The flight was long, the weather was hot and the place was crowded… but, goodness gracious, was it worth it. Although I have travelled to quite a number of countries myself, this has definitely been the best trip so far. While I had the amazing opportunity to visit Japan, I also gained experience on how pharmacy (which I love) and the medical system are embodied in a different country. I have made lots of Japanese and international friends, with whom I’ve exchanged experiences, information and ideas about various subjects: from healthcare systems and related problems to cultural behaviours and ethical beliefs. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit ABC and Ainz community pharmacies where the other exchange and I students had an interactive workshop on pharmacy and health matters which required us to prepare a presentation about our country; Osaka City University Hospital where we’ve been formally accompanied through the highly-advanced pharmacy, aseptic and cancer departments; Sawai Pharmaceutical Company where we had a tour inside industrial sectors for formulation, manufacturing and packaging; Osaka Pharmaceutical University where we visited the campus, the research labs and the medicinal plant garden and we even attended a herbal class during which we made traditional Chinese herbal medicines (Shiunko and Kakkonto)! The whole experience was further enriched by the brief, but exhilarating and fulfilling, side trips we did in Kyoto, Uji, Nara and Osaka.

Thanks to this fantastic Student Exchange Programme in Japan, I started to appreciate the profound diversities between European (UK) and Japanese cultures which made me reflect on the variety of elements and ideas that either countries have and lack, which are and would make a significant difference to the pharmacy profession. Whether the ultimate goal would be to unify pharmacy in the world or to keep competition between countries, the implied discipline is in continuing advancement with Japan being among the top countries which is effectively coping with technology and is flexibly accepting future progress.

Federico Girolamo Barbera, 4th Year Pharmacy at UCLan

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