Monday, April 11, 2016

TOEFL is more than an English exam

I have to take TOEFL which is a test often used for measuring English skill of non-native English speakers applying for universities in the US. Even though I am not going to a school, I need it to become a pharmacist here. It is very important for pharmacists to have good communication with patients and doctors so they need to use English fluently. I agree with that. However, TOEFL is very tricky. I heard that even average native speakers can get score 80 out of 120. Many international students are required to get around 80 for entering their universities and over 90 for some good graduate schools.  I am required score much more than that.

In the test, you have to listen to university levels of lectures for 5-10 minutes each and then answer questions about the lectures or write those summaries and your opinions. Please think about it. Do you remember all the details if you are not familiar with or not interested in the topic? Can you write a good essay within 20 minute?  Can you make a good one-minutes-speech just right after you asked to state your experiences or opinions about something? I cannot do that even in Japanese.

This is more than just an English exam. I have to prepare for it seriously.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Changing my career~ I want to be a pharmacist in the US

Becoming a famous scientist was my dream when I was a college student and even younger. So I went to a graduate school, got my PhD in medical science and came to the US to do research. Since then, I have been working as a biomedical researcher for more than ten years in the US. I wanted to be a scientist because I thought that I could help people by discovering new drugs or treatments for diseases. In a reality, however, I do not feel like I am helping people. Although I made some important discoveries in basic science, I think I made them just for my own satisfaction. I was disappointed and decided to change my career to something that could let me help  help people more directly. Since I have a pharmacist license in Japan, I started thinking about transferring the license to the US so that I can work as a pharmacist here.

For transferring my pharmacy license, I first have to take an exam called FPGEE, foreign pharmacy graduate equivalency examination. Since I graduated my pharmacy school more than 15 years ago, I do not remember anything I learned from the school. Besides, there are many more medicines sold now and there are different health care systems here from Japanese ones, so I have to study new things, too. Of course, I have to learn everything by English!

Anyway, I still wanted and started studying. I still have my research job, so it is hard to do both of my work and pharmacy study. But I study at least two hours per day for weekdays and six hours per day for weekends. I work hard! It is not easy but actually I found myself likes studying those things.

Eight months later...

I finally took the exam last week. It was extremely difficult! I even felt like I was taking the wrong test. All of the questions were very different from what I expected. Materials I studied never covered those questions. They seemed to come from other planets!
I was so discouraged. I studied hard, but what was that? I am going to fail the exam... How should I prepare for the next time?
Actually, everyone who took the test is saying the same things.

Anyway, I have to wait for the result for eight weeks. Cross my fingers...