Last summer, I traveled south-west of Japan to an island just off the eastern coast of China. A small haven with around 23 million inhabitants, great food, and friendly people. TAIWAN.
I spent three weeks there for an intensive summer program in the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST), along with 2 other GSEP students, 4th-year Zoon, 2nd-year Ying, and 5 other Japanese students.
The topic this year (it changes annually) was Robotics. 16 students, half of which are from Tokyo Tech, were divided into 4 groups. After 2 weeks of taking lectures, each group spent the last 7 days working on the robot project. Our mission was to make a robot that could move automatically from ‘Start’ to ‘End’ in a map, by tracing the black line that connects them. The final day of the program would be a competition where we would showcase our robots’ ability.
The lectures for the first two weeks were from 9 am to 5 pm, but in the final week we basically stayed till 9 or 10 pm to do our project. It was an exhausting process. However, everything I learned kept me ‘entertained’ and motivated since Robotics was something entirely new for me. In addition, the lectures really helped us for the preparation. I experienced hands-on how amazing the Robotics field is as it’s where many types of disciplines come together, like the IT, mechanical design, and electrical circuits.
I was paired up with two Taiwanese students, 張桂斌 (Denny) and 王碩鋒 (Jacky), and a Japanese 宮本駿一 (Miyamoto). It was tough at first due to our unfamiliarity with each other, in addition to the language barrier and everyone’s different levels of English or Japanese. However, as time went by, we grew closer and soon it felt comfortable working side by side with each other.
It was lovely working with them since we always had something to talk or joke around about. Everybody would come to school with motivated and friendly spirits. We would discuss the lecture topics, things about our robot design, and divide roles, whilst sharing more personal things like hobbies, routines, and future plans. At the end, we were able to take first place in the competition! お疲れ様 Group No. 3!
Even after a long day of lectures or groupwork, the Taiwan Tech students would take everyone to go see tourist spots, cultural spots, or to eat the local food.
Let me just point this out: Taiwan has some of the best food in the world. There’s a wide variety of snacks, hot foods, and interesting things to try. Some of the common local dishes include Beef Noodle Soup, Oyster Pancake, Wontons, Hot Pot, Mango Shaved Ice, Bubble Milk Tea, Stinky Tofu, and really good/cheap breakfast; all which I have tasted.
Transportation is also very convenient in Taipei. We basically used the train or bus to go around. (Though, some might say the buses there are super rapid.) This allowed us to visit many of the local places with comfort, speed, and low costs. I can’t list of all them, but here are some of my favorites:
- Taipei 101; I ate the best dumplings in my whole life at Din Tai Fung. Also, the view of the city from the top was spectacular.
- National Palace Museum; a world-class museum that hosts an eclectic collection of treasures. Both the interior and exterior were grand and beautiful.
- Tamsui River View; one of the best sunset moments I’ve experienced. Plus, the breeze there was refreshing.
- Shifen Waterfall; though it was quite far from Taipei, it was a good break from the summer school, to just be out in nature and breathe fresh air.
3 years ago, before I entered GSEP, I never imagined myself to have such opportunities like this – where I could participate in short summer programs in other countries. Now, I feel very lucky to have entered the GSEP since Tokyo Tech has international connections with universities all around the world and this summer program was possible due to its good relationship with Taiwan Tech.
All of us only go through Undergraduates once. That is why, I try my best to get the maximum experience during my Bachelor studies. Opportunities like this don’t come twice – one reason why I joined this summer program. It helped expand my connections and enrich my view of the world. I’m certainly looking forward to my next overseas adventure!
Last but not least, I would like to thank all of the faculty and staff who have made this program possible. Thank you for arranging the accommodation, lectures, and the project. Also, thank you to all the Taiwan Tech students for helping maximize our summer program experience in Taiwan. We hope to meet you all again next time! またね！