I am Haingomaholy Michelle Rakotondravao, a Ph. D. student from Madagascar studying in Material Chemistry at Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan. I am thankful to our professor for giving me this opportunity to share my life experience in Japan to AFOB readers.
I came to Japan four years ago to complete my master’s degree under a scholarship program offered by JICA. Upon my arrival, I have been given a month to adjust to my new life. When I left home, I was expecting that once I spoke English, life won’t be that difficult. Unfortunately, almost 95% of Japanese people do not speak English at all. I was terrified, clueless of what I can do to accomplish even a simple task like buying foods and paying my bills. However, with the help of the International Affairs Office of the university and the great understanding of my professors and lab mates, I did not struggle too much. I was lucky to have them by my sides. Later, I adapted the lifestyle, and everything was running smoothly.
About my student life, the struggle was way beyond my imagination. I knew that upon its start, I needed to modify my research proposal to another one more adapted to the current experiments already in progress at the laboratory. After discussion with my professor, I started a new topic about protein chromatography, a topic that I only knew generally about from a course I took in my early year of university. I had to learn everything from scratch, and in English while my study language for my entire life was French. Thanks again to the patience of my professor, I could do my experiment greatly and graduate after two years.
Furthermore, when I questioned about my future after my Master graduation, my professor, once again, offered me the greatest opportunity to pursue a Ph. D. course with a full ride on scholarship from the Japanese government. It was a new door that opened for me, and I could not reject it. Now, I’ve entered my last year of Ph. D. course and I can’t be any prouder than how I have come so far. Hopefully, I could graduate next year. I know life can be a roller coaster, everything won’t always be in favor of what we want it to be but it is worth it to go out of our comfort zone so we could discover new horizons for ourselves.
I'm Nguyen Hieu Nghia, a Vietnamese student of PhD course at Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT), Japan. It's a great honor for me to have a chance to tell my talk for AFOB members.
Professor Jun-ichi Horiuchi visited my university, Vietnam National Ho Chi Minh City – the University of Science, in 2017, where I worked as a teaching assistant. He gave a talk about the effective production of single-chain Fv antibodies using recombinant Escherichia coli. His research inspired my interest at the moment, and I was fascinated by it. Fortunately, I received a MEXT scholarship not long after that, which allowed me to start PhD course at KIT in 2019 under the supervision of Professor Horiuchi.
Since then, I've been studying toward my doctoral degree in Japan for more than three years. When I arrived in Japan for the first time, I was shocked by the Japan's modern railway network. My home country, as you are aware, is still under developing since the end of the war in 1975, and public transportation is still primarily based on motorcycles. I hope a contemporary transportation infrastructure similar to Japan's can be built in near future in Vietnam in order to support economic growth. Most individuals throughout the world, including myself, have learned a lot from Japanese society about the ideals of harmony, order, self-development, perseverance, and hard work. In terms of research, I can work independently based on my own initiative, and my supervisor supports for the research goals. I am currently working on the fed-batch culture based on the DO-stat feeding strategy to produce effective single-chain Fv antibodies using recombinant Escherichia coli utilizing a fully equipped and modern jar-fermentor system. Doctoral students may spend the majority of their laboratory time conducting research, and my day in the laboratory begins at 9 a.m. and finishes late at night. A doctorate student's life is also quite solitary, yet I am enjoying it. Every day, I enjoy conducting experiments to learn and generate new research ideas.
After all, studying in Japan allows me to see the world in a new light; it exposes me to a new culture, pushes me to develop my language abilities, encourages me to try a new type of education, and helps me find a better academic perspective while also widening my views.