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Cambodian dentist upgrading her skills at Japan university

Dr Kong Kalyan (fourth from left) with her classmates in Japan.
Dr Kong Kalyan (fourth from left) with her classmates in Japan. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Cambodian dentist upgrading her skills at Japan university

Roomchang Dental & Aesthetic Hospital dentist is working on her PhD in dentistry at a leading Japanese university

Post: Could you please introduce about yourself and your profession to our readers?
Kong: My name is Dr Kong Kalyan. I am currently a second year PhD student at Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan.

How long have you been a dentist? When did you start working with Roomchang Dental & Aesthetic Hospital?
I worked at a private clinic for one year before I moved to Roomchang in April 2008. In April 2011, I received a scholarship to continue my education in Japan. So, I was allowed to temporarily suspend my work at Roomchang. I am still employed at Roomchang, but am currently on leave.

Right now, you’re one of several Cambodian dentists who has received a scholarship to study dentistry in Japan. How did you get this scholarship? Who sponsors it?
One dentist has already received a PhD from Japan and there are four other dentists studying in Japan now. Two of us received the scholarship via applying through our university and four of us ended up getting our scholarships via the Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh, through which we applied. Regardless of where we applied, everyone’s scholarships are sponsored by the Ministry of Education of Japan.

What’s the main focus of your studies? How long will you be studying for this degree?
I study at the Department of Cariology and Operative Dentistry. The topic of my research is dental adhesive and etching material. It takes four years to complete a PhD course here. But I have began working as a research student for an additional year, so altogether I will spend five years. I am now in the second semester of my second year. I have two years and three months more to go.

You have worked and studied in many different places. What are the differences between studying in Japan and Cambodia?
I can say that I am very lucky to have this opportunity to study in Japan. Here, the facilities are more than sufficient. We have laboratories and equipment, a big library and online journals available – the university subscribes to those journals for us. In my previous experiences, my university in Cambodia did not provide that. So, we don’t have problems with accessing new information. Moreover, professors, associate professors, assistant professors, lecturers and seniors are knowledgeable and very helpful. The tuition fees and cost of living here are both more expensive than in Cambodia, but I don’t have any problems in that regard, as I am on scholarship.

Could you please share some experiences about what it’s like to live and study in Japan?
Living abroad is very interesting for sure. I have an opportunity to be exposed to different cultures, as I am in my university’s international department. I have met many new friends from countries including Poland, Jordan, Iran, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines.

Living in another country opens our eyes to the world. Now I understand more about the role of the dental profession. We do not have only to treat the patients, we also need to educate them about the importance of oral and dental health, to help them understand what materials we are using and why we are using them. We also need to do research to improve those materials and techniques so as to improve dentistry on the whole.

Life in Japan is very challenging due to the large population and high educational standards. Moreover, to be an effective researcher, I need to work very diligently.

What new experiences and surprises have you encountered while living in Japan?
Well, it is very cold for me now, as I am accustomed to living in our hot country. However, I have become more adapted to this weather. The thing that I like the most about Japan is the public transportation. It is very safe and convenient at all times and places. Good public safety is also the thing that I always appreciate the most here in Japan.

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