An increasing number of students from abroad are taking advantage of the diverse range of educational and research opportunities available at Tokyo Tech.
Two international students, Angie and Max, who are pursuing advanced degrees at Tokyo Tech through the popular, English-language taught International Graduate Program, appear in the new two-minute video, Study at Tokyo Tech.
In the interview that follows, the two students discuss their experiences at Tokyo Tech, their advice for prospective students, and their plans for the future.
The excerpts that follow have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Maxim (Max) Jourenko
Angelina (Angie) Hartanti Wahyu Dewanti (Indonesia)
Maxim (Max) Jourenko (Germany)
Angelina (Angie) Hartanti Wahyu Dewanti (Indonesia)
Angie: Tokyo Tech is one of the best engineering schools in Japan. My professor at Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia recommended I pursue my master's degree here. I knew a Tokyo Tech education would help me become a great engineer.
Max:Four years ago, when I was in the first year of my master's degree, I came to Tokyo Tech as an exchange student through the Tokyo Tech International Research Opportunities Program, TiROP1. At that time, I chose Tokyo Tech because it was one of the Japanese universities that had a partnership program with my university, RWTH Aachen University in Germany. RWTH Aachen and Tokyo Tech continue to have active exchange programs, and it is nice to meet many students from my former university here at Tokyo Tech.
Angie:Tokyo Tech and my undergraduate university also have many partnership and exchange programs. It's important that universities have relationships with each other.
Max:Another reason why I chose Tokyo Tech is its location. Tokyo is very exciting.
Angie: I agree. Tokyo is very different from Osaka or Kyoto.
Max:Another very important reason why I chose Tokyo Tech is the financial support. TiROP covered all expenses for my exchange here, and now I am receiving a MEXT scholarship, which covers my tuition and living expenses. Even if you are not from a wealthy household, scholarships offer a good chance to get a Tokyo Tech education.
Aside from education and research, I really enjoy the extracurricular cultural activities offered at Tokyo Tech. As an exchange student, I especially liked the English-language performance of rakugo or traditional Japanese comic storytelling. It is great to be able to experience not just research but also the rich culture of Japan through university life here.
Max:I accessed the STAR Search2 researcher database through the Tokyo Tech website to find my academic supervisor. It gave me a good overview of the professors here, and I was able to search for the topics that interest me. After receiving research guidance from Professor Keisuke Tanaka during my TiROP exchange, I returned to his lab a few years later to pursue my doctoral degree at Tokyo Tech.
Angie:I knew I wanted to study about the production supply chain, so I started from the Tokyo Tech website to search for prospective professors. Through the Department of Industrial Engineering and Economics section of the website, I found my current academic supervisor, who is an expert in production, supply chain, and customer satisfaction.
Max:My background is in computer science. I am enrolled in the doctoral program in mathematical and computing science. My research field is cryptography, which can be considered part of theoretical computer science. More specifically, I am researching the scalability of blockchain technology and looking for ways to improve it.
Angie:My research area is supply chain risk management. Since I worked in purchasing for three and a half years in Indonesia, my research will be connected with purchasing and how manufacturer-supplier collaboration can help to reduce supply risk.
Max:Tokyo Tech professors provide students with journals and conference articles that are relevant to their research. The nice thing about the lab here is that there is lots of freedom to select your research topic. I also receive enough academic support and advice from my professor, which increases the possibility of success in my research area.
Angie:For example, we do lots of zemi, small-group seminars with members of our lab and our academic supervisor. At zemi, we present papers, give opinions, and have discussions about given topics. Our professor provides advice about how to proceed.
Max:Yes. Our professor advises us on what to do next and sometimes provides us with related materials to read to better understand a topic, especially when we are stuck. There is lots of guidance provided, especially for the undergraduate students.
Angie:Although most of my lab mates can't speak English confidently, they are very nice and funny. They can help me to practice my Japanese, and I help them to speak in English. The best thing about having Japanese friends is that I can experience everyday Japanese life, for example, by going to nomikai drinking parties together, and eating traditional Japanese food at Japanese restaurants.
Max:We often have lunch together with our professor in the lab, which is nice. We also have nomikai sometimes when we go to national conferences together or have anything to celebrate. Due to the language barrier, it is easier to make friends with other foreign students. Nevertheless, I made a very good friend in my lab with whom I only speak Japanese-although my Japanese is very limited-because I asked him to teach me shogi, a form of chess played in Japan.
Angie:I am a member of the Tokyo Tech Indonesian Student Association and TISA3, the Tokyo Tech International Student Association, and these activities really help me not to feel lonely living away from my home country. Also, the Student Support Division is very helpful for international students.
Max:There is good support for international students. New international students in the first year of a degree program are each assigned a tutor who is a student from the lab and helps with life in Japan. This is especially helpful when going to the city hall to register your residence and apply for Japanese health care.
Angie:I currently live in the Tokyo Bay area, which is about a one-hour commute to the Ookayama campus. That area is very beautiful and great for running, which I enjoy.
Max:Travelling in Japan is nice. I have visited several cities in Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan. In Hokkaido, especially in Otaru and Hakodate, the natural environment and architecture are very different from that in Tokyo. I also enjoyed visiting Kyoto and Nara for three days at discount price through a student trip4 organized by Tokyo Tech.
Angie:While living in Japan, I enjoy being exposed to traditional culture and high technology at the same time.
Max: It is important to submit a neat and complete application. Be sure to use a spell checker and present it properly to pass the initial screening process. Also, when you explain your motivation, you should be specific. Including examples from your own experience is always helpful.
Angie:You have to know your research topic well before applying. The research proposal should be very firm. Identifying the right academic supervisor is also important because it will impact your success at Tokyo Tech. Besides preparing for research, my personal advice to students who plan to study here is to be ready for the culture shock!
Max:That is definitely true.
Angie:Yes. You have to be open-minded to adjust to the differences.
Max:If you just sit around in the lab or at home and spend your time there, you will miss out on so much. If you have an opportunity to travel, then travel. If there is a chance to try a tea ceremony, then you should try it. You should enjoy and experience as much as possible while you are here.
Angie:I plan to return to Indonesia because my scholarship requires me to go back to my country after graduating from Tokyo Tech. I plan to work hard to develop and improve my country using the education and experience I gain at Tokyo Tech. Learning industrial engineering in Japan is helping me to get good insights of Japanese manufacturing, and those insights will help me to propose improvement methods for Indonesian manufacturing.
Max:After finishing my doctorate at Tokyo Tech, I will probably stay abroad. I would like to continue to see the world. I am considering to either go to Switzerland and do a fellowship at the lab where I did an internship or try applying to an international company I find interesting. I can also imagine monetizing my specialist knowledge and working to create a start-up.
The content of this article was accurate at the time of the interview in June 2018.
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