Boys and Girls be ambitious, Study Abroad in Youth
Research assistant professor Takashi Fujimura
Boston had a second winter season just after starting of spring in this year, but finally we have hot spring days now, albeit wind is still chill. Although reach of spring at Boston was delayed in this year, Boston Children’s Hospital celebrates its 150th-year anniversary （https://bch150.childrenshospital.org/）.
Scientific seminars are held almost every week at the Harvard Medical School in term of classes. In Japan at most universities/college and even at institutes, it is generally rare that a conference room will be fully occupied by audience every time at a scientific seminar. However, at the Harvard Medical School, the seminar room is always full with audience every time at a seminar . I am greatly impressed by very aggressive attitude of the scientists/physicians and students at the Harvard Medical School toward science.
The Karp building, where I do my scientific research, is a different building from main building of Boston Children’s Hospital. I have seen many post-doc fellows and international students from east and west Asia. In my impression, largest population of international post-doc/students at the building are from east Asia like China and Taiwan area. Supportively, at the new fellow orientation I attended at February in 2018, there were six new international staff, one was from Japan (me), one was from Swiss, and the others were from China and Taiwan. I think that it mirrors the significant progress of economic and scientific development in China/Taiwan. I also feel the number of Japanese scientists/students who study abroad is getting lower as reported in scientific media. I also notice that international post-doc and students from other countries than Japan look younger than those from Japan. I think it is better to study abroad during you are young, because many staff including technical assistants, post-doc fellows and students are mostly young, generally from 20th to middle 30th of age. So, it is reasonable that young guys may feel more comfortable to communicate laboratory staff each other than elderly guys do (of course it also depends on your personality). Your English skills also will be easily improved while you are young than after you get older. Therefore, I recommend you to study abroad in youth. If you study abroad after you get old, like me, you may feel more difficulty to improve your English skills because of less opportunity to communicate with much younger staff and less plasticity of your listening ability. You may feel bad health condition due to foreign circumstances and foods which are usually much different from in Japan. Although I agree your opinion that ‘After my English skills get better, I will study abroad’, I recommend you to study abroad when you are young because ability of listening English is difficult to improve in Japan and I think the best way to improve your communication skills in English is to communicate with your native English-speaking friends abroad. Also, after you get old, you can experience more difficult situation to find your new job in Japan compared to when you were young. You may need to come back Japan for interview every time applying new job, if interview via internet is not acceptable for a position you apply.
Collectively, if you think ‘I want to study abroad in future’ or ‘I want to get job in an academic field’, I strongly recommend you to study abroad while you are health and young!