Tokyo Institute of Technology actively encourages students to gain overseas experience by offering a variety of study abroad programs. These include short-term programs ranging from one week to one month, long-term programs lasting over one year, and International Exchange Programs under tuition waiver agreements. This wide selection enables each student to select the program most appropriate to his or her needs and interests, and is one of the great advantages for students at the Institute.
Here are three reports from Tokyo Tech students who participated in different study abroad programs.
I had admired Europe since childhood and always wanted to study there, so I decided to participate in this international research program. Another reason for my decision was my desire to work as a researcher on the world stage. Among the many universities, I chose EPFL because it actively brings academia and industry together and emphasizes joint research.
At EPFL, I studied the development of a drug delivery system because I wanted to conduct practical research. This field was a complete change from neuroscience, my original area of study at Tokyo Tech. At first I had a hard time because of my lack of knowledge in the field and the different research style at EPFL, but I was able to adjust to the new environment in about six months as I got more involved. I became more active mentally and physically, participating in discussions and learning experimental methods outside my laboratory.
I was surprised at how much I changed during my stay. In Japan, I was rather shy and was not good at interacting with others, but I became very outgoing at EPFL. Before I returned to Japan, my mentor at the laboratory said, "Chiai, you have changed a lot this year. Now you can do research anywhere in the world." I still remember her words clearly. I felt validated, and this made me happy and confident.
Advice to other students
By experiencing the dynamic environment abroad, you will find a change in yourself. The personal growth you achieve during the study abroad program will become an invaluable part of your identity.
Because I am planning to attend graduate school in an English-speaking country, I thought it would be a good idea to study abroad during my undergraduate years. I wanted to get a sense of the atmosphere at an overseas university and experience actual classes. With this in mind, my main aim was to take university courses. In addition, never having lived overseas before, I wanted to gain that experience too. I heard Melbourne is a multicultural city and I was excited about experiencing the diversity there firsthand.
The courses I took at the University of Melbourne were mainly related to mathematics. The pace of the lectures was slower than in Japan, and more time was spent covering each topic intensively. Like in Japan, students were quiet during lectures, but they were more active when participating in the assigned discussions.
The biggest challenge I faced in Melbourne was finding housing. While still in Japan, I was only able to locate a few places which were all expensive, so I started looking for a place after I arrived in Melbourne. It took about two weeks to find a shared house, but my efforts paid off. I had fantastic housemates and the house was perfect for me.
Advice to other students
It is important to prepare as much as possible before going abroad. Also, having a clear goal for your overseas study will keep you motivated during your stay.
I first started thinking about studying abroad when I felt the joy of communicating in English with people from other countries, but the uncertainty of living overseas held me back. It was when I found the TASTE program that I made the decision to study abroad. This program covers part of the cost of short-term overseas language programs designated by Tokyo Tech. In addition to the financial assistance, my choice was influenced by the fact that the program is designed specifically for English learners, and that it is a short three-week program. These three points encouraged me to make the move to study overseas.
I took a language course at the University of Washington. Students were required to discuss assigned topics in groups of four, write essays, and make presentations. For essay writing, we first analyzed published data on income gaps and then wrote an opinion essay which had to be supported by least two sources. It was challenging to find these sources, but the experience will help me when reading future research papers in English. For the presentation, each student was asked to speak for 12 minutes on a topic of choice. We were also required to interview 10 strangers in English for this task, which took some courage, but it was a good chance for me to overcome my shyness. In the end, I was able to make my final presentation with confidence.
Advice to other students
Being able to freely participate in a program like this is really useful. I really do recommend going abroad alone, even if for a short time.
For detailed information about study abroad, click Home > Current Students > Study Abroad.
Published: March 2015