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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

Takafumi ARAI

Portrait Visiting period November 15 to December 22, 2015
Visiting university Purdue University
Visiting country and region Indiana, USA

Content of the study program

Thanks to the Top Global University Project (SGU), I had the opportunity to join the short-term study program at Purdue University, Indiana, USA. For one month, I was a member of Prof. Chiu’s Mechanical Engineering Laboratory.

Study results

As part of the study program, I presented my research and provided feedback. I helped other laboratory members conduct experiments, learned about their research projects, attended mechanical engineering classes, and practiced conversational English by joining ESL (English as a Second Language) conversation groups. In addition, I learned how to write academic papers in English at the Purdue University Writing Lab.

For my research, I learned how to print gelatins at the micro-level and apply state-of-the-art printing technologies to my research. I also gave a 30-minute presentation on my research, which improved my presentations skills and inspired new viewpoints for my research through the question and answer session.

My experience abroad

This was the first time that I studied abroad for an extended period, and it was very stimulating. Almost 20% of the student body at Purdue University is international students, allowing me to learn the cultures and customs of various countries while staying in the United States. I initially found it difficult to communicate with other people as cultures and customs differ from country to country. Although I actively spoke with students from other Asian countries, I had trouble making friends unless we shared a common hobby or interest. Fortunately, I found that many people were interested in the Japanese culture, and I felt that we should promote traditional aspects and strengths of Japan more actively, so that people would feel more familiar with Japan. Overall the opportunity to study in the United States allowed me to learn English from native speakers and live in an atmosphere that cannot be experienced in Japan.

Influence on my future career

In terms of my future projects, meeting people from around the globe has had a profound effect even though I only stayed for one month. If I had not left Japan, I would have never noticed how limited my experience in the international community was. Thanks to this experience abroad, I realized that I would like to work abroad to meet more people and become more proficient at a foreign language. By immersing myself in a foreign culture and language, I will certainly be able to communicate better and make friends from diverse backgrounds. I hope to study abroad again before completing my studies at the graduate school as it will enable me to improve my language skills, meet highly talented people, learn techniques and skills that are not available in Japan and grow as a person.

Other comments

I am very grateful for the support I received in the framework of this overseas study program. The financial support made my stay very comfortable. Although there were many Chinese and Korean people at Purdue University, I only met a few from Japan. This has made me believe that if it becomes easier for Japanese people to go abroad, for example with the system that I used, there will be more possibilities in terms of future careers.

Additionally, only a small number of people obtain doctoral degrees in Japan, but the situation is quite different in the United States. The opportunity to study again in such an environment will help me determine my priorities and future goals.