Sakura Science Plan made me realize that you can be more than you think you can be in your career. Being able to experience Japan for a short time, Sakura Science Plan gave me a brief picture of the educational and cultural practices in Japan. Having that experience was very life changing because I benefit from it in a number of ways. In the educational side, it opened doors for my career. I saw the possible research that I can perform in Japan and the importance that it can contribute to the research community in my field. It made my career goals even bigger because I saw the possible fields that I can enter with my degree. With that, I started to mold my desired career path and here I was, performing research which is more than what I thought I will be doing in my student life. On the other hand, the cultural experience I had before made me more interested in the Japanese way of living. I was amazed by the love of Japanese in their historical events and ancient cultural practices which are treated with utmost respect and importance. To summarize, Sakura Science Plan was able to showcase the unique talents, interesting cultural practices and advanced research facilities and fields of study Japan has to offer. And that resulted to my absolute love and respect for this country.
My life in Japan can be best described as challenging, but worthwhile. Living in a country without the knowledge of their language is the most difficult part of my stay in Japan. This language barrier is humongous that it is inevitable in daily living. From riding buses to buying groceries, from asking directions and to expressing interests, I cannot elaborate more how hard it is to communicate. But, I was lucky to have Japanese classes offered for foreign students and I am very proud to say that I can now have basic conversations with the Japanese. Yes, it is hard to learn but by accepting the challenge this barrier gave me, I was able to break it and it made me feel very accomplished. However, during the first few months of my stay, this language barrier affected every aspect of my life in Japan. Building relationships with the laboratory members and other Japanese students was almost impossible. Nevertheless, with their knowledge of few English and mine of Japanese, it became less and less of a burden. With regards to food, I cannot express how much love I have for Japanese food. Sushi, ramen, okonomiyaki, tonkatsu and the list goes on and on. But if one is a cooking type of person, then looking for supermarkets with the desired ingredients is the challenge here. Of course the local ingredients in one’s country may not be available in Japan, and that is where creativity kicks in and where substitutes can be made. Also, I have made my stay in Japan even more fruitful by scheduling trips during my rest days. Having visited areas in Kyushu, Kansai and Hokkaido gave me a picture of how Japan looks like from various prefectures. In other words, I took the challenge to make my life in Japan as worthwhile as it can be, and I made it work. I feel very proud and satisfied with my educational and cultural experiences here, and it will all depend on how one will view their stay in this country. You can view it as a burden, or you can kick start it and make it the most unforgettable experience in your lifetime as a student.
If I would have a message to the juniors, it will be this quote: “If a shadow is casted upon your path, it means that there is light somewhere.” Negativity is always present in any decision we make and any career we take. However, we can only take hold of our lives if we will focus on the positive things. We should not let the world control our lives, we should be the one responsible for it. Thus, we should not focus on the darkness we are currently facing. Because there is surely a source of light if we will only continue with unwavering determination. Lastly, the best contribution that we can make in our career, or in anything in the world is positivity. The world is already full of positive things, they just depend on the way we view them. But if you really cannot find anything positive, then be one. And this will give you a life lived worthily.