2017 was the first time when IIT Bombay was included in the IJEP Program and hence me being the first one from my institute selected for this internship program, didn’t have any seniors to talk to about their experience and it was these Student’s Voice accounts that helped me get some idea about the internship affairs, and so I’ll try to keep this sufficiently detailed.
I did my IJEP internship at the Information Science and Technology at Suda Lab. The internship process in India was simple. After completing the application and receiving the confirmation and acceptance one had to discuss and finalise the internship dates and durations with one’s professor and it is usually flexible. The necessary documents were provided and were sufficient for obtaining the VISA. (Note: It may require few documents from your side as well like your fathers pay-slip etc. and hence it is advisable to get the process started as soon as you receive all the documents from the university; The documents are usually addressed to the Consulate in Delhi but works everywhere)
Accommodation is something that might be of some concern as it is not provided by the program but the recommended lodgings are trustworthy and live up to the images on their websites. Some of the most common ones are Fujimi House and Sakura House, the former being costlier. Housing is expensive in Tokyo and hence sharing a room is advisable to save money. I stayed in Fujimi House – Princess Court Tabata Station and the stay was quite comfortable and all the necessary goods required are easily available in the neighbourhood.
After coming to Japan, one will quickly realise that it is nothing like India. The ubiquitous cleanliness, traffic rules (being followed), and the security is outstanding. And one cannot forget the convenience of the public transport; the trains, subway and the buses (Note: Look for IC Cards – Pasmo or Suica; They are really helpful). The IJEP staff from the University provide all the necessary orientation to kickstart your stay in Japan and along with the JLCSE department of UTokyo they also introduce you to the culture and some basic Japanese Language phrases! Though, your meeting with your professor and rest of the activities are totally based on the mutual consent between you and your professor and the IJEP staff and nothing to do with it. They will occasionally send emails regarding the JASSO Scholarship collection and other events going on in the university! (Note: No money was provided when we arrived in Japan and we had to fend for ourselves in the first month till the first instalment was provided)
Japan is a very beautiful country while being modern as well. There are loads of places to visit and thing to do. One must use this opportunity to not only explore the research possibilities in the university but also explore the city of Tokyo and the country of Japan. You may find these links useful in planning your trips around Tokyo and Japan. https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/model-route/kanto/index.html https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/ http://www.japan-guide.com/. Here are a few pictures of amazing places I visited in Japan
Japan, like India, has loads of Shrine and Temples some of which are amazing and breath-taking and visiting at least a few of them is a must.
Some issues one could face in Japan are
- Food for the vegetarians: Though the raw material is readily available, cooked vegetarian meal is a rarity. Learning to cook is the best option to survive without having to eat salads and breads! Indian restaurants (run mostly by the Nepalese) are not hard to find though, with three of them being just outside the Hongo Campus grounds. Overall, I would say it is not-impossible and manageable.
- Language: Believe it or not, hardly anyone speaks English in Japan and hence it becomes essential to learn basic survival Japanese to communicate well with the local people. The JLCSE department runs an introductory course during the latter part of the stay which is pretty helpful and you can even obtain a completion certificate!
Events – JLCSE
There are numerous event which happen periodically in the University which give a great experience of the Japanese culture right from within the institute. A couple of them which I was a part of include the Yukata wearing Workshop and the session with the Sumo Wrestlers.
Final Presentation and Party!
In the last week, we had a final presentation where we presented our work during the internship period and we were awarded our completion certificated. Later that day we had a part for the International Students of UTokyo with food, drinks and great events like the Watermelon breaking contest and Japanese Musical Chairs!
It was very saddening to leave such a beautiful country and the invaluable experience. Overall the experience was amazing and I would recommend everyone to give Japan a try!