Prospective Students

International students interview

Sri Pragna Pendem

Pragna is a Materials Science graduate from Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. She is a member of Oikawa Laboratory and going to pursue Masters (JICA Scholar) from April 2019. Her Research interests include Steels and other High Strength Materials.

Ticket to the biggest dream in my life

My academic journey as a research student at Tohoku University began about half a year ago. Currently, I look forward to the formal start of my master's course in metallurgical engineering at professor Oikawa's lab.

I got to know the university in my senior year at the Indian Institute of Technology (IITH). I was hoping to take post graduate degrees abroad and introduced to Tohoku University through JICA-IITH scholarship. The program is for sponsoring overseas student and quite suitable for me.

At the same time, I received advice from one of professors. He told me that Tohoku University is well known in material engineering, and recommended me the move based on his experience of visiting the institute before. The final factor was the Japanese society. We knew that Japan is the safest country among western states. That was vitally for our family too.

Life in Japan was full of surprises. Temperature, traveling, food, everything was new to me. I was impressed by the local people as well. They were amazingly humble, welcoming and kind to me. Fortunately, I also found the Indian community in Sendai city. For the first month, I suffered from homesick. So, it helped me a lot to settle in.

Likewise, many people supported me to start a new academic challenge.

On the very first day of my coming to the university, the staff of JICA attended me to make sure that everything was OK.

So was true with Professor Oikawa. He suggested some of the thesis available. And I opted for the research on grain boundaries and their angles after secondary recrystallization in steel. That subject made it easier to initiate my research, as I had already studied on steel at IITH.

Once research started, I was very impressed by the academic environment. The standard of research and equipment are even higher than I imagined because the institute is collaborating on many projects with big companies. This situation is not only beneficial for maintaining a high standard of research but also for allowing us to feel engaged and motivated. We can think that we are working to solve real-life issues.

Besides, we got the opportunity to learn Japanese. The program is included in the JICA project in advance, as becoming familiar with Japanese culture is one of the primary objectives of the learnerships.

Overall, I can say that I have been making steady progress to make my dream come true. But I am fully aware that I have been granted solid support from every party around me.

For example, if I were a Japanese undergraduate student and to take a master's course, I have to pass an entrance exam as a first step. I will also be required to have a decent experience in research. But especially regarding the latter, it is difficult for international students to meet. Therefore, Tohoku University accepts us as a kind of interim research student, grants us six months of the preparatory period to fill the academic gap as well as to adjust to the new country and its culture.

Furthermore, we can receive strong support when preparing for the entrance exam. For example, I usually spend the first half of the day for the preparation for it, then switch to research afterword. And needless to say, professors or senior members of the lab always offers me many advise or support. Without these warm helping hands, I would have struggled much.

After finishing my master's course, I am planning to go on to a Ph.D. program. And in the long run, I am hoping to go back to India and teach metallurgical engineering at my home university. I believe many international students have a similar dream. I can recommend this Tohoku University and peaceful Sendai City as the best catalysts for realizing their future goals.

(Conducted 2019, February)