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Postgraduate students report on study-abroad experience at KU Leuven in Belgium (vol.2)

 From October 18, 2019 to November 18 2019, Mr. Shun Otsuka, a doctoral student of sport sciences at Waseda University, visited KU Leuven in Belgium as a visiting student through the Top Global University Program. Below is a report from Mr. Otsuka.

I visited the Faculty of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences of KU Leuven (KUL) in Belgium for a month, from October 18th to December 19th as an exchange student supported by TGU program. The main purposes of this visit were to collaborate with Prof. Benedicte Vanwanseele and her students and postdocs and to learn about the methods of measuring the body tissues (e.g. muscle and fascia) using ultrasonography. In this report, I would like to review my short but fruitful visit.

Study in KUL

The buildings of Faculty of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences I belonged to was located about 15 min by bicycle from the center of the city. There were six PhD students majoring in biomechanics in my laboratory. The time of discussing about the data interpretations and the dream as a researcher with these students from similar field of study were a valuable experience. I often had a lunch with the students and postdocs from my and other laboratories. It was a very good opportunity to talk about the differences of the culture and students between Europe and Japan with them. During my stay, I had a chance to participate in a defense of the doctoral thesis of a PhD student. The high-level presentation by peer of the same generation has highly motivated me to face a final defense in a few months.

In our campus, there is an experiment room for the measurement of muscle strength and motion analysis. I assisted the experiment of lab members who measure the movements of runners and learned how to operate the motion analysis systems. I also attended the class for master students to acquire the skill to use the ultrasonography and analyze the images. In the end of my visit, I measured the thickness of the body tissues (e.g. adipose, muscle and deep fascia) of the European students using ultrasonography for my own experiment. It was attractive experience for me to obtain the knowledges of race dependent differences of the body composition and strength.

Further, I participated in the international workshop (Electrophysiological and Imaging Approaches to Study the Neuro-Musculo-Mechanics of Human Movement) at the Free University of Brussels with Prof. Vanwanseele and all of lab members. I made a presentation about the efficacy of novel material for surface electromyography in the demonstration session. In the hands-on sessions and keynote lectures, I could learn about the latest knowledge of the biomechanics and neurophysiology.

Daily life in Leuven

My favorite building in Leuven city

In Leuven, I lived in a dormitory for short and medium terms international students from a wide range of countries (e.g. France, Italy, and Ghana, etc.). It was a great time when I was able to talk together and deepen friendship with students from different nationalities and faculties in a common room. During my stay in weekends, I visited several parts of Belgium such as Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges, as well as other countries such as Paris and Amsterdam. A visit to a historic building or a museum was an irreplaceable moment. It seems that the ease of visiting various countries is one of the advantages of studying abroad in Europe.

In addition, I went to dinner with the students of KUL and participate in event such as the 24-hour marathon, so I was able to get to know and communicate with many people during my short stay in Leuven. I would like to continue to contact the friends I have met in this city and hope to meet again somewhere in the near future.

Final note

Mr. Bavo Meert and my friends from Waseda University

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Prof. Benedicte Vanwanseele. She always took great care to keep my life in KUL well and gave me the opportunity to do the experiment. I truly thank lab members for their hospitality and teaching me how to use the experimental equipment. They often invited me to a coffee break or lunch and help me to get along with other PhD students and postdocs. Master and intern students also helped to recruiting the subjects of my study, which is one of the most difficult parts of experiment in overseas. I sincerely appreciate their time and kind cooperation.

Finally, I would really like to thank Prof. Kawakami, lab members in Waseda University, and all of staff of KUL and Waseda University.

Prof. Vanwanseele, Prof. Kawakami and Lab members

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