Student cultural exchange trip

Just after mid-year exams, seven Doctor of Dental Surgery students undertook a nine-day cultural exchange program in Japan, accompanied by Dr James Fernando, Dr Luan Ngo and Dr Cindy Nguyen. This was a golden opportunity to expand our horizons in the international dental community and strengthen the relationships Melbourne Dental School (MDS) has with dental schools in Japan.

Students meeting with Dean, Professor Chikahiro Okubo, at Tsurumi University.

Students meeting with Dean, Professor Chikahiro Okubo, at Tsurumi University.

Our trip began in Tokyo, where we were lucky enough to fit in some sightseeing before the official program commenced. We visited famous places around Tokyo including Akihabara, Ueno, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku, and stuffed our faces with Michelin star ramen, tonkatsu and yakitori.

Our cultural exchange began at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) in Ochanomizu. During our whirlwind stay at TMDU, dental students and researchers gave us tours of the facilities and introduced us to the structure of the six-year undergraduate Japanese dental course. We were fascinated to learn that the profession is separated into over 50 specialisations with a heavy emphasis on research, including cariology, periodontics, sleep dentistry and even space dentistry.

Next, we were fortunate to be guided through the Research and Development Department of GC where we saw their extensive product range, including some familiar CPP-ACP products developed by the Oral Health CRC under Professor Eric Reynolds of MDS.

Our next stop was Tsurumi University (TU) near Yokohama, a dental school MDS has a strong and lasting relationship with, made possible by the late Professor John Clement. TU often sends a group of staff and students to visit MDS (including earlier this year) and we were welcomed by familiar faces upon arrival. Here, we had a meeting with the Dean, Professor Chikahiro Okubo, as well as a guided walk through Sojiji Temple, a large Buddhist temple that shares the campus with TU. Spending time with the Japanese dental students was by far the best part of our trip, with many wonderful conversations, presentations and gifts exchanged.

This was truly a rare and valuable experience unlike anything else we have done during dental school. Being able to compare our dental cultures and meeting the incredibly kind and spirited people at TMDU and TU will probably remain our most memorable and heart-warming experience as MDS students.

Emma Liu and Lucy Wen
DDS second year students