Kyushu Institute of Technology – Rishi Raj Singh, MT1

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Application Procedure:

I was mailing professors from all around the world for summer internships. I mailed around 250 in total. I started pretty late, in January, so I was mailing a lot per day. For the intern I did, I got the reply in late April (I’d sent that mail in January). I got a lot of replies but all of them were either of rejection or unpaid interns.

I applied in mostly in 3 fields, cybersecurity, algorithms and complexity and machine learning. I hadn’t done any projects but I had done a lot of online courses on these topics. I practised on Kaggle, a competitive machine learning platform and that helped a lot.

The Internship:

I was working on social behaviour analysis of autistic mice. We had mice which we doped with drugs so they have autism and then analyzed their behaviour. We had a lot of experiments between different sets of mice. Mice provide a very good model of human biological behaviour, so we can extend the results to humans. Since Japan is an ageing society, a significant percentage suffers from autism and hence the study.

There was no particular daily schedule. After every 15 days, we had to give a presentation in a seminar. The daily work was flexible, you could go to the lab or stay at home. You just needed to show your research.

Academic Environment:

The student-professor interaction at KIT is much more frank and casual than that at IIT. They follow a simple mentality, if they don’t study, then their own degree will be at stake, so no one forces anyone to work. They can study till whenever they like, there is no set amount of years to complete to get a degree.

Social Scene & Random Observations:

My supervisor arranged for my accommodation. It was a great apartment and everything was very accessible. The metro was a 2-minute walk and the university a 5-minute one. The Japanese don’t interact much unless you interact with them, that’s why I didn’t interact with many people there.

The Japanese are very humble, suppose you are entering a room and see someone coming to the same room, you have to keep the door open until they come. In the elevators as well, the person who enters first has to keep the elevator open so that the others can come in.

The Japanese also bathe naked in the common showers. Other places in the world have Disneyland, but Tokyo is the only place in the world that has DisneySea. It is a pretty cool experience, with lots of rides and shows. Tokyo also has the longest tower in the world, called the Tokyo Sky-Tree. In Japan, there is a vending machine per 23 people. You can find a vending machine within 50 metres anywhere in Japan.

Places I Visited:

The city I lived in was Kitakyushu, famous for its Ramen. It’s essentially noodles in soup with pork pieces. There were a lot of Ramen shops there and a few Indian ones as well. In my city, I visited a mountain called Mt. Sarakura.  Apart from that, I visited the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

Realizations:

The research experience was pretty cool. You have a lot of freedom and can choose the research field you want to work upon. You get to choose your own research project. Japan promotes its research pretty well and I am more inclined towards research after the internship.

Memorable Experiences:

It’s probably when I went to Tokyo. It is a beautiful city and I had a lot of fun roaming with my friends from KIT and Tokyo. There was a particular experience that I remember. It was 11.30 in the night and all our phones were off. My friend had some money but I had none. We were crossing a bridge and suddenly it started shaking and we were very confused. We later realized that it was an earthquake. We ran fast to get to the metro, picked up a random ticket and while my friend managed to enter the last train ahead of me, I just barely managed to scrape in. I would have got lost with no money and network if I had been a few seconds late.

Regrets:

The professor which I worked with particularly works with Assistive Robotics, so my project was completely new. It was the first project I worked upon and I was not particularly able to accomplish a lot from this internship because the professor and the PhD students could only help me to a certain extent.

Article By: Aryan Agarwal

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