In July we waved goodbye to the second cohort of doctors from Ningbo University, China, who completed their 4-month training programme in medical education with us. Thank you to all staff and students who contributed to this, the visitors learned so much from their stay. Two of the visitors, Joey Zhu and Cherry Hao, gave us their own thoughts on the visit in their own words…
In 14th March 2014, after a 13-hour flight the 16 doctors with different specialties set foot in the mysterious country of the UK. We were very excited instead of tired even though we could not fluently introduce our aim and destination in English when we passed the airport examination. I would never forget the first day I came to London. A big dog appeared when the landlady opened door for me, scream naturally coming out from my throat. Three cats also lay in the living room, one of which has black hair and blinking eyes, frightening me nearly to death. At that time I could not imagine how I would get along with these animals in the following period because I was afraid of all animals.
When the first morning sunlight shined through thick curtains onto my face, I could not still believe I had been in London away from my home and daughter. Slight desolation did not stop us from exploring novel things. Under the guidance of Google and tube maps, we experienced the complicated and convenient London transportation from Zone 3 to Zone 1. Then we came together to the UCL campus which is very different from Chinese universities. In China the campus is all surrounded by walls with obvious landmarks. But except the main building we had seen before in the website, we found it difficult to identify which building belongs to UCL. All of us enjoyed the cruciform building with typical Baroque architecture style whose roof looks like lightning rod. We could not help taking lots of photos of this building from different angles.
The next day was the first time we met UCL teachers. From my original perspective, British people should be reserved and strict. However, their warm reception, which made us feel at home without any uncomfortable feeling, thoroughly changed my bias. I felt increasingly confident in the learning and communicating program with their sincere help. With time flying, our facial expression during courses changed dramatically from initial vacancy to later confidence, which could not be made sense without UCL faculty. Through English and presentation training, we learnt some skills with regard to how to make our audience engaged and build interactive relationship between teachers and students .What attracted us most was some difference in the teaching course, such as horizontal and vertical modules, communication skills, OSCE, peer-assisted learning and so on. In the clinical work, because of limitation from GMC, it is not allowed for us to contact patients directly. The only thing what we could do was to observe the way in which consultants communicated with students and patients. I felt greatly surprised when I first went to my clinical mentor’s antenatal clinic because she saw only five patients in 4 hours and it seemed like they were familiar with each other for a long time. Sometimes two consultants simultaneously appeared in the clinic room to make diagnosis and management for one patient. The phenomenon would absolutely not take place because China has such a large population. One doctor sees at least 40 patients in clinic in the morning and so impossible to have extra communication except talking in terms of disease. Learning model of students were very different from China’s traditional spoon-feeding teaching method. UK students learn medical knowledge by themselves utilising medical resources from website and Moodle. Just like a coin has two sides, the self-learning method has its own advantages and disadvantages. From my own perspective, it is better to combine the two different teaching model to build up a reasonable teaching method suitable for students.
Except learning UCL teaching skills, we were more interested in the history and culture of UK. Travelling is believed the best way to understand a country. More than ten years had passed since we graduated from medical university so we were so excited to experience the life as students without work pressure or economic trouble. Every holiday was fully utilised to enjoy the scenery of UK and breathe fresh air in countryside. Places of historic interest and scenic beauty in UK are beyond count. During Easter holidays, we visited Windsor Castle, Cambridge University, York Minster, Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Alnwick Castle and Garden, the University of St Andrews, Edinburgh. Not only the classic architecture and beautiful scenery but also some ancient legend such as the ghost underneath the Loch Ness, the loving story in Gretna Green and the old singing Loch Lomond in opera Waterloo Bridge left us an indelible impression. It was a waste of time to spend weekend at home so we visited some famous place around London including Rye, Brighton, Seven Sisters, Bath, Stonehenge, Cotswold and Cornwall. Stretching coastline, clear blue seawater, lavender hill and dale, Bourton-on-the-Water, white steep cliff and flocks of sheep inspired us unlimited reverie. At the beach we sang Chinese song the Sea and recorded a video. Ultimately we had forgotten the aim of travelling, not appreciating the scenery but playing together like a child. At last we drew a conclusion that life is a mirror reflecting your smile if you smile at life.
How time flies! When our affection had been poured into the great land, we must say goodbye to our dear British teachers and friends. It is our firm belief medical knowledge and advanced experience from UCL would become a footing stone for the good relationship of UCL and Ningbo University and the two countries.