Tokyo Tech encourages all its students to expand their horizons by studying abroad during their time at the Institute. In addition to providing students with a wide variety of options through its worldwide student exchange network, Tokyo Tech will implement the new quarter system from April 2016, making study abroad easier than before. Three of the Institute's students shared their experiences from around the world.
Studied at University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka from August 2015 to September 2015 for ten days
Program: Short Visit Program
I wanted to experience firsthand how the culture, learning environment, and infrastructure abroad differ from those of Japan. My English language confidence was low, but at the same time I wanted to address that issue, so I decided to join the Short Visit Program. I struggled to choose from all the options, but ended up selecting Sri Lanka, an emerging country currently experiencing a period of transition.
At the University of Peradeniya, I joined lectures on Sri Lankan culture and history, infrastructure, and the natural environment. I got the chance to view local factories. I was even lucky enough to visit two world heritage sites: Sigiriya Rock, a 1600-year-old palace constructed on a colossal granite peak, and Anuradhapura, a sacred city in the North Central Province of the country. Both the wisdom of humankind and the magnificent forces of nature I sensed at these sites were astounding. During discussions at the symposiums and exchange sessions with local students, I often had to ask for repetition or clarification, but at the same time I didn't feel a language barrier thanks to the warmth and friendliness of everyone around me. I truly felt that language was just one of many other tools we use.
I used to think of the "study abroad wall" as too high for me to climb. But after my experience, I can confidently say that my trip opened up new ground for me, allowing me to feel and think more deeply using all my five senses.
Studied at ETH Zurich in Switzerland from September 2014 to January 2015 for five months
Program: International Exchange Program
I witnessed the enthusiasm students possess at top American universities when I was a bachelor's degree student, and since then I wanted to study abroad. I decided to do so in the first year of my master's degree program. From the various options available, I chose ETH Zurich for three main reasons: It is one of the world's top universities. It has a Department of Management Engineering, which is my area of specialization. And lastly, it has a large diverse international student population.
To get accustomed to discussions in English, I selected classes which involved plenty of group work. The most memorable of these was the risk management class. I was paired up with a self-assertive student whose opinions rarely coincided with mine, but as a result I was able to improve both my confidence and speed when speaking English.
The tandem system, which allows exchange students to learn about the host country's language and culture by pairing them up with local students, helped me a great deal. And, I played the violin in the university's flash mob* performance! I was the only exchange student in the group, but the grace and openness of the local students allowed me to meet some truly fantastic people.
I could have never imagined the number of different nationalities I would come into contact with beforehand. My trip was a great chance to experience an array of cultures. To fully enjoy local life and make your study abroad experience a meaningful one, I recommend preparing as much as possible before your departure.
Studied at the University of California, Berkeley from August 2014 to May 2015 for ten months
Program: International Exchange Program
Ever since I paid a short visit to the US in the 3rd year of my bachelor's degree, I was fascinated by the idea of spending a longer time there. I wanted to expand the limits of my own world by learning with students from different cultures who possessed experiences and knowledge I myself did not. I wanted to know if I was lacking something. The perfect place to do this was the world-renowned University of California, Berkeley.
Aware of the fact that a very strong fundamental knowledge of mathematics and physics was required, I decided to take on the challenge of researching a theoretical field completely new to me. As our research group consisted of only four people, we were constantly able to get guidance from our professor. Unlike at Tokyo Tech, there were no experiments, which meant that my days were often filled with long hours of theoretical study. As I returned, I felt I had acquired knowledge in a field that I had not touched on at Tokyo Tech.
I lived at Berkeley's International House with more than 600 international students. Coffee Hour, an exchange event held once a week, was like a trip around the world as groups of students introduced their cultures. I made friends with students from various countries which are rarely represented at exchange events in Japan. We compared cultures, talked about the future, and studied and travelled together. I realized in the presence of this group of diverse people that Berkeley was a great choice for me.
Every day of your study abroad experience is new and exciting, but this experience is further enriched if you have a clear purpose. Select your destination according to your own goals, and then enjoy yourself through a combination of work and play.
All students are encouraged to visit the Tokyo Tech Study Abroad Fair to be held on April 20. Meanwhile, the Study Abroad pages provide detailed information on the opportunities offered by Tokyo Tech.
Published: March, 2016