Preparation and arriving in Japan
To apply for an IAESTE internship, I had to fill out a profile on their website. Everything went smoothly, and I got feedback if something was not right or must be changed. After I got nominated, I had to fill out some paperwork and finish the application with a cover letter. I sent the complete application to my IAESTE contact, and he took care of applying to Japan. Two days afterwards I got the notification that I was accepted by the company and would spend my summer in Japan. The only thing I had to do was booking my flight to Tokyo. Everything else was organised by IAESTE Austria and IAESTE Japan. When my internship got closer, I was contacted by a Japanese IAESTE member. She introduced herself as my contact person, who will help me through my first days in Japan and give me as much information in advance as I needed. She was also in contact with my company, and I got a lot of information about my work in advance. When I flew to Japan, I got picked up by my contact person at Nippori train station. She accompanied me to my hotel and helped me with the check in and she explained to me when and how I have to go to my apartment a few days later. She accompanied me to my apartment and also on my first day at the company to avoid misunderstandings. After that, I was allowed to ask her any questions if I needed advice or a translator.
Living in Japan
In the beginning, everything was overwhelming for me. My contact person helped a lot, but Tokyo alone has 13 million inhabitants. Including the metro area, which in fact is the city, Tokyo has around 37 million inhabitants. I never lived in such a big city before, which made it a massive challenge for me. The public transport system is enormous and even native people had to use their smartphones to get the right connection. Luckily Google maps helped me out, and I was able to navigate in Japan. My first impression was that Japanese people are amicable but in general introverted. They hardly approach someone on the street, which means that you always have to contact them if you need something. Only if you look like as you would look for something or you are confused, they come over to you and ask you if you need help. One problem in such a situation is that I do not speak Japanese and most of the Japanese people hardly talk English. This makes it almost impossible to talk with them, but they wanted to help me, and so we often communicated with Google translate or with gestures. After four days in Tokyo, I moved into my apartment, which was paid by my company. The room was bigger as the average room in Japan. I lived there alone, and I had a kitchen and a washing machine in my flat. The apartment was close to a supermarket, and I only had 20 minutes walk to my company, which was great. Living costs are slightly higher as in Austria, but since I got paid for the internship that was not a problem.
Working for KDDI Total Research Institute
I worked for KDDI Total Research Institute in Fujimino in the Information Security group. On my first day got a welcome meeting, where my colleagues introduced me to my research topic and told me what they expect from me during my internship. Since I worked for an international research company, I worked with foreign people from around the world. In the Information Security group, we worked on one of their main research topics, which was the Internet of Things (IoT). The English level was much higher than I expected from my first days in Japan, which made working and talking with my colleagues much more comfortable. The attitude to work is different to Austria. All my colleagues started working between 9, and 10 am in the morning and stood at work until 9 or 10 p.m. I got my badge on my first day, so I was able to work whenever I wanted. The most significant difference for me, compared to the working attitude in Austria was that most of my colleagues focused hard on their research topic and they hardly talked to each other, except when they needed some advice or wanted to discuss some research results. Personal talks happened only during lunchtime, which was fixed for one hour, were also the light in the office was switched off. What I liked about my internship and the company was, that they gave me the freedom to chose my research topic on my own. As long I would research within the domain they told me in my welcome meeting, it was fine. If I needed some advice or wanted to discuss my
results with them, they always arranged a meeting for us, such that we could talk about everything in detail. This internship gave me a lot of insights how research in a private company works and if I would like this kind of work in the future.
Spending your spare time
From my apartment, it took me about 45 minutes to the city centre of Tokyo. I had a direct line from my home in Fujimino to Ikebukuro, from which most further connections are available. IAESTE Japan connected me with other trainees via a Facebook group, and they organised some special events for us. One of which was a firework festival in Tokyo where the group picture below arose. Other events included a trip to Yokohama, Osaka or Mount Fuji. After some while, we also organised some other activities to Kamakura and Saitama. During the weekend I tried to see as much as possible from the country. The countryside of Japan is stunning, and it reminded me a little bit of Austria. In most cities, you can find multiple shrines, which are beautiful and give you an insight how important religion is in Japan. After I finished my internship, I took the chance to travel to Japan for some days. IAESTE supported me to be safe with my visa and to have a descend travel route.
My internship in Japan was one of the best experiences I have ever made. I liked my internship and hanging out with the other trainees. Getting to know such a different culture will influence me in so many different ways, and I am grateful for the offered experience. I would like to thank KDDI Total Research Institute for participating in the IAESTE trainee program and IAESTE for organising it. IAESTE of helped me in so many ways before and during my internship, which made it such a great experience.