JSPS Summer Program

Past Programs

June 13 – August 23, 2017

  • Learning some Japanese would be extremely beneficial, even above what was offered at SOKENDAI. Your PI may speak English but you cannot be sure that other researchers at your institution will.
  • Expect a cultural shock and embrace it, this is why you did this fellowship anyway (to experience something different). You only have 2 months so live it to the fullest, travel, connect, organise activities outside of school and the lab, etc...
  • Followup and make sure your accommodations are what you are expecting. Research culture is fantastic.
  • I think that studying Japanese before participating in the program is helpful.
  • I was quite intimidated before leaving for Japan, however, I found people in Japan to be extremely hospitable and accommodating. This extends beyond my own research institution, even strangers in public would quite often offer assistance if I looked like I needed it. This is an extremely unique opportunity, enjoy it to the fullest.
  • Make sure you are respectful to the different culture and don't be afraid to try new things including food, drink and travel! Bring cool, breathable clothes and an umbrella for the hot and humid weather. Try to learn the basic phrases in Japanese as it is so nice to communicate with people and they really appreciiate if you know a little bit of Japanese.
  • Make sure your host understands the undertaking that is hosting. I feel that the person I worked with didn't understand my goals or his role and I was therefore left alone with no direction for the first 2 months of the program. Communicate, communicate and communicate.
  • Take advantage of the time you have. I've done 10 week summer programs before and I always counted down the days until I could finally leave. But here in Japan, I looked at the calendar one day and panicked because I only had 4 weekends left! It went by so fast and there's so much more I want to do, both culturally and research-wise. If I had the opportunity, I would come a few weeks earlier or leave a few weeks later in order to do a little more. HAVE FUN and travel when you can. Go sightseeing, take a lot of pictures, try on a Kimono/Yukata, don't be afraid to try new things!
  • Try everything once. Don't say "no" to new adventures and experiences. Learn how to recognize loneliness and make friends. Be insistent when you offer your seat to strangers on the train and don't be that guy who sits down when there are elderly and/or parents with children who are standing. Be polite and use google translate often when you're unsure. Don't be shy about speaking the language, try and try harder.
  • When living/working abroad, you just have to fully embrace everything even if it would normally make you uncomfortable (e.g. food!).
  • Ask your host researcher to prepare access to the university library for you in advance, as it takes several days.
  • Don't pack too many clothes or supplies.