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It is surprising how tight friendships are created through “living in the same boat” for the last nine months.

Once in a while, everyone wants a kick in the job that they do, something that differs from the ordinary routine life. I would say in Japan, I find myself facing new challenges all of the time, even until the end of the internship. The last nine months in Japan was anything but expected. The moment I stepped offthe plane, I was due for an adventure, despite not knowing how to speak the language and not knowing how the society functions. Thanks to great co-workers, Co-op Japan students, and friends that I made in Japan, they have all made my internship so great and memorable. I can pinpoint a few major events that made this experience a valuable and an unforgettable one, but I think it is the culmination of the many little things that happened in Japan that changed my perspective of this world, both academically, socially, and psychologically.

Life and Work in Japan
duncan prepared for his presentation

Living in Japan is not always convenient, despite the country has one of the world’s most efficient and advanced transportation systems, with the long commuting time being the culprit. For me, living in the suburb which requires a local bus to get to the nearest train station can sometimes makes a weekend outing not very attractive. But on the flip side, my dorm is located very near my company, so I was very grateful for my daily commute to work.

As for work itself, I was very glad by the ample of opportunities and freedom that my supervisors provided me. My work involves assisting in the research of a video compression scheme. Throughout the internship, I would be doing a lot of reading and programming to get a better understanding of my research, as well as developing ideas for improvements.

The way my supervisors treat me was a testament of how Japanese people typically treat guests and foreigners, which is with utmost courtesy and respect. They appreciate everything that I did, whether or not it adds value to their company, and they would spend a lot of time behind the scenes to make me feelcomfortable and happy for my stay in Japan. As a result, work environment is of first-class quality.Perhaps my most memorable experience was that I went on a business trip with my colleagues to Kyoto for a research conference. It was my first ever technical conference where I had to present my research finding to other researchers in the field. I was extremely grateful for my supervisors who spent many hours tomake it possible for me to attend this conference.

Duncan and his friends eating a Japanese restaurant

Outside of work, I spent a considerable amount of effort trying to meet new people and make friends. I find that one of the easiest ways to make friends is to find people who share the same interests as I do. I was fortunate to be able to meet new friends from my dormitory who play baseball with me. In addition, my colleagues have invited me to various activities such as BBQ, New Year party, and Go Kart racing. Another colleague also invited me to join his music group as a guest vocalist, where I had the opportunity to perform live outdoor in front of a large audience in our town. Just as important as friends made in Japan, I value as much the people who are close friend with me now, whom along with me, came to Japan as interns through CJP. It is surprising how tight friendships are created through “living in the same boat” for the last nine months. We coordinated many activities together, such as climbing Mt. Fuji, celebrating the various festivals in Japan, and joining countless number of drinking parties. In the end, I am proud to have such an opportunity of a lifetime. It is something definitely irreplaceable.

Duncan cooking!


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OLC Admin

SFU Staff
All Faculties
Co-operative Education
Simon Fraser University
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Jan 31, 2011

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