|Visiting period||September to December 2016|
|Visiting university||University of Cambridge|
|Visiting country and region||UK|
Content of the study program
I took part in a short, 95-day exchange program at the University of Cambridge in the UK through the Top Global University project (SGU). Under the tutelage of Dr. Michael De-Volder, who leads the Nano Manufacturing group, and Dr. Ronan Daly, who leads the Fluids in Advanced Manufacturing group at the Institute of Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, I completed my portion of research with generous support from my colleagues.
My research focused on the development of an electrochemical glucose sensor using multi-wall carbon nanotubes and a paper device. This topic was possible through guidance provided by Dr. Michael De-Volder’s group, which specializes in carbon nanotubes, and Dr. Ronan Daly’s group, which specializes in fluid behavior and micro-channel devices. Additionally, expert researchers gave me a crash course on electrochemistry, which was a new topic for me. Although it was difficult because I was learning in English, it was an outstanding experience. I did not miss a single weekly meeting with the research group, and due to the presentations of my own research to the group, I am much more comfortable speaking English in a research setting.
My experience abroad
It was quite a shock because I had no prior, long-term experience living abroad. However, about 70% of my team was born outside of the UK. Thus, I was able to learn about the cultures and customs of various countries. Although we represented diverse backgrounds, we all spoke English. I experienced the difficulties of communication in English in a sophisticated work and research environment. Aside from me, my team consisted of only Ph.D candidates and post-doc fellows. Fortunately, they supported my research as I was the youngest and the sole Master’s student. Outside of the research group, I felt that there were many foreigners with interest in Japanese culture or who have visited Japan. Being an exchange student in the UK allowed me to immerse myself in a setting and live a life that I could not in Japan.
Influence on my future career
My 95-day stay in the UK and the friends I made with people from around the world have changed my outlook on what I value in my career. I realized that I would remain ignorant about many things if I stay in Japan. Based on my experience in the exchange program, I want to work abroad to meet more foreigners and hone my English language skills. I believe that becoming fluent in another language will help me to better express myself, understand others, and make it easier to build relationships. I also want to participate in another exchange program during my time as a graduate student because I want to further strengthen my language skills and improve myself by learning techniques and methods through relationships with highly intelligent people at universities like Cambridge that are not readily a vailable in Japan.
I am grateful for the opportunity provided by the exchange program. The financial support provided by the program allowed me to live comfortably while abroad. There were many Chinese students at the University of Cambridge, but only one other Japanese person. I believe that enhancements to policies that support foreign exchanges for Japanese students like the SGU will provide new avenues of advancement for many Japanese students. Living in a foreign environment has opened my eyes to new perspectives that I would not have had otherwise and helped me discover my passion.