During our stay, we lived in the International House that is located just a short walk from campus. The best thing about I-House is that all the residents can speak English, which makes things easier for us foreigners. Also, there were people from countries all over the world. It was very easy to make friends and share our unique experiences. The dormitory also planned trips and events for residents. We went on a trip sponsored by the mayor, and did zip lining, barbeque, and sightseeing. It was an amazing experience.
Since Ritsumeikan University is fairly close to Kyoto, we were able to go there during the weekends. We visited the many temples, such as the Nanzen-ji Temple and the Ginkaku-ji Temple. It was a very nice cultural experience, seeing the many artifacts that were left behind hundreds of years ago.
The majority of our time was spent in the lab under Professor Ma. The lab specializes in biological intelligent mechanics, or, more simply, robots that mimic animals, specifically snakes. We were assigned to work under PhD student Fabian Reyes, who tasked us with coding a framework for communication between Mathematica and robots. At first, we were clueless, since we never really interacted with hardware before. As time went on, we became more familiar with the tools and equipment. With the guidance of Fabian and many others, we were able to successfully complete our project (Link of project: https://github.com/Anthuang/MathematicaSerialFramework).
All in all, this journey was a very valuable experience to both of us. Not only did we learn how researchers in labs operate, we also learned about the Japanese language and culture. Our newly gained knowledge will certainly help us in the future, no matter what we decide to pursue. If given the chance again, we will definitely come back.
Finally, to everyone that helped us, whether in the lab or at our dormitory, we just want to say: ありがとうございました!
Anthony and Thomas Huang.