July 17, 2018, Blog by Sean Wilson, Mechanical Engineering, Renewable Energy in Japan.
Greetings, striving international travelers!
Let me get the introductions out of the way by telling you a little bit about myself.
I’m a current Army reservist with 3 years active duty time. Since leaving the active side, I’ve been going to school at UW Bothell and work home remodeling as a part time job. I’m an instrument rated Private Pilot studying for my Commercial Certificate, and I’m a senior at UWB’s Mechanical Engineering program. My long-term career goal is to become an Airline Transport Pilot.
I was born and raised in Bothell, WA by my American father and Taiwanese mother. I come from a large family of 6 siblings. As my older siblings moved out of the house, my parents began hosting foreign exchange students. We’ve taken in students from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Taiwan, and many others over the years.
Being grown up around a large family and cultures from around the world, I’ve always been a traveler; most of the time solo. I’m driven all across the United States, from the Florida Keys to New York City, and have visited Thailand, Vietnam, Iraq, Kuwait, Canada, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands. Some of my other hobbies include snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and exploring the Northwest!
The program I will be attending in Early Fall is called Renewable Energy in Japan and US. The focus of this program will be on sustainable and reliable energy systems and how international dramatics can influence the choice for a certain type of system. When I heard this program was taking place in Japan, I knew I wanted to be apart of it. Being from Taiwanese descent, Japan and Taiwan have great relations and I have always been deeply interested in Japanese culture.
For me, the most important aspect of this program is experiencing engineering from an international standpoint. If I were to only study American engineering, I would be doing myself a great disservice. For example, the US relies heavily upon fossil fuels to support its energy requirements. Japan on the other hand, put a lot of money into nuclear energy. After the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe, in which a nuclear reactor melted down and leaked radiation wastes into the surrounding area, the Japanese government shutdown all nuclear reactors, creating a void in energy production, from which Japan still suffers today. Through cooperation in programs such as this, both the US and Japan will be able to take away different aspects from each other in order to better themselves in the crisis that each hold.
Although I do not speak Japanese, I have taken it upon myself to learn a few phrases to be respectful to others, but also find my way around If I get lost. Being an American, there are plenty of stereotypes which can be of concern. The only thing I can do, is act accordingly and bring the best that I have to offer in order to represent my country in positive light. The language barrier will be difficult, however there are plenty of aids available nowadays that I can use to assist me. Google translate is accurate enough to get a message across.
I have prepared myself to the fullest, but there are always unknowns when traveling internationally and it is up to me to ensure that I’ve minimized the risks that come with traveling abroad. Planning accordingly and getting things organized well ahead of time will greatly reduce stress and the likeliness for you to miss important information.
For now, the departure date is still a month away, but stay tuned for more updates on my adventures on Japan Study Abroad!