Saturday, 28 June 2008

Living Research Environment..

Its been around 15 months since I came to Japan. During this time I have faced different challenges. First, to adjust myself to the new environment. Second, to pass the entrance exam of the University of Tokyo (which makes my heart beat just remembering that!! phew!). Third, to start and proceed with my research. The first two points are accomplished, now its time for the third.

I was stunned by the research environment the first moment I started my Masters. Actually how things run at the university is quite amazing. For Master students, at least in the Engineering faculty, taking courses is not that important. Yes, we must pass 8 subjects to graduate, but I can choose ANY 8 subjects. For example, I can take English courses, Maths, or Java. None of those are related to my Electronics Engineering field. At first, I thought this might be a mistake, since a student should take strong courses to aid his journey in research. But oh Toudai has proven me to be very wrong!

Graduate studies in the University of Tokyo focus on practical research more than on the theoretical one. Take any courses you want, but focus at your work at the laboratory. Each faculty has several laboratories to run their research. Any student at the Engineering faculty has to be a part of a certain laboratory. A laboratory is specialized in researching a certain topic that is a branch of the main subject. For example in Electronics Engineering, there are labs who work with CMOS, others with CAD, or even Communication. Now inside each laboratory there are groups. Each group is usually assigned a different task unrelated to the other groups so that the lab can produce different results simultaneously. To my surprise, inside a one group, each student is assigned a different task that is, ofcourse, related to the work of the rest of the group. This way, if a group needed an advice for the work of another group, since they all work under the same main subject, experienced help and support can be found.

Every week, all laboratories meet to present their current status and work, in whats called the weekly Electronics Engineering Presentation. All students of the Electronics Engineering gather and three students from three different labs present their current research and work. In doing this, every lab knows the status of other labs such that in case their research is needed to progress of any lab, the professor in charge is contacted. In addition to the fact that students learn alot whenever hearing other new researches. I, as a student, have to present once a year. I already presented two weeks ago and I received and Excellent feed back from the professors attended. Wohoooo!! (^_^)v

Now, all what I said above is nothing compared to what I am going to say next...

Whenever I sit with my professor, who is really really smart, he assures me that if I need any book, any component, anything I need to help me researching, I shouldnt hesitate to ask! Its really amazing! They are even ready to pay THOUSANDS of dollars to manufacture a chip that I designed just to test and proceed with the research. Ofcourse, this only occurs after many sleepless night of testing in simulation before the costy manufacturing can take place.

Now, the ultimate dream for any student in my position is to be selected to present in an international conference. This can only be achieved if the student had an original idea and succeeded in transforming it to a real design. I hope I can make it. My professor always goes around the world presenting in conferences with students, which can be a hint how strong the lab is working. Papers and publications from 2007 or 2008 is considered, you can not use old research and you should make sure you build something new, or resume old researches with new ideas, even as a Masters student!

Are you still wondering why University of Tokyo is a top-ten-over-the-world University?

I am not.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Japan: A welcoming Arrival..

I had a very long trip coming to Japan three months ago, with my husband. From Amman we had to transit at Istanbul. The security officer was saying:"Jacket, Jacket" while making gestures to me in order to take off what she thought was a long Jacket, which is actually my Jilbab. This happened at the checkpoint of the Turkish Airport. When I told her I can't take it off, she gazed at me strongly and took me aside to check me alone. A very embarrassing situation for a Muslim girl infront of strangers! Especially the way she treated me before, while and after the checking.

I tried to ease it up. I started telling myself: "Calm down calm down, don't be upset it's ok.. She is an employee, she has to do that for safety reasons.. BUT.. Can't she act more gently? Especially that Turkey is a MUSLIM country and they are used to see Muslim women!"

Hours passed before we arrive to the Airport of Japan (Narita). My husband assured me that I will receive a better treatment there. He even stressed the fact that I will be amazed from how organized and gentle procedures go in Japan. Here we are at Narita. Few minutes and it's my turn to be checked AGAIN! The previous experience of checking made me kind of stressed this time and that bothering feeling came up to me again. Are they going to do the same thing! Please God help me.

Here we are, my turn. I stepped into the checking point and kept walking........ HUH??!! Huh?!!!! We're finished?? I looked at the employee to make sure if it is ok for me to keep walking, she looked at me and gave me a WIDE smile followed by a "DOUZO"!!!

What a relief!!!!!!
Great Treatment! My husband was right!

Japan, thank you for respecting me the way I am.
This gave me an optimistic impression on living in Japan as a Muslim female.

Now my new life has started.. "BISMELLAH"....

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Welcome Blue Rose..

"What? Information about Japan as a society, a life and a whole another culture. Why? To help those who are interested in getting as much information about Japan as I can provide. How? Directly from inside the heart of Japan, Tokyo."

That is the goal of this blog.

Japan as a society, from a new perspective, is the new addition to this blog. Japan, from the feminine perspective, is the upgrade to my page.

Blue Rose will be writing here and helping me blogging about Japan. She looks at Japan from the perspective of a female, a new comer, a Civil Engineer, a resident and a housewife. That is why I am convinced she will enrich this blog with her useful and important posts to help in achieving the goal stated above.

Welcome Blue Rose, welcome my wife.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Do I HAVE to learn Japanese while I am living in Japan?

This is a question that is frequently asked. Before or while being in Japan, we ask ourselves this question.

Before I go into what I think is the answer, let me explain the situation here. Japanese people do not depend much on English. They use their own language in everything, starting from conversations up to the Engineering courses they teach in universities. So, it is hard to find Japanese people who fluently speak English.

Does that mean I have to learn Japanese before I can enjoy living in Japan?

Notice the stress on the word have. Because this way, the answer to the question is NO. You dont have to learn Japanese so you can enjoy your time, but you better.

For me, I spend most of my time in my lab at the University of Tokyo. And eventhough this university is considered the legendary ultimate university in Japan, and Asia, only very few students can make conversations in English, surprisingly. So I am forced to speak Japanese. Yet, I do not have much time to spend learning Japanese and taking courses. So, with my intermediate Japanese skills, and their intermediate English skills, a conversation can be made.

Generally, I know cases of people who lived in Japan for over 5 years and still cannot read the hiragana. Also, people who lived for more than 7 years and still cannot speak a complete sentence. And I know people who lived and studies in Japan for years and are only able of introducing themselves.

That means, we dont have to learn Japanese to survive. But I say you wont be able to enjoy then. I like the language so much and I totally wish I had more time to study Japanese and specifically study more Kanji so I would be able to read. I cant though, while in the middle of the research.

As a summary, Japanese is not essential to live in Japan, while its still important and better to have.