Minkyung Shin Department of Anatomy, Keio University Graduate School of Medicine
After completing her master’s degree in Korea, Minkyung Shin entered the Keio University Graduate School of Medicine on a national scholarship provided by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). We sat down with Minkyung to find out what brought her to Keio.
Choosing MEXT Scholarships
Q: What interested you in Japan, and Keio University in particular?
“I was interested in neural stem cells, and after looking into a few different universities I chose Keio, specifically Professor Nakajima’s lab in the Department of Anatomy. I was impressed by their achievements, and felt that a place like Professor Nakajima’s lab would allow me to do the research I wanted to do. I also looked into other schools in Japan and the United States, reading and comparing research papers from the past few years. Contact with the head professor of a lab is important when applying to doctoral programs, so I was thrilled to receive an almost immediate response from Keio University.”
Q: How did you find out about MEXT scholarships?
“At first I didn’t know anything about them, but a friend mentioned them to me, and I was able to get all kinds of info from the Embassy of Japan website.”
Q: Did you have any trouble when applying?
“Well, I had a hard time with the Japanese language. I only started studying about 6 months before coming here. That was definitely not enough time [laughs]. But all of my meetings and research are in English, so that has been totally fine. In the everyday stuff though, I still struggle with Japanese a little bit.”
Focusing on What Lies Ahead in Research
“After being enrolled for one year as a research student, I took an exam in my second year to officially get on the path to my PhD. I spend a lot of time in the lab these days, usually arriving around 10 a.m. and working well into the night. We sometimes go to Kyoto or Kobe for conferences, and that’s when I can usually catch my breath and catch up on sleep. But life in Tokyo is really not so tough, and there are tons of great restaurants, including Korean, which makes it a great city to live in.”
Q: How would you describe the atmosphere of the lab?
“I think the lab really values personal connections. Everyone from researchers to professors are so nice and we’re able to communicate without any trouble. The facilities themselves are wonderful, and there is lots of thought-provoking research being done in neural stem cells, which is the field I’m most interested in. I really hope that our work will eventually reach the clinical application stage.”
Q: Do you have anything to say about Keio University that might interest students who are considering studying abroad?
“Well I must say that after trying it myself, I think studying abroad is great. I feel like I live a much richer life now. There's so much you would never be able to experience without leaving your home country, and I feel that the opportunities to learn about my field of research have increased dramatically. In that sense, I think studying abroad is very important. Keio University provides a very free atmosphere for studying, and the professors are all doing world-class research, which is very inspiring and motivating for me. I feel right at home at Keio, and plan to use that inspiration to keep working hard and complete my research paper.”