October 13, 2021: Meeting with the Dean of the Medical Faculty of Comenius University and Japanese students

   Today I visited the Medical Faculty of a prestigious Slovak university, Comenius University in Bratislava. Together with the dean of the faculty, prof. MUDr. Juraj Šteňo, DrSc. and Vice-Dean, prof. MUDr. Boris Mravec, PhD., we held a discussion with Japanese students who study there. In recent years, the number of Japanese students studying at the medical faculties of universities in Central and Eastern Europe has increased. Already after visiting the Faculty of Medicine of the Pavel Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, which I visited in June, I stated that there are various factors behind this increase. The growing number of companies and agencies arranging overseas medical studies in Japan appear to be the most significant.
   Since September, about 30 Japanese students in total have been studying at the Faculty of Medicine in grades 1 to 6. For freshmen, the biggest challenge is to learn the English language, in which the teaching is conducted, as well as the Slovak language necessary for everyday life. In addition, as the practical training with patients starts from the third year, they are forced to master communication in Slovak at such a level that they are able to communicate with them. This is, of course, even more difficult. According to Vice-Dean Mravec, who is in charge of foreign students studying general medicine in English, there is an agency for foreign students from Germany and Austria, which is responsible for the administration of their studies abroad and provides them with active support if necessary. However, the Japanese agencies do not reach this level, so it was emphasized to me that if any of the students had any concerns or problems, they should not be afraid to contact the university directly.
   Graduating from Comenius University School of Medicine can be a huge challenge. In fact, many Japanese students are giving up halfway through. As they study medicine abroad and prepare for a responsible medical profession in which they have to use a difficult foreign language such as Slovak, I believe that they will be able to fulfill their original intentions.