Paniti Acharait is a first-year Tokyo Tech student and already has his life planned out. He has committed himself to a decade of study, until he obtains his doctorate in computer science, after which he plans to return to his home in Thailand to teach.
"I've long wanted to come to Japan ever since visiting here on holiday with my parents when I was a youngster," says Acharait, who is from Bangkok. "Besides learning about computer science, I'm also interested in how society here functions. The Japanese are so organized and they work so efficiently. I can learn a lot here."
Courtesy of a Thai government scholarship, he chose Tokyo Tech on the advice of his high school advisor. As a freshman, he is taking a variety of courses and must decide on his major in his second year. "There aren't enough professionals in computer science in Thailand, especially working in embedded systems. So I want to teach this at university level when I return."
The Japanese language, particularly the written form kanji, has been a big challenge for Acharait. "I studied Japanese for a couple of months before coming to Japan, then in a Tokyo language school before entering Tokyo Tech. Still, in the beginning, it was difficult following lectures in the classroom, and I had to study my own Thai and English textbooks to keep up."
Another challenge came when he decided to rent an apartment, rather than live in a university dormitory. "Understanding the rental contract and the rules and so on was very difficult. And just knowing how to contact the utility companies to get electricity and water turned on was a challenge!"
One thing that hasn't proved difficult is making friends. "The students here, everyone, are really friendly, so I don't feel homesick at all. I'm also a member of the Folk Song circle here where I sing and play the guitar. It's a lot of fun, especially when we give live performances."
Acharait is impressed with the number and variety of clubs and circles to choose from at Tokyo Tech. "I thought everyone would be so serious and think only of study, but actually I've found there is a good balance between study and extracurricular activities."
Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin No. 29 (February 2013)