the inheritance and protection of the traditional Japanese culture. China has an even longer history and an outstanding traditional culture. However, too many wars and political movements happened in China. It was a sad thing to see many Chinese traditions are drifting further away from us. The time I came to Japan is in July, it was just the Tanabata(七夕) holiday of Japan. People write their wishes on a strip of paper and hang it on the branch of bamboo to make it happen. The holiday originated in the Chinese lunar festival, when the stars Vega and Altair, who are in love but separated by the Milky Way, are reunited for one night. Nowadays, it is still a lovers’ holiday in China. It is quite interesting for me to see so many similar but different traditions in Japan. China is going through a very special period. Things are changing fast in China now. Some social problems have improved significantly. However, more problems have appeared and need to be solved. For today’s China, in addition to medicine, there are many other aspects in which we need to learn from Japan. I expect a prosperous and stable China. I also look forward to a long lasting friendship between Japan and China in the future.

 I’ll put the techniques I have learned from Japan into use after I come back to China. I’ll ask my Japanese teachers’opinions if I meet some clinical problems in the future. I will treasure the experience of studying in Japan and cherish the friendship forever.