As part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Educational and Scientific Cooperation between Imperial College London and Waseda University, Keiichi Watanabe, a doctoral student enrolled in the Ph.D. program run by the Multiscale Analysis, Modelling and Simulation Unit, studied abroad in the Imperial College London’s Mathematics for Planet Earth course of the Centre for Doctoral Training project for four months. He was the first international student to participate in the program, and his experience was highlighted in the program’s website.
In the article posted in November 2018, Watanabe shared his point of view on what it was like to participate in his program. “The program provided me with a great opportunity to explore research topics other than mathematics and interact with students from a non-mathematical background,” he said. The article also mentioned how Waseda Professor Martin Guest visited the program during Watanabe’s stay.
Below, Watanabe shares his experience at the Imperial College London.
My reason for studying abroad
I stayed at the Imperial College London in the United Kingdom for 99 days from September 9 to December 16, 2018. This study abroad was made possible with support from the Multiscale Analysis, Modelling and Simulation Unit of the Top Global University Project at Waseda University. The reason why I studied abroad was to participate in a program geared towards master’s degree and Ph.D. students known as the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) course in the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), a project supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the United Kingdom.
The Mathematics of Planet Earth course in the Centre for Doctoral Training
Called MPE CDT for short, the program is centered on the keyword “geophysics,” and participants can interact with students from various backgrounds and attend lectures or participate in seminars related to geophysics. Although I specialize in mathematics, I conduct research on issues in geo-planetary science, and I decided to apply for the program because I wanted to deepen my understanding in my research’s background, especially physics. I was accepted and spent 3 months as a visiting student at the Imperial College London.
Imperial College London was ranked 8th in the overall QS World University Rankings in 2019, and needless to say, it is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Students around me were very studious, and I felt that many of them were knowledgeable and talented. Although there were few other students specializing in mathematics in the program, there were many students specializing in physics, numerical simulation, and meteorology, so I was able to discuss various topics with them during my stay. Through such discussions, I was able to deepen my understanding of research in other fields. Also, I feel that the MPE CDT program, where you could interact with people from various fields, was meaningful to me because I learned so much from other participants, whom I learned so much from because they were so talented.
Life in London
In London, prices were high as rumored, so I had trouble making ends meet with a limited allowance. Eating out was very expensive, and having lunch at a restaurant would be at least 1,000 yen, dinner being 2,000. However, vegetables were cheap, so I ate lettuce every day. I think I had a healthier diet there than I did in Japan. One of the things that surprised me the most was London’s extreme cashless culture. In fact, I didn’t see many local people paying in cash at supermarkets and restaurants. When I asked about this to students whom I became well-acquainted with in the program, they told me that there are many ATMs in the city with no charge, so it is easy to withdraw cash whenever needed. During my stay in London, I was exposed to a culture of a different country, making me look back on Japanese culture.
Finally, I would like to say that I am indebted to Professor Yoshihiro Shibata and Professor Martin Guest of Waseda University, and Professor Dan Crisan and Professor Darryl Holm of the Imperial College London, who have helped me arrange this study abroad. I would like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude towards them.