Living & Learning: Japanese students overseas / Fun school life with astrophysics

Courtesy of Masaya Yamamoto
Masaya Yamamoto by the sign of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who graduated from Boston University

By Masaya Yamamoto (Boston University) / Special to The Japan News This column features reports by Japanese students currently studying overseas on their lives on and off campus.

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Being the first person in the entire history of my high school in Osaka Prefecture to apply and go to a college in the United States, I honestly feel proud of myself. Leaving Japan was somewhat intuitive for me at that time, but I now know why I made that choice. Doing the same thing all the time is not interesting. That is the main reason why I decided to leave Japan and go to a college in the United States.

Being fascinated by the wonder of showing a dark and almost empty space written in numerical formulas, I decided to study astrophysics in college. Boston University was not my first choice but it definitely has great researchers and professors in both astronomy and physics, so I chose to start college life in the center of Boston. And here in America I feel like I have more opportunities to think about myself than ever.

After finishing my freshman year and becoming a sophomore at BU, I realized what I really like — confronting challenging problems and trying to solve them.

When posed interesting but challenging problems in assignments every week by astronomy and physics professors, I frequently have no idea how to start solving them. But I try to draw something, write some formulas and question myself. Once every uncertainty is cleared up and I set everything up to solve the problem, “Eureka!” What I had written down on a piece of paper gives me great pleasure that I can’t compare to anything else in academics. Also, in particular, physics gives me important life lessons. The important one for me comes from the theory of relativity. Everything is relativistic. We cannot say which is true, who is true and what is true. To be honest, I have a tendency to see myself from others’ frame of mind, but realized that often doing that is wrong. What is important is to stay in my own frame of mind and be myself.

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I still do not know whether I fully appreciate problem-solving in academics or in general and have not decided what I am going to do in the future — either go to a graduate school or get a job, both of which have tons of challenging problems. But for the rest of my three years as an undergraduate, I will definitely work hard and play hard in the United States, being grateful to my parents and others who support me.

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Boston University

Founded in 1839, Boston University is the third-largest independent university in the United States. It has more than 32,500 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 130 countries.

In partnership with Ryugaku Fellowship


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