Some Recent Activities of a Ryuugakusei of Kanda Lab

By. Alvin Christopher Galang Varquez

I've finally started my PhD life. So far, research life has been quite exciting for me these past 2 years. New knowledge and experiences seem to greet me every week like a passing of a speeding train. Spending time in Kanda lab during weekdays feels more than just a routine. Upon arriving around 9 in the morning, everyone greets each other; I make my coffee, research, more research, then lunch, brief chats and laughs with the lab members, 10-min. nap, then research, and more research till sometimes past 7 in the evening. During weekdays, we hold one meeting, called seminars (or zemi), where assigned members have to present and get feedback with their current research status. We also have a developmental meeting where we all read a highly technical book (e.g. Schlichtingfs gBoundary Layer Theoryh, Garrattfs gThe Atmospheric Boundary Layerh, etc.), when after which we share our opinions and understanding. These activities I find highly useful to keep everyone in the same pace. You can refer to these activities in the previous articles (which are unfortunately written in Japanese).

However, my life in Japan isnft just a boring cycle of going from my apartment to the lab, and vice-versa. I also had some unique recent experiences in between.

Luckily, I belong to a lab where we enjoy our research very much but while respecting our free time as much. When I was finishing my Masterfs, my weekdays are spent in the university even during long-term breaks like summer and spring break. However, I see to it that my weekends and free time were well spent.
Every weekday morning, I developed a habit of waking up early to join radio taisou. Itfs a series of basic calisthenics conducted throughout Japan with instructions and background music coming from one station through a radio. This practice dates back to as early as 1930fs introduced by an insurance company from the US. 10-minutes of my time are all it takes. After which, I jog around Senzoku-ike 3 times. First, it was just me doing it. Then, friends of mine decided to tag along. I got into this after being invited by one of my close neighbour/friend. This gives me good health, positive energy with a clear sense of mind. Ifve made lots of friends most of which are older people (some even thrice my age).

This activity, in turn led me to my next experience.
At Senzoku-ike in the morning.
With my friends I join taisou with. We got these ghappyh from my neighbour and good friend,
Shigeki-san (in green) as a reward for joining the exercise.
Once, while I was jogging with my friends, a middle-aged lady in black sport wear suddenly went in front of us. I was really surprised when she confidently said, gHello, good morning! Do you enjoy singing and dancing? I am organizing a musicalh. She introduced herself and told us she was recruiting for younger musical members because of the members were old. At first, I felt a little suspicious and not committed at all and replied that Ifll try to contact some people who might be interested. Then after 2 weeks, she met us again and told me she hasnft received any reply. So, I thought of checking the place out since it is in her house very near the lab.

True enough she was right. They were very dedicated and I was impressed after understanding the message they were trying to portray. They were just doing it like a hobby but with greater impact. The musical was actually intended for the victims of the Fukushima earthquake. It was made to promote courage, perseverance, and cooperation to overcome the situation through a very simple play. I was very much moved and I wanted to support them in their cause. Also, they only conduct the practice twice a month for 2 hours so it was not getting in the way of my research.
Last November 26, 2011, we presented the musical at the Minemachi Bunka (Cultural) Center. It was a success.
During the first performance at Minemachi Bunka Center.
I think Ifm the guy in red shirt.
The next experience I had was the Toky Tech gEikidenh. In one of the workshops when I presented my research, I met a Japanese PhD student from Suzukakedai who like joining marathons. We talked and I tried to invite him to go jogging in the morning. Instead, he invited me to join a 3-km. run held last November 20, 2011. I thought it was like an ordinary 5-km. marathon but gEikidenh is a relay race. It is a popular racing sport in Japan (try to Google Hakone eikiden). Upon knowing that it was a relay, I felt obliged to train for the teamfs success. We didnft get the highest rank but we did well; and I performed not as worse as I had expected. Having participated in a Japanese cultural sport gave me a sense of belongingness. Next year, Ifd be glad to join again.

How about with members of the lab?
My turn to run. The strap from my left shoulder is called gtasukih representing the message to be relayed.
Behind shows the new Tokyo Tech library.

Having all these extra-curricular activities allowed me to appreciate my presence in Japan more. Much of the pleasure I derived from weekend, I use to fuel my passion for research.

Currently, Ifm doing my internship in one of the leading research institutes in Japan for earth sciences, The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).Ifve started working since the middle of October until February. Ifve been gaining much knowledge about climate from my mentors and supervisor all necessary for my research. Ifm currently investigating the urban meteorology of Nagoya City and for me to understand it I must understand not only the local climate but the climates of its boundaries as well. Anyway, Ifm still in the middle of my work. Ifm looking forward to write my experiences in JAMSTEC and an article about my findings in the future.
The logo and name in Kanji at the wall outside
JAMSTE YES office.
My workspace at JAMSTEC provided
by Kanda Lab and the institute.

Finally, if therefs a message Ifd like to say to my co-International students itfs to be able to balance the schedule well. When I say balance, Ifm not suggesting it only for the purpose of a better research but for onefs whole well-being. As long as we stick to our word and we know our priorities, these gout of the blueh experiences are what make our lives here in check.

Everythingfs getting more and more difficult from now with research but I am highly confident Ifll pull through and make a good contribution.

Till next time!

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