Four students went to study abroad from October 2019 to December 2019 at KU Leuven (KUL or KU Leuven) in Belgium through the Top Global University Project. The Health Promotion Model Unit interviewed them in the future and state of mind after studying abroad. They seem to have found new goals and a new self.
Question 6: What did you learn the most in KUL?
Wu: I think the most I learned from this trip was having confidence for having research discussion with the other people. In Japan, I always afraid that people would not understand my project because of its complexity or its stage in development. However, actually, in this trip I realized that it could be understood through an interactive process, as long as I tried to explain and solve their doubt about my research. However, the most important thing for this was that firstly I have to be brave to talk it out loud with other people.
Otsuka: I became more willing to use and speak English without any embarrassments. I also noticed that we can have discussions and communicate with each other even if our English is not perfect.
Fujihira: I was able to understand how my research could be perceived by foreign people. Also, I could learn that the impression of my research topic differs depending on the type of problem they have in their country, such as the national health policy and healthy life expectancy.
Kato: The experience in KU Leuven made me think about how to manage time for research and how it is important to set short- and long-term targets. Before visiting KU Leuven, I thought that the relationship between time length spent for research and the quality of research would be proportional, so I engaged in my study all day long. Due to this, I sometimes had to compromise or give up what I wanted to do (e.g. meeting a friend or travel somewhere). Throughout the experience in KU Leuven, I have realized that the way of thinking was wrong. Students and members of the Faculty of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences normally start working around 9 a.m. and finish by 6 p.m.. In particular, I was impressed at their attitudes during work time. They are glued to their works and intensively active during their working time. Of course, they finish their work on the time and published much more research outputs than me. These were the reasons why I decided to follow their working style and to change my attitude and intensity for my research. As a result, I have concentrated on my study more intensively and made much progress in my research as well as enjoyed weekends and holidays with friends. Now, I strongly believe that the quality of research is not determined by time length, but how to spend the time. I have learned how to manage time effectively and efficiently, and how to motivate myself during work time for achieving my goal.
Question 7: What is your challenge or dream in the future？
Kato: I had done the research proposal and made progress in KU Leuven, so I want to publish the collaborative study as the first author soon. Besides, I would like to communicate with foreign students because I do not want them to regret their decisions (coming here to learn). I would like to expand my research network internationally. My research interests are baseball and big data analysis in sports. A considerable number of cutting-edge investigations have been conducted and published from the U.S. so, I would like to go there for research in the near future.
Otsuka: I would like to be able to accept international students as much as I can making use of this experience in the future. I would like to study abroad again and do my research with the researchers I met at KUL.
Wu: The first priority for me is successful to publish an article in an international journal, and then write my thesis. After this KUL trip, now I have another goal to participate in a project at KUL. The project can be totally different what I have done before. However, I think it would be a good experience after I successfully complete this new research.
Fujihira: I would like to use new research techniques that I learned at KU Leuven into my research. Also, I want to keep in mind the attitude of enjoying research and work-life balance. One day, I hope to work with students who were together at KUL.
Question 8: Messages to all students
Fujihira: I really appreciated that all of the expenses was paid by the university. In addition, I could start research at KU Leuven smoothly thanks to Waseda University staff’s efforts. I recommend all of you to try it because it is unusual to have such a generous support for studying abroad.
Kato: If someone wants to be an excellent researcher, to exchange an opinion with others and to expand knowledge and research network in the field are necessary. These are the reasons why many students want to go abroad and do research in other universities. Although most people hesitate to do this because there could be a lot of reasons such as a lack of language proficiency, differences between cultures, needs to do lab work, or financial matters, I would like to tell them that they do not need to worry about those matters because people around them will help them as long as they show their passion and motivation for further improvements.
Wu: I think the message I want to deliver is not worry and just go. As most of students, I struggled with whether I should go to KUL because I still had many things I have not done yet at Waseda. However, it was worth to go there to see many different things and experience new matters, although it has to some extent challenge and financial cost.
Otsuka: Waseda University is one of the best universities which has a lot of funding for study abroad and research. Although there are many options and that is not difficult to obtain, you can not apply if you do not know that. Please actively search and apply for these funding. It is very tough to make a decision to study abroad, however it must be a good opportunity that you can’t get elsewhere. I highly recommend you to going and studying abroad even in a short period.