3rd UC Berkeley, Stanford Part.3
My purpose of Short Visit Program was to learn directly atmospheres of the science study of the United States, especially of the mathematics study. I would write about some experiences in the U.S. mathematics departments and in the two campuses, which I have had through this visit.
First of all, I felt that the math department in the U.S. is very open to others, compared with Japanese math department. Schedule of most of seminars, including graduate smallscale seminars are on the web, and anyone can participate them freely. Since they opened glass doors in their seminars, I could see what they discussed about. Furthermore, many laboratory doors were open and I saw they talked about their research. And sometimes they have some events for the citizens. These make the departments very active. According to Professor Yamamoto, some mathematicians in Stanford work in companies for university vacation. I thought that it was possible because Stanford was private, and I should learn their active attitude.
Other features of the U.S. math departments were high rates of women, strong connections with philosophy and economic, and so on. For me, the language was the large difference between Japanese mathematics and U.S. one. In their seminar, they sometimes quoted English philosopher's word when they explained complicated equations. That was little shocked to me, but it became a good chance to recognize that English was important not only to chase logic but also to learn the background.
Secondly, my impression about University of California at Berkeley is that there were a good many lively students in the large campus. We couldn't visit north part of campus, though we go to many building, like Sather Tower, Sather Gate, University's Dormitory, and International House. Furthermore, there are some institutes around MSRI. We saw students with backpacks walking around vividly in the campus. Buildings have spacious rooms whose ceilings are on the very high position. (Ceilings in the dormitory are even on the high position!) A significant sight from the Prof. Jones' office is unforgettable for me. The idea of Jones polynomial should be natural for me in front of the sight.
Another campus, Stanford has calm atmosphere. I walked around many institutes built near Memorial Church, which has dark red roofs. Since they looked almost same, it was like a labyrinth to me. I talked with some students who were reading books in café; and I was impressed with their gentleness. But their study is very aggressive and they learn over their major.
Regardless of the remarkable contrast between two campuses, it was common that they are all kind. Prof. Jones made his time for me, and the students who discussed with us invited us for dinner many times and took us to SLAC Guest House in their car. A student in UCB talked and showed me the way to the destiny when I got lost, and I was sometimes showed the way by Stanford students. I had good time by their kindness and I appreciate them. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all staffs of International Liaison Office of Tokyo University Science Faculty.
The short visit program of School of Science gives us quite a great opportunity to visit overseas universities as undergraduate students. We visited this time two prestigious universities in the United States, UC Berkeley and Stanford University. Both universities are famous for physics, in particular for particle and nuclear physics. I participated this program to broaden my perspective as a nuclear physics student.
It was a precious experience that I could talk with Professor Yasunori Nomura and Professor Hitoshi Murayama in UC Berkeley, Yoshihisa Yamamoto in Stanford, and Tuneyoshi Kamae and Hiroyasu Tajima in SLAC. I was glad to talk with them about physics research and life as a reseacher. What is interesting is that lectures in PhD course deals with advanced materials, that students can fill up what they do not know in discussions with others in a couple of days, and that they absorb in their study with little recreation to survive competition in research. I found graduate schools in the United States “economically attractive” because the tuition is covered by professors.
We met some undergraduate UC Berkeley and Stanford students in person. We could inquire their plans for going on to graduate schools or for finding employment. It is interesting that many of them are taking double major, computer science and Japanese, for example. It was surprising that an American student who majored in computer science could spoke good Japanese. Exchanges of students in different environments did broaden my perspective.
I would like to thank you all for supporting this short visit program. I really enjoyed it and am concerned about continuing existence of this program.
How was the short visit program to me?
This short visit program was meaningful to me so much. There are two reasons for it. The one is that during the visit I was able to find what was lacking for me to become a scientist who receives international recognition. Besides special knowledge of physics or a speaking or listening skill of English, I found a definite, original viewpoint and deep background thoughts which supported the viewpoint were needed. I met many people who had various background and found that they had their own certain viewpoints and stated their opinions on the basis of the viewpoints. It was fortunate for me to find what is needed before proceeding to a graduate school. The other is that I broadened my horizons of the world. Because I have studied only in Japan, I found I have known little about foreign universities. I learned from the discussion with students of UC Berkeley and Stanford how different the educational systems of Japan were from American ones. These things involve information I can never get until I discuss with foreign students. It was so valuable experience for me to talk directly to undergraduate students of the US. Also I visited many experimental institutions and found that UC Berkeley and Stanford was very attractive place to do research. My hope to study abroad bacomes stronger and stronger. Finally, I had very good time to attend this program with other 7 students of School of Science. I am grateful to these members and all people who supported the program. Thank you!
Because I thought this visit must be the chance that doesn't come twice to see the university's academic research environment, level of students and budget for research of Stanford and UC Berkeley which are called one of the highest levels University in the world, I applied this foreign visit.
After I visit UC Berkeley and Stanford University, I thought Japanese university such as the University of Tokyo is as good as these universities.
On this visit, I talked undergraduate students and graduate students and listened in a lecture and I thought there are few differences between the level of students and lecture of USA and those of Japan.
In some sense, Japanese students are superior to USA students. But, compared to USA, there are few academic results in Japan.
I'd been thinking the reasons during this visit and I bring to a close three reasons.
The first is high grade students all over the world come to graduate school of USA. Two Universities we visited has lots of Asian students. Especially, in UC Berkeley, there are so much of students that I feel a half of UC Berkeley students are Asian. These students all over the world improve research level of USA.
The second is there are a lot of universities which maintain high research level. The two universities which we visited are placed within the region we can move about 1 hour or so. In Japan it is impossible to expect such a condition.
And the last is reinforcement of education of graduate school.
In the US's most graduate school, compared to Japanese graduate schools, students must take a lot of lectures and these lectures are well organized. I have a good chance to think good point and bad point of Japanese Universities by this visit. At last, I'd like to thank for professors who give me such a good chance and Gosho-san.
Thank you very much.
This time, I visited UC Berkely and Stanford university. When I walked in the campus, I noticed that asian students were more than expected. They have “Ameican Dream” and their families strongly support them. And they have the thinking that they are the leaders of their own countries. Besides,there many kinds of people,race or background. These things are very different from Japanese college students.
I was impressed that American students really study hard. There were many students studing something lying on the grass or sitting on the corridor during the break. I felt that there are many excellent students who study hard in the world. So, I have to study hard, too!
When I talked with American students, I got surprised that they often take double majors and science students were interested in economics. That may be “Before you are a specialst, you should be a generalist.”
I had a chance to talk with graduate students who graduated the undergraduate program at Harvard and came to Berkeley for the graduate program. In Japan, most students will be a graduate students in the same university where they graduated the undergraduate program.This is the big differene. Like us, American students were worried about whether to try to be a scientist or to work at the company.
Thanks to this short visit program, I could learn many things. For example,the difference between Japanese educational system and American educational system, the Japanese science research problem, the way of American laboratories,and so on.
I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who gas given me such an unforgettable opportunity.
I had several reasons to apply this program. First, I wanted to discuss with students in the same field and generation. Since I got prize in the invention contest in the University of Tokyo, I had an opportunity to attend WEC2003 held in Shanghai when I was in my sophomore-year. I could communicate with a lot of students inviting us. However, since most of them were students in literature who are interested in international communication, we were able to talk about mutual culture and life but could not discuss about mutual interest in science or future plan. It is true that it was nice time to chat with students in other countries, but I thought I could have spent much more meaningful time with student in science. Therefore, this program seems to be appropriate chance for me. Second, I thought if I stay in my field: molecular biology, it is likely that I will study abroad in near future. So I wanted to pick upon the atmosphere of university and lab in USA. Third, I would like to know the difference in higher education between Japan and USA. Lastly, since there are laboratories of my interest in both universities, I wanted to visit them.
Actually I attended to this program and could go through better experiences than I had expected. There are some reasons for this impression. For one thing, we could make deeper interchange with not only students who had discussion with us, but also students in each laboratory which I visited individually. The talks with them were very stimulating. For example, I was surprised to hear that it is typical for them to get their jobs after graduating Ph.D course or finishing PostDoc. At the same time they seem to be stimulated by our talks about Japanese university. For other thing, as I mentioned in my purpose, I could get a feel of the university in USA. In addition, I could find lots of distinctions between USA and Japan. As a student, I was interested in lecture in USA. Lectures with hot argue was impressive for me. Housing and foods, tuition systems were also extremely different. Large and artistic buildings and vast campuses were overpowering. I was keenly aware of the power of USA to have more than 10 of such universities. On the other hand, there were some points which are common in both nations. It was amazing for me that what students think and their ability seems to be the same as students in my university, though lecture styles are completely different. Also, there was little difference in facilities in each lab. Lastly, of course I had a good time when I visited labs and talked with PI.
Through these experiences, I got an idea what life as a researcher in USA might be. I also became able to estimate the worth of Universities in Japan and USA not by depending on books or the Internet, but by my own viewpoint. I wish I can offer my opinions to my friends. Lastly, I hope I can keep in touch with people who met through this program.
I would like to close my essay by expressing my best grateful to Faculties of Science and staffs and students in American university.
How do the research environment and science education differ between Japan and the U.S.? What cause the differences? How are the problems that are common to graduate students in Japan, such as job hunting and post doc, treated in the U.S.? These are the kind of questions that I had when applying to the short visit program.
Through the short visit, what I had to face was that the differences were caused not only by the difference in higher educational system but by the differences in the social structure between two countries. All the top ten schools in the U.S. except for UC Berkeley are private schools, and PIs have to gather grants from other research institutes and foundations. Not only are PIs required to accomplish impressive research but they are also required to have the ability to gather good grants. Also because the tuition and other expenses for graduate students in Ph.D program are paid from research budget, graduate students tend to be professional and have higher awareness than Japanese graduate students. Some students enter Ph.D program with fellowship from foundations. This is possible owing to the traditional culture of the rich contributing to academia in the U.S. I heard that most students go to different graduate schools from undergraduate schools, however, because there are only few schools with adequate research environment in Japan, Japanese students do not have the opportunity to be exposed to different environment and different perspectives. It was interesting to see how the differences in the social structure between Japan and the U.S. are reflected in the research environment and the awareness among graduate students.
The short visit program made me realize again the advantage of research environment in Japan. At the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, I heard that because the research trend is toward bioscience, the research budget for physics has been cut-backed and appealing that the institute would contribute to analysis of protein structure is the only way to gather expenses. Fortunately, the University of Tokyo is equipped with excellent facilities, and laboratory bankruptcy is rare so that research topics that may not be necessarily capable of gathering grants can last. However, because the University of Tokyo has achieved corporate status, there might be a change. Also, universities in the U.S. do not have master courses in Science but Japanese universities do and let students to see if they are suited for scientists. For I have always believed that the U.S. has better environment and system for researchers and students, I was surprised to be able to appreciate the merit of Japanese system. At the same time, by visiting Prof. Thorner's lab and talking to students and post docs, I have come to realize that their lifestyle is not much different from that of Japanese students. Japanese and American students spend their high school days differently but for the students with the same goal “to be a scientist”; there are no borders.
Finally, what inspired me the most were the conversations with American college students my age. I met a girl planning to go to medical school after graduation, a boy planning to work as a consultant in Japan and so many various students. They are, like Japanese students, troubled with same issues, such as selecting a research topic, career, and challenge. Some have found their missions in their lives and some are still searching, just like students in Japan. I met a post doc who told me that although he is not sure of his position after three years, he is still enjoying his research. Just to discover that though Stanford campus is beautiful and the library at UC Berkeley is impressive, people living there are real “worrying over the same issues and enjoying their everyday lives ” was a rich harvest from the short visit program.
I would like to thank the University of Tokyo, the Faculty of Science, and the staff, faculties, and students of Stanford and UC Berkeley for giving me this opportunity I would also like to offer my sincerest gratitude to Ms. Gosho and eight students for making this trip valuable and memorable. I hope that this program would continue to be a trigger for many students to expand their perspectives and experiences.
At the beginning of March 2006, I visited UC Berkeley and Stanford University as a representative of School of Science, the University of Tokyo. It was the first time I visited the United States, and I could learn a lot of things through this opportunity.
First, I could visit five laboratories I was interested in. At each laboratory, the Professor told me about their current research, the motive to begin the theme, and the system of the graduate school in US. In some laboratories, I also had chances to talk with Post docs, technicians, and undergraduate students. As far as the Plant Science course, the environment of laboratories is not so different from that in Japan. However, I felt that students in US work on their research with more sense of purpose and accomplishment than those in Japan.
Second, the discussion with students in US helped me to understand both about US and Japan. In the discussion, we talked about the higher educational system, the campus life, job hunting and so on. I was impressed by their high debating skills and the double major system. They told me that most of the students in their university were majoring two or three subjects during undergraduate program. On the other hand, almost all Japanese students are majoring only one subject and continue the one throughout their academic life; undergraduate program, graduate program, Post doc, and after getting the post. Moreover, it is common in US to make a carrier change, whereas people in Japan tend to settle down in a permanent job. I found that getting a lot of experience is highly regarded in US, and they are good at taking a multiple approach to solve problems. In contrast, stability is emphasized in Japan, and we are good at carrying the work through patiently. I think both are important, and we should introduce some of their good points.
Third, this program was a good opportunity to communicate with students from different field. As I am a biology major student, I have less opportunity to talk with students belonging to other science major. While we visited two universities in US, we could see some institutes of physics and talk with the professor and students there. The stories of physics or astronomy were difficult for me, but I could understand some because students answered my questions politely. At the same time, I had to explain introduction of biology to them. So I had to reaffirm what I wanted to do.
During this short visit program, I met many people and learn a lot of things. All of these are important experiences for me. I would like to make use of the experience to study my interest and to express myself. In addition, I want to tell my friends about my experience and give them much imformation to act grobally.