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‘The human body is so complicated, yet very organised, so I thought it would be really interesting to study medicine.’
Monica is currently studying medicine in her native Japan, but her English language journey started at a very young age and has taken her to the UK, India and the USA. In the future she plans to take the next step of working towards gaining a clinical doctor’s licence.
I’d always considered studying medicine, but it only hit me as something I could seriously pursue when I took part in an introductory undergraduate course in biology and neuroscience.
It really struck me how the human body is so complicated, yet very organised, so I thought it would be really interesting to study medicine.
Medicine is a field that evolves so fast and English is essential for success. All of the latest medical research is in English and I realised that if you want to learn new techniques you sometimes have to go and study in other countries.
While growing up in Kobe, in the south of Japan, I'd always studied English outside school. I went to Cambridge for a two-week summer school when I was 14. It was my first experience of many things – the first time I had friends from abroad to hang out with, and the first time I lived by myself, away from my parents.
English has helped me do things I didn't think I'd be able to.
I realised how little I knew about the world and that short experience triggered the desire to live abroad, so that I could grow more and mature.
That's when I decided to leave Japan and study in English at a high school in India. That's when things changed for me. It was hard for me to understand what was going on in class, hard to engage in conversation with friends, very hard to manage at all at first. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done.
But after maybe half a year I got used to the environment and become more comfortable and confident, and went on to study as an undergraduate in the USA. That's probably my proudest moment – I went from being in the bottom 10% of students when I joined to being on the Dean's List and in the top 10% during my time at school. I feel really proud that I was able to do that even as a non-native speaker.
Now I'm back in Japan, I am having more opportunities and choices than my friends. English has helped me do things I didn't think I'd be able to.
In the future I want to go more into research and I think it is important to have a clinical doctor's licence to bridge the gap between the medical and research sides. That's how I ended up studying medicine, and I'm now in the last year of a six-year programme in Japan.
About Monica Iwasaki
Monica has taken many of our Cambridge English Qualifications, including A2 Flyers, A2 Key, B1 Preliminary, B2 First, C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency, to improve her English step-by-step.
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Everyone has their own reasons for teaching or learning English. You can see more real-life stories at our sister organisation, Cambridge University Press.
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