Dialogue with Oversea Intern — Interview Makoto Kato
Makoto Kato is a Japanese intern from WIT Group. This is his second internship in MSRA WIT. He shared with us how he got in MSRA and his own experience of research. Compared to Kyoto University, Kato thinks the major difference is that “People look so young in MSRA. Everyone enjoys games in the lounge, and is excited in some events. When I joined MSRA, I felt a big energy from interns”. Actually, this is what he likes most here. Kato also shares us his experience at MSRA, “During this internship, I joined a lot of activities with my friends in WIT group, which include sports such as bowling and archery, dinners in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese restaurants, and movies in Chinese without an English subscript.“
1) How did you come to MSRA? Who interviewed you?
First of all, I sent my CV to a Japanese UR person, and then my phone interview day was noticed. When I was preparing for the interview, I was so nervous because I had not had any experience of talking in English through phone. On the interview day, I took my phone, and said “Hello” with shaking voice. But the interviewer was a Japanese researcher Dr. Tetsuya Sakai, and he said “Hello” in Japanese, which made me so relaxed. A few weeks later, I got an offer letter from MSRA.
My mentor, Sakai-san, asked me an important question in the last of that interview, “Can you survive in Beijing?” Actually, one of the tough problems for foreign students is the change of environment. Food, weather, habit, and language are all different from ones in their country. I think “Yes” to that question was his minimal requirement.
2) Why did you come to MSRA the second time?
In the first my internship, I spent six months in Beijing. I’ve tried two topics during that term, and finished one but did not another. Around my check out day in my first internship, suddenly I felt I would regret so much if I threw it away. I asked my mentor, and got an offer letter again after going back to Japan.
3) Describe your days in Beijing. What do you usually do in leisure time? Any place or food you particularly enjoy in Beijing?
During this internship, I joined a lot of activities with my friends in WIT group, which include sports such as bowling and archery, dinners in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese restaurants, and movies in Chinese without an English subscript. There are some choices for lunch and dinner, and all the choices are great for me except B1 Chinese buffet. I think Japanese interns and employees like 川菜 with 白酒and绍兴菜 with绍兴酒 , and so do I.
I’ve been to Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven, which are all world heritages. At first, I visited Forbidden City, which is so huge and gorgeous. I’ve never seen such a type of buildings in Japan, so was surprised so much. To be honest, I dislike traveling for a long time. But, in Beijing, there are three heritages in a very small area. It’s a good place for me.
4) Which is the best Japanese restaurant in Beijing? What kind of alcohol do you like best?
Absolutely, 味徳 (Ajitoku) is the best Japanese restaurant in Beijing to my best knowledge. Please try it! http://www.dianping.com/shop/513767
I like绍兴酒the best. The second best is Japanese Sake, and白酒follows it. Japanese do not know 白酒 well, and know 绍兴酒 more. When I came to Beijing, 白酒 was so strong for me. But I’ve got used spending six months here, so am getting familiar with白酒, which has become the third best alcohol for me.
5) Would you please describe the life in Kyoto University?
This story includes my biased university life so much. My university, Kyoto University, sets an agenda “academic freedom.” Actually, there are many students that are going their own way, and sometimes do not follow their supervisor’s opinions. Some of them are so funky to play dress-up as an animation character in their graduation ceremony. (Search by “京都大学 卒業式”!)
The atmosphere is quite similar to that of MSRA, free, friendly, and sometimes excited in events. Normal students cannot get up early, and show up at the university around 12 o’clock. PhD students always have trivial jobs for their supervisor, and the management of their laboratory (I think it’s a usual case in any laboratories). Some days before a deadline, students often stay at a laboratory and work a lot. But except that, they don’t stay so long time, and go back to their house early.
6) Compared to your University or other research institutions, would you please tell us some difference with MSRA? Would you please describe something or someone impressed you in MSRA?
Frequency of discussions is the first difference I felt. In MSRA, we can see people discussing a research anytime. But in our laboratory, many students are working silently, and there are a few people. It’s sometimes a good environment when working by myself, but discussion is a fundamental procedure to progress a research, so I prefer MSRA style. Second, people look so young in MSRA. Everyone enjoys games in the lounge, and is excited in some events. When I joined MSRA, I felt a big energy from interns, which probably supports the tremendous productivity in MSRA. I think Japanese students are more shy and quiet, of course, it depends on person.
7) Share us some experience in successful research based on your own experience? What do you think is the most important/difficult?
I think there are some steps in a research, and what is important changes for a step we are in. In deciding a research topic, it is good to discuss, discuss, and discuss many candidate topics with someone. Actually, I decided my topics in my internship by discussing them with my mentor almost every day. In developing a method, trial and error seems effective rather than thinking about one method deeply.
（Interviewer：Yu Cheng，WIT Group Intern）