Faculty of Science and EngineeringWaseda University


Student Voice: MAELL Martin

From Estonia

  • Name
    MAELL Martin
  • Country/ Region of Citizenship
    Republic of Estonia
  • Graduated from
    University of Tartu
  • Department
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Doctoral)

MEXT Scholarship (Embassy Recommendation) honored student


How did you find out about Waseda University?

The first time I ever heard about Waseda University was actually 4 years ago, when I was a master’s student in the University of Tartu, Estonia.  Waseda was one of the few Japanese universities that had the inter-university cooperation agreement with the University of Tartu.  I applied to the “Graduate studies program”, did a 1-year exchange (2014/2015) and the rest is history.


Why did you choose Waseda University?

For my exchange I chose Waseda because it seemed an interesting option.  Also looking back, a key factor might’ve been that Waseda was pretty much the only university that offered a graduate program.  The rest, had only undergraduate programs.  The reason for coming back for doctoral course is because I felt very good doing what I did during my exchange.  I was graciously given an opportunity to the doctoral program here and as the saying goes.  I took the bull by the horns.


How did you get information for our program?

Most, about the programs, I learned during the exchange period.  That was when I really got saturated by the wealth of information and opportunities here in Waseda.  And there are many!


Did you have any concerns before coming to Japan?

I’m quite certain I did have some, but can’t really recall any.  I guess one of the biggest concerns that any new student, in a new foreign country has, is a financial one.  Tokyo is considered to have one of the highest living costs in the world.  Thus securing a steady income is necessary.  Fortunately enough there are good scholarship programs out there (e.g. MEXT, Jasso) which are good enough to survive here comfortably.


Have you had any difficulties when you started a new life here?

Most certainly, not going to sugar coat this.  But perhaps it would be better to see these “difficulties” more as an “obstacles to overcome”.  Almost majority of things in Japan operate in a different way than in Europe.  If one does not understand these cultural and/or bureaucratic nuances and doesn’t speak Japanese, then you are into some surprising moments.  For the better part it’s good to have a Japanese tutor or a friend who can help you out in tackling various parts of setting up your life here in Japan.


How is your life in Japan and Waseda?

My life here is very good.  I think the quality of your life, in anywhere really, is determined by the people you are surrounded by.  And in that regard I consider myself to be a lucky person!


What do you do in your free time?

Eat sushi and contemplate whether the polar bears would like ice cream.  Other than that though I try to discover Tokyo and Japan as much as possible (read: as wallet allows).  I really like going to trips and see new places. Recently I did Japanese driving license and now Japan is my oyster!  Also there is always so much going on in Tokyo for every taste, so boredom shouldn’t be a real issue.


How are the relationships with your supervisor and lab members?

I would like to think that they are good.  One of the driving factors in returning to Waseda for doctoral course was the very good relationship I had with my sensei (thank you my professor!).


Outline of the research

I study coastal engineering and management, which has many different pathways one can choose to focus on.  My main research interest at this time is to study how the extra-tropical storms under future climate change scenarios behave and how they might affect the countries in the Baltic Sea region.  This research is largely built on numerical modelling techniques.  Also, every now and then we conduct field surveys on disaster areas (e.g. tropical cyclones, tsunami, volcano etc.).


What is your career goal after your degree completion?

After receiving my degree I hope to work in the academia.  The idea of doing some meaningful research and (hopefully) contributing back to the society seems like a mighty fine idea to me.  At this early stage nothing is yet set in stone, however the general layout has been drafted.


Short message to the prospective students

in English

Stay strong, stay genki (happy) and everything works out!  Life in Tokyo (and in Waseda) is fantastic, however it’s not always a walk in the park.  Sometimes you have sad, sometimes happy days.  The struggles and perks are really the same, regardless where you live, but the only exception is that the people who you usually lean on are far away.  Starting a new life in a new country can be daunting for some, but only if you choose that mindset, so – stay strong, be genki and eat all the good food!


in Estonian

Elu Tokios ja Jaapanis on väga kirju! Võrreldes Eestiga töötab enamus asju siin risti vastupidi (isegi liiklus).  Kuid see ei üldse mitte halb. Kuna Tokio on ääretult suur linn, siis koguaeg toimub siin midagi.  Transport on mugav (va tipptunnid, siis nati kitsas) ja kiire.  Kindlasti, mis siin kasuks tuleb on Jaapani keele baasteadmised, kuna inglise keelega võib kergest jänni jääda – seega soovitan midagi enne õppida või siis kohapeal kursusi võtta.
Waseda kui ülikoolina on väga kõrgel tasemel!  Nad pidevalt täiendavad oma rahvusvahelisi programme ja võrreldes paljude teiste ülikoolidega on ta vast üks välistudengite sõbralikumaid.  Kui sa oled oma otsuse teinud ja valinud edasiõppimiseks Waseda ülikooli, ei kahetse sa kindlasti oma otsust!


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