Archive for the ‘Studying Abroad’ Category

My Life in Pittsburgh

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Today I will write a little about my life here in Pittsburgh, PA with several pictures. Pittsburgh is the third place for me to live in the U.S. I have just remembered that I wrote a post about my life in the first place (Berkeley, CA), and one about my life in the second place (Palo Alto, CA) before. I have been around in Pittsburgh for approximately seven months since I moved from California last August. This period was really hectic for me to get used to everything, but even so, I have found a couple of things that I like about Pittsburgh.

The first one is that Pittsburgh has a good public transportation system, particularly the bus service provided by the Port Authority of Allegheny County. They have such many bus lines that I can use them for various purposes, including my commute to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Although Stanford University provides shuttle service comparable to the similar one by CMU, I didn’t find such convenience in public bus service around Stanford.

The weather in Pittsburgh is also unexpectedly benign. It is colder in Pittsburgh than in California, of course. We do have some snow in winter, but by and large it has been exceptionally warm this winter. I will show you some pictures of Pittsburgh below.

These days I have been gearing up for the Ph.D. program of the Language Technologies Institute at CMU, which I will be enrolling in this August. While making efforts to prepare for the program, I would like to find more goodness and fun here in Pittsburgh for a change.


The Gates Hillman Complex (GHC) where I am currently working


The GHC building that you can see from the other side of the Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge


The Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh


The Heinz Memorial Chapel close to the Cathedral of Learning


A spacious and gentle slope on campus at Chatham University


A scene in the Pittsburgh downtown area

The commencement at Stanford

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Last Sunday I attended the 120th Stanford Commencement at the Stanford Stadium. This was the first time that I attended a commencement in the U.S. The stadium was filled with students’ families and friends, and I really felt great when standing in the field. The commencement had a hopeful atmosphere along with California’s typical sunny weather.

On the same day, I also attended the Computer Science Departmental diploma ceremony on the lawn of the Gates Building. I received a diploma of Master of Science in computer science. The very moment of the reception was the most impressive to me on that day. I got a little tan with the sunny weather, by the way.

My classes and homework

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

My classes started late last month. It is approximately seven years since I took regular classes at the University of Tokyo. There is a substantial difference in the amount of homework assignments between the two, although I knew this before taking classes. Sometimes they are really hard, but also valuable intellectual excitement.

Arrival at Stanford University

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Yesterday I left UC Berkeley, got on the BART and then the Caltrain, and arrived at Stanford University some time after noon. This move was a short trip for around three hours, but it really exhausted me to take several suitcases. In addition, some offices were closed because my arrival was on Friday afternoon, so I have not yet proceeded with actual preparation, such as getting my student ID card and opening a bank account. Currently, I am staying in on-campus housing for undergraduates as short-term graduate housing. And the other day I was glad to receive a notification purporting that I had been assigned to on-campus housing for graduate students for 2009-2010.

What I was particularly impressed in the move above is that some people around Stanford University kindly volunteered to show me their detailed maps, tell me the best way to my destination, and even give me a ride to my house on campus, although I did not ask them at all. I don’t know why they were so obliging, but it might have something to do with spirit of international volunteerism which has taken root in this country.

Looking back, I have been here around one year and nine months after I made a decision to apply to graduate schools in the United States in November 2007. However, this is just my first step at Stanford University. Starting is of considerable importance to everything, and I will do the best possible to set up my new life, study English and computer science and so forth during the month before my classes start.

Arrival at UC Berkeley

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

After a long flight from Japan, I arrived at UC Berkeley three days ago. I have a lot of things which I want to write about right now, but I have been very busy because my classes have given us many homework assignments. So that’s all for today, and I will write something later on about UC Berkeley, the programs in which I am participating, and so forth.

Summer school

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Although it took a couple of weeks to choose a summer school suitable for me, I have finally made a decision to attend the summer English program at UC Berkeley. More specifically, I will take two courses of the ESL 9 during the session E (7/27 – 8/14): “Grammar and Vocabulary for Written English” and “Oral Communication Skills.”

At first, I wanted to attend the EFS 688 at Stanford University because it seems very intensive and practical for an international graduate student like me. I realized, however, that I would not be able to finish my preparation for the transition to the United States by the beginning date of the program. So I was looking for another school.

While I searched for the summer program, I noticed that there were few programs which met my needs in terms of the duration, tuition and location. In the end, I selected the program at UC Berkeley. According to the website for the program, both teachers for the courses that I will take have broad experience of teaching ESL. I am looking forward to studying English from those teachers.

Acceptance into Stanford University

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The other day I had the pleasure of receiving an email from Stanford University to the effect that I had been admitted to the Masters’ Program in the Computer Science Department beginning Autumn Quarter 2009-2010. I have not written anything about my application on this blog so far, but in fact I applied to some programs of computer science departments at graduate schools in the United States last year. I have been really excited about this result.

Though I have already a master’s degree in Electronic Engineering in Japan, I believe that this masters’ program at Stanford University is quite a good preparation for my long-term goal. Therefore, I made a decision to accept the offer. My family and friends are also very pleased with the admittance, and some of my friends are planning to give me a send-off party.

These days have been very hectic because of some procedures for my transition to the United States. This is the first time that I have experienced studying abroad, and I will prepare for my new life as carefully as possible so as to make a good start this coming September.

Jun Araki