We all hate how short break is, but I was filled with anticipation and excitement about coming back to school this spring. Last Sunday kicked off my participation in the Rakuno Gakuen University Veterinary School Student Exchange Program! In May, there are six Findlay students, myself included, going to Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido, Japan. In exchange, three veterinary students from Rakuno Gakuen University have come to visit Findlay. Hitomi (a senior), Junya (a junior), and Aimi (a sophomore) touched American soil last Friday. They will be staying here for three weeks attending animal science classes and learning how we view and treat animals here in the United States.
When we met for the first time, we quickly hit it off. Although we live oceans apart and come from completely different worlds – we have the similar interests and goals in life. During these next three weeks, I’ll be helping them experience my world. On Sunday, we visited the Cleveland Zoo together. Our contact there, Becky Lauer, D.V.M. (UF ’10), is a graduate of The University of Findlay and the Rakuno Gakuen University Student Exchange Program. She is now a practicing veterinarian at the Cleveland Zoo. We followed her and toured the zoo behind those mysterious doors—the ones that say “Authorized Personnel Only.” We had the opportunity to tour the vet hospital, meet and talk to veterinarians, zookeepers, and researchers and even pet a rhino! (In case you wondered, they do not feel like metal armor, but like a car tire.)
At 9:00 a.m. Monday morning, I was sitting in Dr. Fell’s office with Hitomi, Junya, Aimi, and Grace (another student from Findlay participating in the program). They were nervous to meet the president of our university, but they presented themselves like pros! After we met with Dr. Fell, I gave them a two mile tour of campus. Yes, I know that we have a small campus, but I made sure they saw everything! When vet schools say that their students are tough, they aren’t joking. Hitomi and Aimi were in high heels the whole tour. Walking two miles in heels – now that is what I call tough! In the life of an exchange student, everything occurs according to a busy schedule. When I left them on Monday, they were really just beginning their day. The typical day of a Rakuno Gakuen exchange student visiting Findlay begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends after the sun goes down.
Japan’s veterinary program is very different than the one we have here in the United States. Here, we have four years of undergrad as pre-vet students and then four additional years in graduate school studying to become a veterinarian. In Japan, they study six years to become full-fledged veterinarians and they are in the veterinary program from the first year – much like our pharmacy school. Their class schedule is also very different than ours. I was talking to Junya about his weekly schedule and found out that his classes usually meet only once a week for one hour and they have about three to four classes in a day. Because of this, they are in many different classes all at once and have several exams and assignments to juggle. Junya told me that he once had eleven exams, in eleven different classes, all in one week!
I hope that you will continue to follow me through my adventures and be sure to tell Hitomi, Junya and Aimi, hello (or Konnichiwa) if you see them around campus!