Content of the study program
With the support from the SGU program, I worked at the research laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Claudio Zito at the University of Birmingham in the UK to conduct a research on soft foldable robotic devices.
Using a one-armed robot called Sawyer, I conducted research on dynamically folding towels, which are a soft material. This was the first time that I used a robot. It was quite the effort to handle both simulators and the actual machine. Only a few studies have investigated dynamically folding soft materials. Once I began working on the task, I realized its difficulties. I appreciated the friendly research environment where local doctoral candidates provided advice on how to proceed when I was stuck and answered my questions. I also attended weekly lab meetings to report my research and participate in discussions.
My experience abroad
The host of Airbnb was very kind. I had very comfortable stays. I basically cooked on my own, but this was stress-free due to the easy access to Asian food and ingredients. I joined a gym for exercise after school and on holidays. I really felt that the UK is a leading country of fitness where the gyms are outfitted with comprehensive options at a reasonable price. Many people from other countries lived in Birmingham where I stayed. Because each person spoke with a different accent, it was hard for me to understand them. On the other hand, I saw many people respect the value system of others from different cultures as they live side-by-side. I think this is a positive aspect of the UK.
Influence on my future career
Through my study abroad experience, I sincerely understood the importance of communicating in English. I became aware of the need to continue improving my English conversation skills so that I can communicate with foreigners in the future. My three-month stay in the UK boosted my confidence. Overall, my experience was very positive.
I deeply appreciate the support of SGU. Because I did not have to worry about the cost of my stay and travel, I could participate fully in the study-abroad program without psychological pressures. Japanese people tend to have problems with the English language. Because many lack confidence in English and hesitate to speak, we tend to create a wall unconsciously. I hope that many Japanese students can study abroad with more accessibility to support systems similar to SGU.