2012 April Enrollment

Justin Nawrocki

Name Justin Nawrocki
Enrolled year 2012
Hometown (City) Boston (Country) USA
Study Area or concentration Transportation and Urban Planning
Laboratory Urban and Regional Planning
University or college of your undergraduate Allegheny College

What did you study or major in undergrad?

Lab Train Survey.JPGI received my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Since human activity greatly affects the natural environment, I am confident that my education in urban planning will help lessen human impact on our world.

Do you have any working experience before starting this Master’s Program?

I worked for a large educational textbook publisher in Boston, MA, as an English instructor on the Japanese government’s JET Programme, and finally in the economics department at the Consulate General of Japan in Boston. My broad work experience makes my experience pretty different from many students here, but I think it has helped me focus better on learning. My experience working in Japanese institutions also provided an easier transition into life in Kyoto.

Why Kyoto University?

Kyoto University is internationally-recognized for its high-quality education and research. Its professors and students are doing some truly astounding research, a fact of which I am reminded every day when I walk around campus or read the news. Before applying to Kyoto University I did a great deal of research of other schools, but KU, and especially my laboratory, were the best fit for me.

What is a typical day at Kyoto University like?

I like to keep my schedule relatively regular. I catch the bus or train to the Katsura campus every morning, then have classes and spend my other time in my lab, working on my thesis topic. But all work can get tiring, so I catch lunch with friends, or sometimes play soccer with my labmates at a nearby park. It’s a great way to break up the day and refocus the mind.

Which is your favorite class?

There is a wide array of classes to choose from here, but if I had to choose I would say that G30’s Structural Design class was very interesting for me. Learning not only the underlying mechanics behind structural engineering but also the concerns for structural aesthetics and community function was something I didn’t expect to do in an engineering course.

What is life in Kyoto like?

Enjoying A Kyoto Shrine.jpgI lived in the Tokyo area for three years on the JET Programme, so living in Kyoto can sometimes feel like the “slow life.” I love Tokyo, but I also love Kyoto for very different reasons. Historical Japanese culture is still alive and well here, and it’s pretty easy to see a Maiko (Kyoto Geisha) just about every week if you’re out in the town. Also, since Kyoto is surrounded by mountains you can see beautiful scenery from just about anywhere. I love getting out into the outdoors, and Kyoto is a great place for that.

What do you do in your spare time?

I do spend a lot of time on my research, but when I’m not doing that I like to go out with friends and find new places to eat. I also like going hiking in the surrounding mountains, or sitting and having a drink by the river, or volunteering in urban and natural area improvement organizations. Further afield, I like to visit Tokyo or any of the other amazing places that are easily accessible by Japan’s world-class rail system.

Where do you live now?

I live near Kyoto University’s Yoshida campus. Many of my friends are in other departments, so they all live near Yoshida. The commute to Katsura campus is not particularly short, but it is worthwhile for me to live more toward the center of Kyoto. Single living is also very cheap in the area, and in Japan in general. It’s so much cheaper than back home!

Do you receive any scholarship?

I am a lucky recipient of the Japanese government’s Monbukagakusho scholarship. I feel very glad to have had this opportunity to study in Japan at such a prestigious school, a chance I may not have had without the scholarship.

What do you want/plan to do after you graduate?

I’ll be heading back to the United States to get married and then work in the field of public transportation planning there. The United States is notorious for having poor public transportation, and I hope that my experience in Japan, with its enviable transit system, will enable me to contribute to the modernization of American transit systems.

Any message for prospective applicants for last?

Kyoto and the University are an excellent next step on the path to a more international, fulfilling career. If you take the time to explore the wonderful things around you, while also dedicating yourself to both work and play, you will have the experience of a lifetime. Make effort to learn Japanese while you can, for your life in Kyoto and Japan will be richer for it. Good luck, and maybe I’ll see you next year!

Lab Baseball Tournament.jpg