SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

LI Dian “My Study Abroad supported by my partner.”

This Spring, I will start my new life after finishing seven years of training in the doctoral course. I spent ten years in Japan studying abroad and like to look back on these ten years.


I came to Japan at the age of six. I moved to Osaka from Beijing because of my parents’ job and lived for two years in Osaka. I remember my homeroom teacher in my elementary school learned Chinese to communicate with my parent well and my classmates were kind to me. So, I wanted to come again to Japan when I left Japan.


Thirteen years later, I could make my second visit to Japan in 2011 spring, just after the Great East Japan earthquake. As an undergraduate in biology, I came to Yokohama for an exchange program. I lived in a foreign country by myself for the first time fearing aftershocks of the earthquake. But I could spend fulfilling days due to interesting classes and practices. I had a chance to visit a laboratory to which I belong now an introduce my teacher, and they accepted me luckily after the doctoral course.   


After graduating from the university in Beijing, I started my new life in Tokyo in 2014 spring. I did not expect to spend nine years at Keio University. As the doctoral course was not so difficult, I kept taking the usual lessons and used my remaining time for experiments. Though there were challenging projects, those projects went smoothly and I was getting good results. As I could enjoy getting data from brushing up way of experiments, two years have passed in the blink of an eye.  


I proceeded to the doctoral course without hesitation because I liked to pursue an academic path. However, there were various changes. Project did not go smoothly because experiments did not go well. I could not get good any results despite my repeated tries and errors. The balance of my lifeworks began to collapse when my good seniors, who have taught me about experiments, graduated. When I made my research presentation, severe designations aggravated me further. There was a time when I could not do anything by the reason that research and personal relationships were unpromising. I got sick. I could not get out of bed in the morning and could not go to the research laboratory.


In such situations, it was my husband that supported me emotionally. He came from China and stayed together until I got over. I took time to recover and started new project from scratch changing the way of research. It was the third year of my doctoral course and made up my mind to enjoy my research life. My husband resigned from his job in China and started his research doctoral course as new research life in Japan at the same research laboratory.


This March, we completed our research work taking four years and obtained a Ph.D. During these four years, everything did not go well smoothly as mentioned above. I encountered problems almost every day and got setbacks sometimes. I realized it is important that we keep the balance of our hearts calm to support our hearts in overcoming difficulties, and not mind little things around us. Usually, emotional support in our daily life would be family. But it will not cover its works. I feel emotional support both in daily life and work are necessary equally. I could overcome my difficulties with my partner’s support who understood both in private life and work.   


Another important thing that I keep in mind is I do not care for little things in daily life using unnecessary energy. It will be a waste of time and energy to have hope and fear alternately for every result of the research. We cannot be depressed by any news or SNS information. It will be efficient to analyze everything logically, not emotionally. When I use my energy too much, I will be tired the next day. So, I understand it is effective to keep my condition at a certain level suppressing a waste of my energy.

I may be said to be “not expressive”. But I do not care about it.    


I feel now that I have been blessed with help from a lot of people. I experienced both successes and failures. However, such experiences lead me to my growth. So, I like to challenge myself with immediate projects without forgetting to feel gratitude.    



SGRA Kawaraban 732 in Japanese (Original)



LI Dian / 2021 Raccoon, Studying at Graduate School of Medicine, Keio University,  


Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Sabina Koirala