Work Hard, Play Hard – in the Summer Program of Stanford University

by Taiga Tsubota

I clearly remember the first day when I came to Stanford University. On the shuttle to the campus, I was too nervous to sit still. Who will be my roommates? Can I keep up with the class? What if I drop off? I was always caring about these kinds of concerns, which turned out to be nothing to worry about.
The dorm was a quite welcoming place like home. My roommates are from Hong Kong and Pakistan. The student from Hong Kong was always friendly and generous, and Pakistani roommate was a sociable and had a good sense of humor. I liked them soon, so on weekends, I always hung out with them. We took other roommates to our own ethnic restaurants outside the campus and introduce our cultures. Moreover, once we went out to an amusement park and screamed in a loud voice on a ride.
I also had other friends from Japan, China, South Korea, India, Netherlands and the like. With Asian friends, I had a great fun to go to San Francisco to cross Golden Gate Bridge by bike, to sing a lot in a karaoke bar, to visit Apple main buildings, and to enjoy the beautiful starry sky in the observatory.
Of course, my main purpose was to study, so I focused on studying. Although I belong to the Department of Civil Engineering in the University of Tokyo, I took different courses from my major. Two of them were related to economics, which was my greatest interest, and one of them was an activity course.
I took a graduate-level macroeconomic course, which was not easy to say the least. The assignments require the computer skill of drawing graphs. I had no skills for programming, so I asked the TA to teach me how to use Python and Mathematica. Thanks to her considerate help, I could finish a paper and at that time I was filled with a sense of accomplishment. Looking back on the days I worked hard on it, I can assert it was a valuable experience. Also, I asked him to talk with the professor personally in a café and got useful information about economics. Even after finishing the class, I keep in touch with him on e-mail. I appreciate the chance to meet this very caring and generous professor. Another economic course that I took was about game theory. For the review of game theory itself and for the preparation of the graduate-level microeconomic course in UTokyo in the following semester, I chose this class. Even though I had already learned game theory before, it offered me a nice opportunity to review. Some of the homework was tough, so I discussed with a friend from Hong Kong until late at night.
Another notable course was a meditation activity. I heard that Steve Jobs had liked Zen meditation, and as a member from East Asia, I wanted to know deeply about meditation, so I decided to engage in this course. The lesson took place in a room on the roof floor, from which we could see an amazing landscape over the campus. In the very calm place, I inhaled the fresh oxygen and exhaled air together with all my anxieties. I also made a conversation with my classmates and tuned in to their worries. Every time after the two-hour-long class, I was free from any stresses.
Stanford offered me an unforgettable memory of both socializing and studying. I already miss the comfortable weather of California, the swimming pool under the moderately warm sunshine, the spectacular campus with Mediterranean buildings, and all of my wonderful, supportive, sometimes crazy and funny friends. Without the generous help of FUTI, I could not have enjoyed this summer session in Stanford. I am really grateful for the help. Now that I was motivated immensely, I would like to dedicate myself to study in UTokyo in the next semester.