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    Posted March 15, 2014 by
    leibeckj
    Location
    Fukuoka, Japan
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    Making Robots and Memories

     
    Jacob Leibeck is a student at Berea College, a small college in Berea, Ky. Despite having few financial resources, through the aid of scholarships like the U.S. Department of State sponsored Gilman Scholarship, he was able to participate in a year long study abroad program at Kyushu University, in Fukuoka, Japan.

    Jacob says "I have always appreciated Japanese as both a Language and as a culture, taking a Japanese language course every semester despite working on a double major in both Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. While I was doubtful of getting the chance to travel abroad, I found that Kyushu University offered the opportunity to do laboratory research, as well as take a few Computer Science related courses. I immediately saw this to be a huge advantage. My college is very small, so research opportunities are often few and far between. On the other hand, Kyushu University is renowned for its incredible robotics laboratories. I went through the long arduous process to study abroad, and to make a long story short, I find myself in Japan at this very hour."

    "My research is everything I dreamed it to be." commented Jacob. "I work in a massive ten story building in the mountains of Kyushu, tinkering away complex robots and vision systems. It's truly unlike any opportunity I would have had if I had stayed at my university." Jacob is a research student at Kurazume Computer Vision Laboratory, where he works side by side with other Japanese students to make new and interesting breakthroughs.

    "We all really have to work together. While it can be difficult being the only native English speaker in the lab, I know enough Japanese to get my point across. Despite a bit of a language barrier, they treat me like one of their own here. I help them correct their English presentations and papers, and they help me improve my Japanese. It's just a great atmosphere."

    Of course, Jacob doesn't just live at his laboratory. Through his program abroad, he has also had many amazing cultural opportunities. Here's what he had to say about living abroad:

    "I think that study abroad is super important, because it places you in a completely different scenario. I feel like attending the same university for four years kind of limits your perspective. What's new to you as a Freshman quickly becomes old, and sadly, stays that way for a long time.

    Travel abroad is completely the opposite. While it certainly can be challenging, it teaches you to embrace what's new, and to make the best of it. I've had to do so many things for myself, and I just feel like I can take on the world when I get back. Once you do anything in a different language, you have this reassurance that there's no way in could be harder in your own language. I really feel ready for life after education."

    When Jacob returns from his study abroad, he plans to finish his degree and attend graduate school for Robotics or Computer Vision. If you are interested in learning more about Jacob and his research, please visit his website at www.leibeck.tk, or his Youtube channel, where he regularly posts videos about his research and Japan.
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