CAS '22

Selene Li

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GRIP: Research in Japan

Program Abroad:

  • Global Research & Internship Program (GRIP): University of Tokyo, Japan

Ask me about...

  • How I managed to thrive in Japan for two months without knowing Japanese

  • Adapting to life in a foreign country

  • Navigating a subway system so complicated that the map looks like a bowl of spaghetti 

  • Balancing work and exploring the country that you are abroad in

  • Learning more than what your internship is supposed to teach you on the surface

My Experience Abroad:

Before going to Tokyo, I thought that I had my future planned out. I thought my path was set in stone and that there wasn't much for me to explore. I couldn't have been more wrong. 

While abroad, I was able to meet many people in my laboratory who are a bit older and have more experience in the field. They were able to give me advice and some perspective on being a pre-med student as well as future paths that I could take. Before arriving in Japan, I had little interest in doing research and was mostly doing the research internship because I was told that it was a good experience and I wanted to travel to Japan. However, after spending time in the lab and getting my own project to work on, I found myself incredibly invested in my research. 

If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever consider getting an MD/PhD or conducting research for a living, I would have told you "no way!" If you ask me that now, I don't think I could give you a definite answer.

Other Highlights:

  • Learning useful Japanese phrases and new mannerisms 

  • Eating incredible cuisine every single day

  • Figuring out what I want to do in the future and seeing new paths open up for me

  • Trying different foods no matter how crazy or strange they may seem at first

  • Experiencing a matsuri (festival) with my lab-mates while wearing yukatas (traditional Japanese clothing)

  • Going to an onsen (hot spring public bath) for the first time

  • Taking spontaneous walks with friends to get to see the city and visit famous locations

On the Penn Abroad Blog:

Changing My Career Outlook

Important Lessons

Return to Penn Abroad Ambassadors