JSPS Summer Program

Past Programs

June 11 – August 21, 2013

  • I was given advice to never say ‘no’ to an invitation to do an activity. Interacting with Japanese people makes your impression of and experience in Japan much different and better, in my opinion. I would also recommend this to others. Japanese people can be quiet, especially when talking in English. Be sure to probe them with questions so that you don’t do all the talking. Try to fit in at your workplace. Arrive when other people arrive and eat when they eat, even if it’s not your usual habit.
  • When I go to a restaurant, I get the tiniest cups for a drink! I just want a cup big to actually use. I know it's a small thing, but it grates on you after a while. I get the smallest amount of tea possible, I swear.
  • It is difficult to find deodorant.
  • Be absolutely open and flexible to all experiences. Let your guard down and enjoy the beauty of the life and scenery in Japan. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. This trip will change your life for the better.
  • Learn key Japanese phrases -start practicing earlier than you think you should! :)
  • Japanese people are very nice, but shy. It helps to just put yourself out there. Two months is going to fly by; make the most of every moment.
  • I felt more of an introduction to Japanese culture/society may have been beneficial. For example, knowing that crossing your arms or sticking your hands in your pocket is rude. Maybe just a short introduction to some main societal/cultural difference from American culture to Japanese culture might have been helpful.
  • I would strongly suggest studying Japanese (maybe getting language books and CDs) a bit before you come to Japan. The few short classes you have during orientation definitely won't make you fluent, and some prior studying would probably have helped me out a lot.
  • Study the language as much as you can. My only regret was my inability to communicate.
  • Take advantage of your time in Japan! Both in your research and your opportunity to experience a different culture.
  • If your research for the summer is well planned before you leave, you can get a great deal of data in a very short time, a great cultural experience, and get to work with an expert in your field.
  • Try your hardest to learn as much Japanese as you can before you come.
  • Do it and try new things.
  • Prior and extensive communication with the research host is key. Specifically as much as possible. I would recommend starting working on your research project prior to coming to Japan.
  • Have both research and personal goals and do everything you can to accomplish these goals. You have only a short time here in Japan, so make the most of it.
  • You get almost 600,000円 from JSPS in addition to your NSF stipend! That was a pleasant surprise.
  • Say yes to every opportunity.
  • Ten weeks is short, try everything.
  • Lab attendance is a bit different than in the US. Even if your work does not require you to physically be in lab doing experiments, you will be expected to work in lab (for example coding, or reading/writing papers). Japanese students do not really work from home, which results in longer hours spent in lab. The work load however, is not different, just where/when you’re expected to do it. Also many, if not most, Japanese students come to lab on Saturdays.
  • Take time to enjoy the country, it is a wonderful place. Work hard.
  • Make sure your host researcher knows exactly what you need for equipment, previous data, or anything else the project requires. The host researchers are very busy people, and although they will have time to read your project description they might not have time to guess what you want them to provide.
  • Do not overlook the importance of networking and enjoying life in Japan throughout this opportunity. One of the most important things you learn in international studies is that you cannot get by without the help of others. Remember to keep a good attitude and work ethic, you are representing not only your lab and university, but your country as a whole.
  • Two important considerations: Japan does not tend to have public trash cans, and it does not tend to have paper towels to dry your hands in bathrooms. I would advise carrying a personal hand towel as well as always having a grocery bag for trash when you are out in a city.
  • Try to speak Japanese, even a little, people will really appreciate your effort!
  • Plan and discuss research with host institute thoroughly so that both parties have realistic goals from the project. There is not a great deal of time and settling in takes time so lower your expectations in terms of the data you expect to produce. Make sure you take every opportunity to meet and talk to Japanese colleagues, the friends and contacts you meet will be more important in the long run than two months worth of data.
  • Take advantage of all the opportunities to travel and embrace the culture. Try to speak basic Japanese even if you are not confident in it as the locals enjoy that you try.
  • Try learning some Japanese before coming, and learn Katakana – it will be useful, guaranteed. Make the effort to maintain contact with other people on the program.
  • The first week is very intense – be prepared for it (you might not get much sleep). Japan has a lot of similarities to the UK so don’t worry about culture shock.
  • I would recommend looking for a host researcher before you apply to JSPS, as even if you are unsuccessful, they may still be able to help fund your trip! My experience is that Japanese researchers are usually very happy to have foreign researchers come into their groups, and there is a lot to be gained from both sides. I certainly have learned to be more careful and considerate in the lab and my research has benefitted a lot from this experience.
  • Most of the Japanese don’t speak English. If you don’t speak Japanese, to be understood, you have to use your mime skills. Take two pairs of slippers, one for your accommodation, and the other for the lab!
  • I think it is essential to know his host teacher before coming in Japan, for a better experience and more efficient research.
  • Don't take pullovers, they won't save. Take Japanese classes, go out in Japan, speak Japanese to Japanese, try to read a little about Japanese history, its good for understanding today's things.
  • Japanese food is not just sushis! There are so much to discover and two months can not be sufficient to try everything!
  • Be prepared for a very intensive orientation week with not much time to yourself. Traveling in Japan is nice, so definitely try to do that. But don’t forget to just take in daily life: wander around your city, sit in a café, visit local sights, too. Especially if you are not situated in one of the major tourist hubs, there is still plenty to do and enjoy. However, also be prepared to work long hours and spend a lot of time at your research institutes. Not every fellow can just take days or weeks off to travel, even though they may have made it sound like that at the orientation.
  • Talk to your host researcher in detail, what to expect of this two months! It would be even better to talk about this beforehand.
  • I was very happy to stay at a ‘social apartment’ (www.social-apartment.com). I liked its mix Japanese and foreign residents, its diversity in age and profession, and how people were very open and eager to communicate in English. I would recommend future participants to consider staying at one.
  • Learn Japanese before!
  • Go to Japan! It's amazing! Let yourself be integrated, as you will be, if you want! It is very useful to Skype with your research host to clarify the research plan, the working conditions, the time schedule and to get to know each other personally beforehand.
  • Make sure you get to know true Japan-and fall in love with it!
  • Japan is pretty cool but everyone is so quiet. I wish I had someone to yell at me and be rude so I could feel more at home sometimes.