Introduction to Ryan Moran, Studying in Tokyo

Hello all!  My name is Ryan Moran and I received a Fulbright IIE graduate research fellowship to conduct dissertation research in Tokyo, Japan, during the 2011-2012 academic year.  Zoe has asked me to write a blog post or two in order to highlight the wonderful experiences that UCSD students can have through Fulbright.

Overall, this has been a really fantastic experience.  I got married right before coming to Japan and thus have been lucky in that my wife has also been able to be here in Tokyo with me.  Although each country’s Fulbright committee offers different kinds of benefits, the Japan-US Fulbright Program offers support for one’s spouse and/or any dependents one might have.  As a fellow graduate student, she has used this time to work on her dissertation while also exploring parts of Tokyo.  Although my research is my first priority, we have also tried to immerse ourselves in some of the various cultural offerings available in the Tokyo area.  These have included a trip to watch sumo, the annual Nippon Craft Beer Festival, and a weekend trip to the hot-springs town Hakone.

The people who administer Fulbright in Japan have been incredibly helpful.  When I arrived in Japan, I had an introductory meeting with the office staff, my supervisor and the Executive Director of the program.  At the meeting, the Fulbright staff made it very clear that they were interested and invested in my success.  While this is undoubtedly true for all grants, I feel that Fulbright really tries to remove the little worries that I might have so that I can fully concentrate on my research.  Throughout my year, my supervisor has very kindly written letters of introduction that gave me access to libraries and given advice on housing and health matters.  This has allowed me to really focus my energy on the difficult task of collecting the materials that I will need so that I can write my dissertation.

Although research can feel draining, I think that it is going well.  I gained affiliation at Waseda University in Tokyo and have benefited from their wonderful library.  In the summer before I applied for Fulbright, I received funding from UCSD’s IICAS and Japanese Studies’ Joseph Naiman Graduate Research Fellowship, which allowed me to conduct preliminary research in Tokyo.  This trip allowed me to scout out the archives and figure out where I would prefer to affiliate.  Moreover, I think that this trip really strengthened my application as it allowed me to meet with professors and to get a sense of the materials that would be available at various archives and libraries.  In my grant applications, I was able to confidently state that I knew I could find the materials that I needed for my dissertation.  That trip also provided an opportunity to start thinking about some of the subthemes that I am currently researching.

I hope that everyone has lots of luck with Fulbright this year.  The Fulbright coordinator at UCSD is a really great resource for UCSD students.  Linda Vong, the previous coordinator, was a great help to me and I am sure that Zoe will continue to offer helpful guidance to all potential applicants.