Hello! My name is Natsumi Hayashida. I am a fourth-year undergraduate student from Nursing, School of Health Sciences, Nagoya University. Many of my fellow students may not be aware of some incredible opportunities to study abroad. They may also not have a clear understanding of what happens during such programs. I would like to share my experience in the Student Exchange Programme at the Alice Lee Center for Nursing Studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It took place between 28 August 2023 and 1 September 2023. By describing my experiences, I hope this helps my fellow students who may hesitate to study abroad. Through this program, I developed several academic and professional skills. Additionally, I broadened my horizons, honed my language ability, and acquired a broad view of my education and career. Anyone interested in studying abroad should consider applying to this program.
During my stay in Singapore, my fellow exchange students and I attended lectures and toured hospitals and historical sites. NUS provided each of us with a "buddy", an NUS student. We were also lucky to join several other fun activities with our friends.
In 2021 and 2022, I joined the online exchange program provided by NUS. Due to the pandemic, this was the only option available. But through this program, I enjoyed talking to NUS students. This experience sparked my desire to visit Singapore. My goal was to immerse myself in the life and education of NUS. Although I was happy to visit Singapore through the online exchange program, my enthusiasm was highest for the one held in person.
During the program, I experienced life as an NUS student. I went to classes, participated in discussions, and had lunch with friends. Learners always participate in class, responding promptly to the professor's questions. The preparation of both the instructor and the students for each lecture was impressive. Students learn proactively and show great joy in academic discussions with friends.
Another difference from Nagoya University is that NUS students often interact with students from different faculties. As a result, I found them to be receptive to a wide range of ideas and less entrenched in their mindset. Engaging in conversations with people from various academic backgrounds helps to foster students' ability to think with greater freedom and openness. In Nagoya, I tend to interact primarily with students studying medicine or health sciences. My experience in Singapore prompted me to consider doing more to meet students in areas outside my major.
On programs like this, one cannot avoid reflecting on the similarities and differences between Singaporean and Japanese health care. Both countries have rapidly aging populations and a shortage of healthcare workers. As a result, both countries are concerned about community healthcare.
Student exchange programs are amazing because they inspire you to reflect on multiple strategies to solve comparable problems faced by different nations. Learning from the experiences of other countries is crucial to improving the current situation. From my lectures at NUS, I learned that in Singapore, every resident has their own neighbourhood nurse. It is a great idea because it facilitates access to health professionals. In addition, these nurses can take personalized factors into account when promoting the health of residents. This is an impressive conception of a community-based health care system that I hope Japan will consider one day.
The part of the program I enjoyed the most was meeting other students. Even for a single week, I was so impressed with the people I met during my stay. Along with befriending students from NUS, I also met other international students from Hong Kong and Taiwan. We talked about life as a nursing student, clinical practices at home, and career opportunities. It was so refreshing to discuss the similarities and differences between our cultures and professions.
During my stay, Nagoya University Professor Hiroshi Imaizumi invited me to visit the Nagoya University Global Campus in Singapore. He introduced me to several other students from Nagoya University studying at NUS. As the only student from Japan and Nagoya University in the exchange program for nursing students, I was apprehensive. But the kindness of the people of NUS and the support from Nagoya University were encouraging. I hope that the partnership between our two organizations will continue to grow in the future.
Venturing abroad may require you to be brave. However, the opportunity to engage with people of diverse backgrounds makes it worthwhile. Such experiences help you develop as a person. As for me, I will build on the experiences in Singapore, continuing to pursue my studies, and looking forward to my next opportunity to go abroad with less hesitation than before.
By Natsumi Hayashida, December 2023