Current Position: iOS Developer, Taiwan
M.S., Computer Science, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, 2010
B.S., Computer Science, Rice University, 2008
Further International Experiences: Tyler received the Institute of International Education's Freeman-Asia Scholarship for the Summer of 2007 to study Mandarin language in Taiwan. He was also awarded a KAUST Fellowship to pursue his graduate studies in Saudi Arabia. Tyler is currently living and working in Taiwan.
Put simply, my time in Japan was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I worked at RIKEN with S. Kawata. He is the head researcher for two labs, so I didn’t work directly under him but under one of his researchers. They both spoke very good English, so I was able to discuss my project and report results fairly easily. The lab was very international, so in some ways my scientific productivity increased at the expense of my daily language experience since the langauge of the lab was not Japanese. RIKEN is a very international environment with researchers from all over; you could learn a lot about what you want to do by touring other labs and talking to the other researchers there. It is in Wakoshi, which is a nice little town about as far from places in Tokyo as anywhere else (45 minutes on the subway).
While in Japan I learned that I don’t really want to do physics or chemistry research. My research was interesting, but I didn’t have the passion for it that I would need if I were to pursue it in graduate school. To figure out what I want to study is an ongoing process for me. I haven’t pursued Japanese language further. However, I can still read katakana and hiragana, and I can still remember how to say a lot of things. I feel that if I were to go traveling in Japan again, I would still be in pretty good shape. Some day I may pursue it again, but for now I’m focusing on my Mandarin.
During the Spring 2007 semester I studied at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology through the Rice University Exchange Program. I was selected as a recipient of an Institute of International Education Freeman-Asia Scholarship to continue my language studies in Taiwan over the summer of 2007. I return to Rice in the fall of 2007 and this spring I have been selected as a delegate to the Rice University 2008 INNOVATE Conference to be held in Vietnam and Singapore this March. Through this program I will be able to study issues relating to globalization and technology within these countries and Asia as a whole. After graduation I’m sure I’ll be back in Asia at some point. I'm planning on going to graduate school to do research in computer science.
Before I left for Japan I wish I had...
Learned katakana and hiragana before I came. It’s just an alphabet, you don’t need intensive language teachers there to help you with it. Also, with katakana especially, it will be immediately useful upon touching down in Japan and will be further strengthened by the constant exposure to it while you are there (billboards, menus, everything).
I also wish I had done some prior research and planning about the places I wanted to visit during my free time. I would have then been able to buy a JR Rail Pass that can only be purchased by foreigners outside of Japan. If there is a place you want to go that you would use one of these passes (a 3-day pass, for example), consider buying it. You can purchase these at most STA Travel offices. This can be quite useful for your weekend trips during your research internship period.
My favorite experience in Japan was...
There are too many to choose from, but I would say that a very significant experience was when I took off alone for a weekend to visit two cities via shinkansen. First I visited a landmark with special significance to me, then I went hiking and onsen’ing. I was alone with only other Japanese to interact with for the entire time. This trip was highly influential in the development of my travel philosophy.