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  • Writer's pictureSSAJ Exco

Evan (Tohoku University)

Hi! I'm Evan, a second-year undergraduate student studying Physics in Tohoku University. When I'm not drowning in tests and/or assignments, I like to spend my time exploring my neighbourhood of Sendai City and looking for cute little cafes and restaurants to take a breather in.

As a city, Sendai is pretty laid back and chill – I’d say that it’s the lunch hour crowd to Tokyo and Osaka’s morning/evening rush hour frenzy. Being situated in the Northeast (or ‘Tohoku’) region of Japan, the summers are milder than in Tokyo, but the winters are kinder than in Hokkaido, so it's a great place to be if you’re looking to escape from the trademark Singapore hell of hot and humid weather. There are also tons of universities within the city limits, which gives you tons of opportunities to interact and network with students of various backgrounds studying various disciplines.

Tohoku University, where I study, is perhaps the most renowned university north of Tokyo. A quick google search will tell you that it has been named Times’ Top University from Japan numerous times within recent years, but what the Internet won’t tell you is that it also has a dedicated student support network. Not sure which classes to take? Ask the student support office. Not sure how to find an apartment? Ask the student support office. Not sure if you should go on to Master’s or go job hunting after you graduate? Ask the student support office. It’s a very reassuring environment to be in, especially as you’d probably be overwhelmed with everything that’s going on as a newly minted international student.

There’s also the 100 yen breakfast set that’s served at the school cafeteria before 8am, which helps a lot if you’re a starving, broke college student like me… Unless you’re someone who doesn’t like waking up early (like me). Oh well. I never eat breakfast anyway.

Aside from my full-time job as a Physics slave, I’m also a part of the school’s Acapella Club. We practice multiple times a week and host performances once every two months, and there is nothing more therapeutic than singing in perfect harmony (sometimes at the top of our lungs) outside the same classrooms that hosted lessons and exams which nearly drove us to insanity.

When school’s out, I usually go (domestic) traveling with my friends. Last winter, we bought the JR East Tohoku Pass (which cost 20k yen) and embarked on an ambitious attempt to travel to all 6 Tohoku prefectures in the 5 days we had on the pass, taking the shinkansen back every day and sleeping at home to save on accommodation. Five days later, with eyes tinged black with sleep deprivation and wallets empty anyway (thanks to our lack of self-control when it came to buying souvenirs), we found ourselves back in Sendai, having explored all the other 5 prefectures. (We promptly left to explore Southern Miyagi the next day, and the day after that, we were back in school, taking classes while barely awake. No one ever said I make sane decisions.)

Three months later, we did it again, only this time, we rented a car instead of buying the pass.

I chose to study in Japan for several reasons: to escape from the tropical hells of Singapore, to be able to eat more Japanese food at a lower price, and to study particle physics (a field that is not very appreciated in Singapore). I think I’ve managed to achieve all three so far, and I’m working steadily towards my goal of visiting all 47 prefectures one day.

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