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Top Global University Project: Waseda Goes Global - A Plan to Build a
Worldwide Academic Network that is Open, Dynamic and Diverse

Naomi OKAMURA

Portrait Visiting period February to March 2018
Visiting university Loughborough University
Visiting country and region Loughborough, UK

Content of the study program

For approximately one month, I was at Loughborough University in central England, where I pursued research into the measurement of muscle characteristics. I modelled and analyzed the data from verification experiments for methods of wearable sensing of the relaxation of muscles when stretching, which I am working on as the topic of my doctoral thesis.

Study results

Loughborough University has for two consecutive years, been ranked number 1 in the QS World University Rankings for Sports-related Subjects, where its interdepartmental efforts in sports and health sciences are thriving. Myself also, I pursued research under two supervisors: one of the Wearable BioRobotics Research Group within the School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing, an area close to my own subject, for device development, and one of the Biomechanics & Motor Control Research Group within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, for clinical application. Similarly in other major subjects, there is no small number of doctoral students attached to multiple advisors interdisciplinarily, and I got the impression that one is able to implement powerful research fusing various elements, under generous guidance. As well as considering the question of how one should evaluate measuring devices as an engineering-based thesis, it was significant that I was able to discuss the interpretation of phenomena based on physiological insight. I have previously experienced joint research with Waseda's Graduate School of Sports Science, but I felt blessed to be in an environment where I could have research discussions in multiple fields within the same campus, around which I could travel on foot.

My experience abroad

The questions I was often asked by my European friends were "Do Japanese people work too much? Is it true that people are praised for working to the point of exhaustion?" and "How do I clean fish for use in sushi and how do I choose delicious fish?" In the U.K., nobody stays in the laboratory past 9 at night, and everyone enjoyed the night as their own time. During my stay, I also experienced something that would be very unlikely in Japan; there was a strike by teaching staff, about the issue of decreased pensions, that lasted as long as two weeks.

I too, retained a lifestyle where I did no research after 5p.m. and tried to make time each day, to get together with my friends or to do sports. At Loughborough University, there is sports and fitness program run by volunteers, called MyLifeStyle; from 5p.m. until 9p.m. every day, one could experience a variety of sports, each for approximately 1 hour. I tried out netball, cricket and other such sports that are minor in Japan, which was also an opportunity to think about the development of these sports that I have previously been interested in, and about how Public Physical Activity should be.

In addition, I was able to have a cultural exchange, by doing an Easter egg hunt on campus, organizing meetings to play Japanese-style tag and to watch Studio Ghibli films, as arranged by the Japanese Society, and so forth.

Influence on my future career

Although there were some cultural differences, I truly felt that I was able to live a lifestyle even overseas. The U.K. is a multiethnic state, and I feel it is characterized by the fact that much research is implemented relating to differences in physical constitution and feelings, according to differences in cultural sphere and race. In the future, I would like to be a research and developer for health and medical devices, and I hope to take advantage of the connections I was able to make during this time studying abroad, to address the development of products that are tailored to a variety of countries and regions.

Other comments

I am thankful for this opportunity to be transferred overseas. Although it was for just a short time of around one month, I was able to have new experiences that went beyond the confines of my own research. Of course, it is important to pursue research and study abroad with a purpose, but because you can discover many things by just going overseas, I really want young researchers be sure to take the challenge of this transfer program in a lighthearted manner.