Mr. Yuji Endo, a first year student of the Master Program of the Graduate School of Computer Science and Engineering at UoA has finished his three-month research (from September 29 - December 24) at University of South Carolina, South Carolina, U.S.A. on UoA's International Short-Term Study Program for Academic Year 2008.
Here are reports on his research and daily life in U.S.A.
After finishing his three-month research at University of South Carolina
My study-abroad experience at the University of South Carolina, USA, ended December 22 just in time for me to return to Japan for Christmas. Time since my return has gone by so quickly, so now my trip feels like it happened such a long time ago. I miss everything already. Those three months were kind of long; however, now it all seems like a dream.
I got used to the life there about one month after I had arrived. I attended classes every Monday to Thursday, had a seminar in my lab (Arena for Research on Emerging Networks and Applications) on Fridays, and then went out with friends on Saturdays and Sundays. My time was filled with many new and interesting experiences. In the laboratory, once I made a 30-minute presentation about my research to native speakers. Also in the last half of my stay, I discussed and carried out some experiments related to wireless sensor networks (my specialty) with a PhD student there. In the laboratory, I had to discuss my studies and ideas very logically and precisely in order to be understood. It was hard but a very good learning experience for me. Besides, it was worthwhile that I could help them by sharing my experiences and perspectives with them, and we could learn together by solving research problems as a team.
There were Indian, American, Chinese and people from other backgrounds too, both in the laboratory and among my friends. It was such an interesting experience to live in such a multicultural environment. Through daily conversation and communication with friends via practical English (which differs from the English in Japanese textbooks), I could realize as an actual experience that English is an essential tool in people's lives. Also I realized that there is so much variety among the people in America, and this gave me an opportunity to think about my own identify as well as the role of Japanese people in the world.
During this study trip abroad, I always tried to keep my mind active for spending time as fruitfully as possible. I went to church in America, heard live entertainment in bars, and even went skeet shooting. I was also able to experience American life in other regions as well, such as Florida and Washington D.C. after traveling by car for so many long hours. I could encounter many different cultures, scales, climates and people in America and all of this became a very precious experience for my life.
Thanks to this program, I could obtain so many valuable things. The goals that I had from before I went (research, learning English, and seeing another cultures) were satisfactorily achieved. Moreover, I could improve my aggressiveness courageously by challenging many new things and studying American characteristics. Although I was willing to challenge many things on my own in this strange country and culture; however, I was helped so much by the many people I met during these three months and was able to establish very nice connections with them. I really appreciate the staff in the Center for Strategy of International Programs at the University of Aizu who gave me this opportunity. Also, I can't thank enough the staff and professors who took care of me, my friends there in America, and all the people I have met throughout this project.
A regular report from University of South Carolina
November 7, 2008
It has been already one month since I came to University of South Carolina (USC), Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Though I departed from Japan in the early morning, I arrived in USC at almost midnight after my internal travel in Japan and 14 hours of flight, running back the 13-hour time difference from Japan to USA. That was a really long day, long travel. I have three main goals to achieve during my stay at USC, studying and interaction with students from USC about my research, constant practice and improvement of my English skills and experiencing and seeing first-hand other cultures that I have never seen before.
I spent almost the first couple of weeks going through procedures to be accepted into USC and preparing and arranging my new life here. My real work began from there on. Now I'm auditing three courses. Two are about networking, and the other is about information security. In each week there are two classes per course. The main difference that I feel here compared to Japan is how well communication between teachers and students is established. Unlike Japanese one-way lectures, teachers talk to students watching their faces. Students, on the other hand, also always think by themselves and ask teachers immediately when they have questions. There is no one who is bored or falling asleep. I felt it is very ideal.
I spend most of the day studying in the laboratory of Dr. Srihari who accepted me in this program. The laboratory is mostly comprised of Ph. D students. There are many students who are Indian or Chinese, so there are many languages spoken in the room. The concept of USA as a "melting pot" can be truly seen and realized in this room.
Through the introduction by my senior who had been here, I got many friends of Nihon club in USC. I spend my free time with them. After their work on Fridays, they start to have a lot of fun on Saturdays and Sundays. They take me to many places, and I'm learning many things about languages and cultures from them.
The most significant problem I am faced with here is still English. I always feel keenly my lack of vocabulary in listening and speaking, especially when I have meals. For instance, there are so many foods that I don't know their names. I can't understand many times what clerks are saying, and I don't even know a lot of morals and cultures here. These matters are really bothering me. Even in conversations with my friends, I often miss what they are saying or I can't explain my ideas smoothly, and I often get frustrated at myself. On the other hand, however, these complications I am faced with remind me that there are a lot of things I need to learn. I find new things to learn everyday, so I feel I'm spending truly meaningful life here. In order to make the rest of my stay more rewarding, I would like to actively try new things I can face here.