In the summer between finishing my Bachelor of Science (Honours) and starting a job with Geoscience Australia, I was fortunate enough to be a Research Intern at the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute (AORI) with the University of Tokyo.
I worked on radiocarbon dating in the lab group led by Professor Yusuke Yokoyama. Radiocarbon dating is used to develop insights into paleoclimatology (the study of ancient climates), which can be used to model and develop strategies for climate change.
Working at AORI provided the opportunity to become familiar with the Japanese student lifestyle. Abundant sushi and free-flowing sake at end-of-year minimised the impact of the language barrier, and the vibrant and collaborative workplace meant I could build a network, even in an environment so different to Australia.
Other highlights included exploring the abundance of ridiculously delicious baked goods from the bakeries surrounding AORI, and trying the glorious fried chicken from the nearby convenience store – both foods perfect for the cold Japanese winter, but not so much for the Australian summer beach bod!
I spent much of my free time trying to get a sense of Tokyo. Though it took a while to get acquainted with the sometimes impersonal way of life in the vast Tokyo cityscape, I eventually found that each district gave its own flavour: some areas with your more secluded lifestyle; others with streets lined with hyper-glamorous fashion labels; and others with neon lights brighter than day. At the end of my internship, I was able to comfortably tailor my favoured destination in Tokyo depending on my mood, and doing so, was able to happily call Tokyo home.
The challenge of living in the expansive Tokyo metropolis while grappling with an entirely new field of research ensured an extremely fulfilling experience, enhancing both my personal and academic development.
A tremendous thank you to Professor Yusuke Yokoyama for allowing me to take part in the exciting activities at AORI. Finally, I couldn’t be more grateful to all those who helped me to call Kashiwanoha my home over summer 2018/19 – thank you!