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Living & Learning: Japanese students overseas / MIT place for strong student-professor bonds

Courtesy of Yotaro Sueoka
Yotaro Sueoka, right, in a bioengineering class

By Yotaro Sueoka (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) / 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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Students driving motorized shopping carts around campus, numerous whiteboards hanging on the walls of dormitories filled with integral signs and matrices … what I saw when I visited MIT’s campus after being accepted was more than enough to make the decision to call the place home for the coming four years.

In high school, I participated in many biology-related activities. I was especially fascinated by the intricate molecular system that governs the immune system. At the same time, however, I was realizing that limiting myself solely to biology had the risk of narrowing my perspective. The vibrant community I saw during the campus preview week made me feel that this school would expand my horizons immensely.

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As a freshman, I have not declared my major yet. Still, I am considering studying bioengineering, a field where I can incorporate biology and technology to yield something new.

The experiences I had this past semester went beyond my expectations. Every Wednesday night, my friends and I would gather in front of a whiteboard and discuss the homework problems. And the chat mostly kept right on going even after we finished the homework, on such themes as random scientific topics, politics and sometimes even pop music. I felt the range of my understanding of the world growing.

Students not only actively interact with each other — they also carry on lively communication with professors. MIT strongly encourages such interaction by paying for the food whenever a student asks a professor out to dinner. Last semester, I used this opportunity, and enjoyed an expensive sushi platter with my physics professor. Over fancy chunks of rice wrapped in seaweed and mango, he told me how his never-fading passion toward superconductors led him to his current position. Through such experiences, I was able to learn more than I would have by simply listening in a classroom.

I aspire to make the best of my four years here at MIT, utilizing every bit of the resources at my disposal and expanding my personal connections with people around me. With what I gain, I hope to go on to graduate school and eventually conduct research that contributes to the scientific world.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Founded in 1861, the Cambridge, Mass.-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology has students from about 120 countries. Eighty-five Nobel Prize Laureates have been affiliated with MIT.

In partnership with Ryugaku Fellowship

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