Uganda/Institute of Industrial Science（IIS)/Doctoral Student/My name is Kayondo Muzafalu, from Uganda, and I am a first year doctoral student at the Kishi Laboratory in the Institute of Industrial Sciences, Komaba, UTokyo.
My name is Kayondo Muzafalu, from Uganda, and I am a first year doctoral student at the Kishi Laboratory in the Institute of Industrial Sciences, Komaba, UTokyo.
What attracted you to Komaba, UTokyo?
Having had a western style education up until my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to have an exotic experience. I felt that I could achieve that in Asia and above all at the region’s top university – The University of Tokyo. Also, the presence of leading experts in my preferred field of study also led me to Komaba, UTokyo.
Describe the adjustment to Japanese culture.
My adjustment to the Japanese culture came quite easily for me; I already had great admiration for Japanese culture and was eager to experience and become part of it. I thus quickly fit into the Japanese culture by straight away learning the Japanese language (not easy though), interacting with Japanese friends, and trying to emulate them. Some aspects are, however, are still things that I don’t understand, since most of the cultural aspects I have been exposed to are those that I experience in my current environment at the University of Tokyo, and this is certainly not all of Japan! But the idea is to understand the differences in cultures and accept them!
What have been your best experiences at Komaba, UTokyo so far?
Well, so far, I have had several interesting experiences, but showcasing my country’s culture at the international garden party (2014) was one of the best experiences so far.
Describe the friendships and connections you’ve made at Komaba, UTokyo.
Being at Komaba, UTokyo has indeed exposed me to multicultural friendships especially since it attracts researchers from different parts of the world. In its silent environment, friendships are born and connections are made. I have made friends with individuals of over 10 nationalities. We usually celebrate these friendships in several gatherings, parties, sports activities and by assisting each other in day-to-day scenarios.
What’s your favorite thing about Shibuya and Tokyo?
I like not only Shibuya, but Tokyo at large, and probably Japan in general! This is because of the ease of getting what you want. Shibuya is mainly a meeting place for me, and of course “Hachiko” is synonymous with “meeting,” especially for meeting with colleagues for the mouthwatering foods found around Shibuya. As a tech lover, the automation of Tokyo impresses me most.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new international student or researcher, what would it be?
My simple advice to new international students or researchers is not to worry. Once you reach here (Komaba, UTokyo), you will find an international family ready to make your stay fulfilling. And once here, you should aim at using the available resources at Komaba, UTokyo to develop yourself as an individual.
Any stories you would like to share about being an international student or researcher at Komaba, UTokyo?
I go to the lab on a daily basis, and throughout the year, I watch the seasons change. New students come and others go around March/September. It is these times that reveal the importance of the time you have shared with students who are leaving; your paths have crossed and you hope to see them once again even as they embark on their new lives either here in Japan or back in their home countries. But also, it is these seasons that bring with them the new happiness of re-telling stories, giving directions to convenient shops and advice on the best times to get around, as well as introducing new friends to older acquaintances and hearing their stories too. Yes, the season of welcoming new students regenerates memories of the day when I first stepped foot on Komaba, UTokyo. And guess what? I look forward to this season even as I continue toward my last semester. As someone who will stay longer than one year, I can almost feel the worries, anxieties, and fears among the new international students, and I look forward sharing in their joy as they get accustomed to everything.