Reflections on the Joint PhD between University of Adelaide and Nagoya University
Anyone looking back at the end of a doctorate program will tell you that is a journey, where you often know where you want to get to , and you think you have some of the tools to get there, but what you learn and how it transforms you in the end are often unpredictable and unexpected. I was privileged to be chosen to do be one of the first “ guinea pigs” , as both my Japanese and Australian supervisors would call me, to the Joint PhD Program between the University of Adelaide and Nagoya University.
Being a foreigner both to Australia and Japan, initially it seemed an extra challenge to do a two country move in the space of 4 years, but I was extremely well received in both countries, being able to experience the culture, food and people. For me, having a Japanese background from my grandparents, meant that living in Japan represented a new connection with my past, my family and also understanding modern Japan. Our family though, experienced some culture shock in this move, specially because my husband and I spoke a basic Japanese. Making friendships with other international students, and engaging with colleagues that were respectful and open to different cultures was essential for feeling welcomed in Japan.
From the research perspective, being in the oldest country in the world, also meant Japan was ideal for a research on frailty in the elderly. Gathering data from older adults from two culturally and environmentally different cities was very valuable for my research, as well as exposure to different lines of work, international conferences and different views on gerontology from Asia and the Pacific. Both teams were open to working in a flexible timeline, and the communication from the beginning was essential for this project to work.
I am extremely thankful to the support team at the International officers in Nagoya as well as in Adelaide that were always ready to help make this possible.