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Living & Learning: Japanese students overseas / Education surrounded by adventures

Courtesy of Rintaro Komori

Rintaro Komori, right, in a discussion group

By Rintaro Komori (Bowdoin University) / Special to The Japan News I was standing at the edge of the dock. A cold breeze ran over me. I was already shivering.

With a final look at the bottomless pit, I took the leap into the icy cold lake.

Every single time I flapped my arms against the surface of the lake, it glowed. 

I can vividly remember it to this day: my first learning experience during orientation week. 

This was the first time I had witnessed bioluminescence, an emission of “living light” created by microorganisms in the freezing cold lake of a September night. The surroundings were pitch-black, except for the “living lights” and the stars that shone above me. Eerie, but at the same time, spectacular! Though I was only able to withstand the cold for a mere ten seconds, never before have I felt such overwhelming excitement surging inside of me as I used every sensation of my body to “learn.”

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

If my college years were just about plugging numerical values into Schrodinger’s Equation or reading a textbook about Lorentz Transformation (I am a prospective physics and computer science major), I most definitely wouldn’t have traveled a distance of ten thousand kilometers to spend four precious years of my life away from my beloved family members.

Having lived only in the urban cities of Los Angeles and Tokyo, I’ve never had the chance to live in a remote city surrounded by wilderness yet filled with so many adventures. For example, during my second semester, a few of my close friends and I mastered how to freeline, a dangerous form of skateboarding where each foot individually operates a separate set of wheels — it’s crazy.

But never forget. Academics always trump extracurriculars. From my first semester, I’ve devoted much time and effort to my computer science and physics classes. Oftentimes, I would toil late into the night with those problem sets. There was this grueling moment when I stayed up for three whole nights to read a paper for a philosophy class called Meaning of Life.

I know. It’s crazy.

Right now, I’ve decided to give myself some time off from my “home” and take a gap year. I interned at a Coca-Cola Japan IT department during the summer and am currently working as a research assistant at Dwango Artificial Intelligence Lab to get some hands-on experience with coding. I’ve still got three more years left at Bowdoin and I’m looking forward to whatever kinds of learning experiences I can have there.

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Bowdoin College

Founded in 1794, the private institution is currently considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States. Notable alumni include novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen.

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In partnership with Ryugaku Fellowship

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