Life and studies in Japan
Text by Md Nazial Kadir, IMLEX student of the cohort 2021
It has been nearly 7 months since we, the second cohort, started our semester in Toyohashi. The semester began with all of us making adjustments to the massive differences that TUT had to offer compared to the institutions in Europe. However, while very different, our time here has not been any less eventful!
Before we arrived in Japan, we were assigned to particular laboratories within TUT. Most of us were uncertain what exactly being a member of the lab would entail. Over time we learned that each lab follows their own ‘culture’ of sorts. Some labs followed regular online meetings, while others required weekly physical meetings and presentations. Acclimatizing to these cultures was a slow process, often because communication was somewhat difficult with our knowledge of Japanese, but it was a fun process nonetheless. The labs themselves are equipped with high end hardware and facilities to support all manner of research.
Our courses at the university were quite rewarding themselves. The classes focused more on assignments instead of exams which meant the coursework was very hands-on and allowed us to practice the material well. In the ‘Case Study in Imaging and Light and XR’ class we conducted a basic psychophysical experiment in VR as groups and gained an insight into how some of these experiments are conducted in research projects within the university as many of our thesis topics follow similar procedures.
As opposed to our universities in Europe, TUT is located quite a ways away from the central city, here being Toyohashi. While Japan’s convenience stores are always at hand, the campus itself is surrounded mostly by cabbage fields and sparsely populated suburbs. This meant most of our days were spent within the confines of the university, which may sound somewhat isolating, but it also means we were always surrounded by our peers. We had an incredible time making new friends and partaking in activities. Surprisingly enough, despite the language barrier most Japanese students are keen to socialize with us and learn about our cultures and experiences. TUT also promotes several student bodies that regularly organize events where we get to mingle not only with other foreign students but Japanese students as well. One such regular event is called J-Talk, where students get together and are separated into groups to play games and have fun discussions. There are also events within the city of Toyohashi that invite people from all cultures to join and share their experiences. These were great opportunities to practice the Japanese we learned and to improve on it.
After the semester it was time to work on our theses. Some of us returned to Europe, while others remained at TUT. As our time as IMLEX students draws to a close, we are hoping that the remaining months have many more experiences to cherish!
Text and Photos by Maazin Munawar, IMLEX student of the cohort 2021
The semester in France ended around June. Some of us did internships over the summer while others traveled or went back to their home countries.
The semester in Japan starts officially from October. It was amazing seeing the whole cohort together after such a long time. Right off the bat, the TUT campus is very nice and organized. All the main buildings are colored and numbered so it’s fairly easy to navigate. We all stayed in the accommodation inside the campus for International Students. We were all assigned supporters (mostly Japanese students from TUT) who helped us so much getting accustomed to the rules and regulations in Japan. There is a fair bit of paperwork we needed to complete as soon as we got to Japan so it’s better to be informed beforehand.
We got into the classes soon after. Some of them were on demand while some were in person. Classes such as 3D Vision and Computation were so much as got to do really cool assignments like 3D reconstruction and work on AR applications.
One of the best things about the Campus is that we had two rooms just for IMLEX students where we did our Case Study course. The rooms were equipped with high end PCs as well as VR headsets which were available to us 24/7. We spend a lot of time in these rooms for research or just tinkering with the headsets.
Before coming to Toyohashi, I thought it would be very hard to adjust to Japan culturally. But it was quite the opposite. Everyone here from the staff to students made us feel very welcome and always do their best to aid us in any way they can. We learn from each other constantly about each other’s cultures and languages. There are also quite a few events like J-talk on campus which allow Japanese and International students to interact a lot outside of class time.
Japan has been amazing so far, and as we are approaching the end of our program in IMLEX, we hope to make the most of the time we have left here.