Cassim – Japan

After failing to secure a place to study medicine following his A-levels, Cassim decided to take a gap year and worked in a Red Cross Hospital in Japan:

At first it all seemed like a dream. Six months in Japan on a medical placement, a substantial bursary,accommodation and a decent monthly allowance? This was the offer I received from Lattitude Global Volunteering. I was writing a new page of my life and little did I know that this would have an impact I could never have imagined.

I climbed to the summit of Japan’s highest mountain, Mt.Fuji (3,776 metres high) and saw a night sky I thought never existed, a glorious sunrise and the world beneath me. I tasted food I thought I’d never eat and found I loved it. I learned to speak, read and work in a language I’d never have imagined I’d learn. Japan truly deserves to be a hot spot for tourists, especially those with a keen desire to immerse themselves in such a different culture.

Once I had started working in the Red Cross hospital in the city of Nagoya I was amazed by the incredibly high standards of one of the world’s most powerful work-forces and I will always cherish the memories and the opportunities given to me.

Within 4 months, having picked up a significant amount of Japanese the Director of the hospital allowed me to work in the emergency room where I gained so much hands on medical experience that I knew I’d have no problem getting a place at medical school when I returned to the UK. It was truly a privilege to be trusted to work in such a challenging environment doing something I loved.

By the end of the placement I didn’t want to come home so I decided to extend my placement for another 6 months. Between these two placements, I returned to London for 2 weeks to see my family and attend an interview for a place at medical school that I had applied to while in Japan. The next six months in Japan passed a lot faster than the first and I adapted to the culture and lifestyle so well that by the end of my placements, I was nervous about coming home.

I sincerely hope others will take the chance to transform their lives into something so insanely wonderful that their former selves would beam with pride. To this day I am envious that my own country does not match up to the standards I witnessed in Japan. My only regret is that I had enjoyed myself to such an extent that I can’t help but crave to return to the country that transformed my life: Japan.

I am now back in London as a medical student – I know in my heart of hearts that my Lattitude Global Volunteering experience was the key that has enabled me to achieve my dream.