Pre-Departure Resources

Pre-Departure Resources for Japanese Students

This guide has been developed for participants in the Nakatani RIES Fellowship for Japanese Students.  Some of the information contained below may also be helpful for other Japanese students planning to study or do research in the U.S. However, students should consult their individual program for specific pre-departure guidance.

Before You Go: Research Houston & Rice University
Before You Go: Research Host Lab & Research Topic
Before You Go: Passport
Before You Go: U.S. Visa
Before You Go: Enrollment as a Visiting Research Student at Rice
Before You Go: International Health Insurance
Before You Go: Pre-Departure Medical Check & Immunizations
Before You Go: Notifying Bank & Credit Card Companies
Before You Go: U.S. Mobile Phone
Before You Go: What To Pack
Before You Go: Tips from Past Participants

Before You Go: Research Houston & Rice University

One of the first things selected participants should do is learn more about Houston and Rice University by:

  • Reviewing the information on our About Houston & Rice University Page
  • Consulting Google-sensei to learn more about specific topics/places/issues that are of interest to you
  • Purchasing a travel guidebook in Japanese for Houston, Texas, or the U.S. at a Japanese bookstore or online. You can also find English guidebooks in bookstores in the U.S. but most U.S. bookstores do not sell Japanese language books.
  • Reviewing our Life in U.S. page

If you have specific questions about Rice University, Houston, or doing research in the U.S. email our program staff. Once your Alumni Mentor has been assigned, you can also speak with him/her about your questions and ask them for advice on preparing to come to the U.S.

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Before You Go: Research Host Lab & Research Topic

Selected participants will be assigned to their Rice University host lab approximately 1 to 2 months prior to arrival in Houston.  Our research director, Prof. Junichiro Kono, will work directly with selected participants and professors at Rice University to match students with the most appropriate lab based on their academic background, research interests, and host lab availability.  Students should not communicate individually with any Rice University professor during this time. Students should only communicate with Prof. Kono during the matching process.

Once your host lab has been confirmed, students will be asked to send an introductory email to their host professor.  The program will provide students with a template/sample email they can use to for initial contact with their host professor.  You will be able to ask your assigned host professor for more details on the planned project/topic you may be working on and if there are any articles/books or other resources they would recommend you read/review prior to departure.

Students are also strongly encouraged to read articles/books on their planned topic/research area in Japanese as well.  Since you may not yet be familiar with the English language scientific/research vocabulary studying your topic prior to departure in both English and Japanese can be helpful.  You can also ask your professors in Japan if there is a general/introductory textbook on this subject/area that they would recommend you purchase and bring with you to the U.S.  This way, you will have a helpful reference in Japanese that you can refer to while doing research at Rice University.

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Before You Go: Passport

Selected participants will need to quickly submit a scanned copy of the photograph page of their Japanese passport to begin the visa application process at Rice University (see below).  Students who are legal permanent residents of Japan must submit a scanned copy of their Japanese Permanent Residency Card and a scanned copy of their passport.

We strongly recommend that your passport be valid for at valid for at least six months past your date of departure from the U.S. For a program ending on September 22, 2018, we recommend your passport be valid through March 22, 2019. If your passport will expire prior to this date you should renew it now.

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Before You Go: U.S. Visa

All selected participants are required to obtain a J-1 Non Degree Student visa to be able to conduct research at Rice University as a visiting international undergraduate research students. Participants cannot use the visa wavier program to enter the U.S.! Due to U.S. immigration policies and international student regulations, Rice University cannot allow you to do research/participate in the program if you enter the U.S. under the visa waiver program

Rice University will provide selected participants with detailed instructions on the documents they need to submit to the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to begin the visa application process.  Once your documents have been reviewed and approved by OISS, Rice University will issue and mail you the DS-2019 form you will need to use to apply for your J-1 visa and schedule your interview with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in Japan.  Students must individually pay for all related J-1 visa application and SEVIS fees. See our U.S. Visa page for more information.


Upon arrival in the U.S., participants must show their passport and DS-2019 form to the immigration officer at their arrival airport.  This will ensure the immigration officer knows to look for your J-1 visa and process your entry into the U.S. under your visa.  More information on the process of clearing immigration and customs upon arrival in the U.S. will be sent to participants prior to departure.

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Before You Go: Enrollment as a Visiting Research Student at Rice

All participants in the program must be enrolled as a visiting research student through Rice University’s Office of the Registrar.  Detailed instructions on this process will be provided to selected participants in the spring.

After your visiting student enrollment has been processed by the Registrar's office you will receive an email from Rice University with information on your Net ID and Password.  You will need to visit the Office of Information Technology website to activate your Net ID and Password prior to your arrival at Rice University.  You will receive instructions on how to do this in Canvas.  

It is important you write down your Net ID and password and keep it in a safe place. You may need to use this Net ID and password to login to certain online services while you are at Rice. For example,  to search and download PDFs of journal articles via Fondren Library

Upon successful completion of the program, participants will receive 3 research credits from Rice University. All application, tuition, and enrollment fees are paid for by the program.  Participants will receive a letter grade for this course and will be able to request a Rice University transcript showing their enrollment in the course and course grade. Participants who plan to apply to other programs or graduate schools in the U.S. are strongly encouraged to (and may be required) to submit a copy of their Rice University transcript with their application to any future U.S.-based program they apply to.

Requesting Transcripts: Alumni who would like to request a Rice University transcript, visit the Office of the Registrar website and follow the instructions under 'How To Request' to use the National Student Clearninghouse Transcript Ordering Center.

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Before You Go: International Health Insurance

All J-1 visa holders in the U.S. are required to have international health insurance that meets the minimum federal requirements for the duration of their stay in the U.S.  The Nakatani RIES Program will purchase and provide students with international health insurance that meets all the required minimum coverage levels.  Insurance cards and policy overviews for your international health insurance will be provided to participants at the Departure Orientation in July.

For more on health insurance and medical care in the U.S. see our Medical & Health Resources page.

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Before You Go: Pre-Departure Medical Check & Immunizations

Prior to departure, it is very important to ensure that you are in good health and have adequate supplies of any prescription medication, contacts, etc. that you may need while in the U.S.  We strongly encourage all students to visit their health care providers 2 – 3 months prior to departure.  It will be much easier, cheaper, and more convenient for you to take care of any health/medical needs while still in Japan. Student should schedule pre-departure health check-ups with the following, as applicable for your individual medical needs.

Japanese students may also find it helpful to review the Centers for Disease Control Information for Traveler’s to the U.S. website.

Primary Care Doctor: Schedule a general medical visit/annual exam to ensure that you are in good health overall. If you have any underlying medical conditions or health concerns, let your doctor know you will be doing research abroad in the U.S. for six weeks and ask them for any advice/suggestions relevant to your individual medical needs.

General Immunizations: There are no specific immunizations required to enter the U.S.  It is recommended that all general/routine immunizations be up to date.

Meningococcal Vaccination: Texas state law requires that all entering university students (including visiting international students) be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis if you are under the age of 22 as of the first day of classes/your program. If you are 21 or younger as of the start date of this program you are required to show proof of vaccination for bacterial meningitis as part of the application/registration process with the Office of the Registrar.  If you are 22 or older as of the start date of the program this requirement does not apply.  More information will be sent in the spring to selected participants who will be 21 or younger as of the program start date.

Dentist: Dental care coverage IS NOT PROVIDED by the international health insurance in the U.S.!  Dental care is very, very expensive in the U.S. so students are strongly encouraged to visit their dentist prior to departure for an annual exam and to address any dental care needs before you leave Japan.

Eye Doctor: Eye care coverage (exams, glasses, contacts) IS NOT PROVIDED by the international health insurance in the U.S.! Eye care is very, very expensive in the U.S. so students are strongly encouraged to visit their eye doctor prior to departure for an annual exam, new glasses, and/or to purchase extra contacts to bring with you.

  • We also STRONGLY RECOMMEND students bring a back-up pair of glasses and extra contacts with them to the U.S.  If your glasses/contacts are lost or damaged in the U.S. it can be very expensive to replace them.  Bring an extra, older pair of glasses with you to use just in case. 

If you have any food allergies, dietary restrictions, or serious medical issues we strongly encourage you to order Japanese-English food translation cards from Select Wisely.  These can be very helpful to show the doctor/nurse, waiter/waitress or clerk at the grocery store so they clearly understand what you cannot eat and can give you advice on what is best.  If you are having an allergic reaction you can show this card so that those around you know how best to help.  Carry this card in your wallet/pocket at all times so it is easily available. 

Mental/Behavioral Health Provider: If you regularly see a therapist or any other behavioral healthcare provider we strongly recommend you schedule an appointment with them approximately 2 months prior to departure.  Discuss your plans to do research abroad in the U.S. with them and ask them for any advice/suggestions relevant to your individual medical needs.

See the section on Resiliency and Mental Well-Being Abroad on our Medical Resources in the U.S. page. 

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Before You Go: Notifying Bank & Credit Card Companies

Prior to departure it is very important you call your bank and/or credit card companies to find out if you can use your debit/credit cards in the U.S. and what fees might be charged for using your cards abroad.  Let them know you will be traveling in the U.S. and the start and end date of your trip.  Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • Can you use your Japanese debit/credit card abroad?  If yes, what international fees will be charged for using your debit/credit card abroad?
  • Can you withdraw month from your Japanese bank account from a U.S. ATM?
  • Is there a daily limit on how much money you can withdraw via an ATM while abroad from your Japanese bank account?
    • Note: If your debit/credit card PIN number starts with a 0, ask if you can change this as some international ATMS might not accept PIN starting with a 0.
  • If my Japanese debit/credit card is lost or stolen, how can I get a replacement card while I am in the U.S.?

Use of Cash/Debit/Credit Cards in the U.S. The U.S. is a card-based society and people tend to carry very little cash with them on a day-to-day basis.  Most people pay for purchases using a credit or debit card whether they are small or large. If you plan to use Uber/Lyft you will need a credit or debit card number to program into your profile in the app.  See the information on Ride Sharing Services in the Public Transportation section of our Life in the U.S. page. 

If you prefer to use cash, that should not be a problem as cash is almost always accepted except in some rare instances where they may only take credit or debit cards.  However, as a general rule you can use a debit/credit card almost anywhere in the U.S. today and this is what most people use for day-to-day purchases.

Personal Funds: You will need to decide how much money you want to bring with you to the U.S. for costs not paid for by the program/personal expenses.  See our Program Funding page for more information. You can choose to:

  • Bring all of the money you plan to use with you in cash.
    • You can exchange JPY for USD at the airport in Japan prior to departure or in the international arrival terminal of most U.S. airports. Be very careful with your cash though to ensure it is not lost or stolen.
  • Bring $100-$200 with you in cash and then plan to withdraw additional funds in USD via an ATM while in the U.S. 
    • If you choose this option, call your bank in advance so you are 100% sure your ATM card will work in the U.S. and what fees you may be charged for withdrawing money in USD.
  • Bring $100-$200 with you in cash and put the rest of your personal funds on a U.S. Pre-Paid Money/Credit Card. 
    • Some students may prefer to activate a Pre-Paid International Money card to use in the U.S.  Typically, these cards allow you to add money on your card in advance, add more money online if needed, and have a replacement card sent to you if lost or stolen. This is also a helpful way to budget, as you only add as much money as you plan to use in the U.S. on this card.  Some options include:

Using a pre-paid money/credit card while in the U.S. can be a helpful way to budget for your personal spending.  Simply sign up for your preferred card, add money to it before you go, and then you can use like a regular credit/debit card in the U.S.  Some cards have options where you can transfer/add more money to your card online through a direct link to your Japanese bank account.  These cards also typically have lower or no transcription fees and may not charge ATM withdrawal fees.   If you lose your card or it is stolen you should be able to contact the company and ask them to cancel your existing card and send you a new card.  

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Before You Go: U.S. Mobile Phone

Immediately prior to departure from Japan, the Nakatani Foundation will loan selected participants a U.S. mobile phone and phone number to be used for the duration of your stay in the U.S.  This will enable you to keep in regular contact with the U.S.-based program staff, your host lab, and to be used in case of emergency.

Domestic Use Only: This phone is only to be used to make calls within the U.S.  You should not use this phone to make international calls to Japan unless it is an emergency situation.  Students will be charged by the Nakatani Foundation for any excessive phone usage fees/international calling fees beyond normal, expected use.

Data: This phone plan will also include limited data so, if wi-fi is not available, you will still be able to use Google maps or other data-based apps.  Data on this phone is limited though, so whenever possible students should use wi-fi.

Return of Phone in Good Condition: Students will be required to return the phone to the Nakatani Foundation at the end of the program in good working order.  Students will be charged for any lost or damaged phones.

Japanese Mobile Phone: If you plan to bring your Japanese mobile phone with you, be sure you call your phone company and ask them what the cost will be to make calls, send texts, or use data in the U.S. on your Japanese cell phone plans. Using your Japanese cell phone abroad can be very expensive, we strongly encourage students to turn the data/roaming off on your Japanese phone and only use your Japanese phone when you are on wi-fi; which is widely available in the U.S.

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Before You Go: What To Pack

Luggage: We strongly recommend students only bring 1 checked suitcase with them to the U.S. Though international flights typically allow 2, free checked pieces of luggage if you bring 2 full suitcases with you to the U.S. where will you pack your omiyage/souvenirs when you return to Japan?  Instead, just bring 1 checked suitcase when you come to the U.S.  Pack an empty duffel bag in your suitcase, then, when you return to Japan, you can pack your clothing and non-fragile items in the duffel bag and have plenty of room for omiyage/souvenirs in your suitcase.  It is also important that students be aware of all airline weight/size limitations for checked and carry-on luggage. Carefully consult the website of the airline your international flight has been booked on to be sure your checked and carry-on luggage comply with their baggage policies.

Carry-on Bag:  Pack all important documents, money/credit cards, laptop/electronics, and medication in your  carry-on luggage. Other things to pack in your carry-on include:

  • DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT AND DS-2019!  These documents must be in your carry-on luggage so you can present them to the immigration officer upon arrival in the U.S.
  • You may also want to bring a warm sweater/jacket/socks/slippers to wear on the plane as it can be very cold. On international, flights you will be provided with a light blanket and small pillow but these may not be warm/comfortable enough.  Some travelers prefer to bring their own travel blankets/pillows.  (On domestic flights in the U.S. blankets and pillows are not provided).
  • If you are not accustomed to sitting for very long distances, you may want to wear a pair of compression socks to prevent swelling in your legs/feet.
  • Noise cancelling headphones and an eye mask can also be helpful so you can rest/sleep even if it is loud or very bright near your seat for some reason.
  • It is also helpful to stay well-hydrated on the long plane rides.  This will help with jet lag.  Try to avoid caffeinated/alcoholic beverages and bring a large, empty water bottle that you can fill up at a water fountain past security so you can have plenty to drink throughout the long flight.
Miki Matsumoto working in the lab. Note the long sleeves and pants. This is for safety and also because buildings are heavily air conditioned in the U.S. and can be very cold.

Clothing:  In general, you should plan to bring 2 weeks worth of clothing to the U.S. You will have access to coin-operated laundry at the hotel and can easily wash/dry clothes as needed. Bring a wardrobe that can be easily mixed and matched.

  • Air Conditioning:  Air conditioning is very, very cold in all buildings in the U.S. and on planes.  You should wear/bring a sweater/light jacket/scarf with you at all times as even if it is very hot outside it may be very, very cold indoors. Trust us on this….. it is much, much colder indoors due to the heavy A/C than you expect.
  • Casual Attire: Attire in the U.S., particularly on university campuses, tends to be more casual than in Japan.  At Rice University you will see most student (and often faculty members too) dressed in jeans/pants/shorts and t-shirts/casual tops/sweaters on a day-to-day basis.
  • Dress Attire: You should bring 1-2 nice outfits to wear at the poster session and for any events/activities that may be more formal in nature such as some of our site visits in Washington, DC.  This does not have to be a full-suit.  Rather, it can be a nice pair of pants and a button-down/polo shirt/sweater for mean (with or without tie) and for women a nice pair of pants/skirt and a nice shirt/blouse/sweater. If you prefer to bring/wear a full suit that is fine too.
  • Shoes: Most research labs will require that you wear close-toed shoes when working in the lab.  This means that in the research lab you cannot wear sandals or flip-flops.  For all other activities/events any type of shoe is okay (sneakers, sandals, crocs, etc.).   Dark colored shoes may be more versatile as the can be dressed up or down depending on the outfit you are wearing.  It will be hot and humid in Houston in August-September so be sure that whatever shoes you bring are breathable, comfortable, and will not give you blisters as your feet will probably get hot/sweaty. Most female students in the U.S. do not wear heels on a day-to-day basis; these are usually only worn for going-out/special occasions though you may see female staff members wearing heals more often.
  • Slippers: In the U.S., we typically do not take our shoes off indoors in offices or labs.  Some people may take their shoes off indoors at home, but not every family does this. The hotel will not provide slippers.  If you prefer to take your shoes inside, you should bring your own pair of slippers.
  • Jackets/Rain Gear: It can rain unexpectedly, and sometimes very heavily,  in Houston at any time Sometimes the rain is very heavy.  You can bring a light-weight rain coat but since it is so hot and humid in Houston in August-September this may not be very comfortable to wear.  Some students find it is helpful to have rain galoshes/boots to put on when they have to walk across campus in the rain so that their regular shoes/socks do not get wet.
  • Hat/Sunglasses/Sunscreen/Bug Repellant: It is very common for people to wear sunglasses in the U.S. when outdoors or driving.  Houston is much closer to the equator than Japan, and therefore the sun is very strong/bright.  Student who do not bring sunglasses with them, usually end up buying a pair soon after arriving.  Hats are less commonly worn than in Japan/Asia and you may have a hard time finding a sunhat that is the right size.  Bring a hat with you if you like to wear one.  You can easily buy sunscreen at any department/home-goods store (such as the nearby Target), pharmacy, or grocery store but the brand names, formulations, and consistency may be different from what you use in Japan.  Most students find it is helpful to bring their favorite/preferred brand of sunscreen with them.  Also, since Houston does not have a very cold winter, there are always mosquitos year-round so bug repellent can also be helpful.  Bug repellent wipes that you can carry in your bag/purse are particularly helpful as these won't be as likely to leak in your bag. 

Explaining my research to Prof. Andrew Meade ~ Ryota Sasaki


Note the sunglasses! It was really hot and sunny today and the student's who didn't wear sunglasses were squinting.

Toiletries & Personal Care Items: Hotels in the U.S. typically only provide a small bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and a small bar of soap, and will include a hair dryer. You must pack your own face wash, toothbrush/toothpaste, razors, combs/brush, deodorant, etc.  when staying at a hotel. You can buy any toiletry/personal care item you need at nearby home-goods/department stores (such as Target), pharmacies, or grocery stores.  There are many, many options available in the U.S. however brand names and formulations may be different from in Japan.  If you have a strong preference for a certain type of shampoo/face wash/etc. bring enough with you from Japan to use while you are in the U.S. Female students are encouraged to bring an adequate supply of any feminine hygiene products they may need (e.g. tampons/pads) as the brands available in the U.S. may be different from what you prefer using in Japan. At the end of the program, you can simply throw out the empty/unused bottles and have extra room in your luggage on the way back to Japan.   As you use these toiletries up, you can throw away the bottles and have extra room in your luggage for omiyage/souvenirs.  If you run out or forget to pack something though do not worry – you can take the hotel shuttle to a nearby grocery store or Target and purchase anything you might need.


Personal Medical/First-Aid Kit:  If you take any prescription medication, be sure to get an adequate supply from your doctor prior to departure and pack this in your carry-on luggage. We also strongly recommend that you bring a small first-aid kit with common, over-the-counter (OTC) medication from Japan that you can use if needed while you are in the U.S. (OTC medication is medication you can purchase at a pharmacy or grocery store without a doctor's written prescription.) For example, medicine for headaches or if you are sore from playing sports or medicine for a slight cold or allergies.  You can purchase OTC medication in the U.S., but the brand names, dosages, and formulations will be different from what you are used to using in Japan.  When you are not feeling well,  it can be helpful to have your own, preferred type of Japanese medicine with you at the hotel room to take as needed.  It is also helpful to include a small scissors, tweezers, band-aids, gauze itch cream/ointments (for mosquitos), as well. Students should also bring their own, preferred method of protection/birth control if there is any chance you may be sexually active while abroad.  For ideas of what you should include in your first-aid kit see the Johns Hopkins University Travelers First Aid Kit website. If your first-aid kit includes a scissors or tweezers it should be packed in your checked luggage.

  • Face/Sickness Masks: These are not commonly worn in the U.S.  They are typically only used by doctors during surgery (in the U.S. they are most commonly known as 'surgical masks') or by patients whose immune systems are compromised due to a life-threatening illness (e.g. people undergoing chemotherapy). If you like to wear face/sickness masks when you are ill or have allergies you should bring these with you from Japan as it will be difficult to find them for sale in Houston.   However, if you wear sickness/allergy masks out in public you may receive odd looks or very concerned questions about your health because people may assume you are seriously ill.  For more, see Staying Healthy in the U.S. 

Food/Cooking Supplies:  The U.S. does not use the metric system for cooking/recipes.  If you have Japanese recipes you would like to prepare, you will have to convert from the metric system or you can bring metric measuring cups/spoons with you.  You can buy most any type of food/ingredient in the U.S. though you may have to visit one of Houston's two Japanese groceries stores to find certain Japanese ingredients.  At major grocery stores, you will find a small selection of Japanese ingredients though many more Chinese or Vietnamese ingredients.  Hotels in the U.S. do not provide electric tea kettles or rice cookers.  If you like to use these appliances, plan to buy an inexpensive tea kettle or rice cooker upon arrival in the U.S. at Target, a nearby home-goods/department store.  For more, see our Food in the U.S. page.

  • Re-usable Water Bottle/Tea Thermos:  One of the big differences between Japan and the U.S is the availability and options in vending machines.  In the U.S., vending machines are much less common and, typically, only contain cold soda (e.g. Coca-Cola/Pepsi) or bottled water.  You will not be able to find unsweetened tea, coffee, hot beverages, or many of the other drinks you are used to easily purchasing at vending machines in Japan. Also, the cost of soda/water from a vending machine can be quite high. Instead, most students in the U.S. carry a re-usable water bottle and simply re-fill their water bottle throughout the day at water fountains which can be found in almost every building (usually near the restrooms).  Most office buildings/labs in the U.S. will have a coffee-maker (like your hotel room) but will not have a hot water kettle or tea bags. If there are many Asian students in your lab, there may be a hot water kettle/tea bag but this varies by group. If you like to drink hot tea throughout the day, you should bring your own re-usable tea thermos.  A wide variety of tea bags are sold at all grocery stores and you can buy loose tea at speciality tea shops in Houston.

Laptop:  Participants are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop with them to the U.S. that you can use for research and personal use. It is very important to be sure you back-up your data!  Bring an external hard drive with you and use it regularly.  That way, if your computer is broken or stolen you will not lose all of your data/work.  This is especially important if your laptop has important papers, data/work from your home university in Japan too.  Every year there is at least one student who encounters computer problems while abroad – be prepared by starting and maintaining good data back-up habits even before you leave Japan!

Most research labs will not provide students with a computer to use in their lab/office.  Rather, they may give you access to their shared/network drive so that you can easily save files to the lab server and share with your colleagues. There is free wi-fi access at Rice University and you will also be able to login to the Rice University Faculty/Student/Staff internet service with the NetID and Password you will be given prior to arrival at Rice University.  More information on setting up your NetID and Password will be sent to students about 1 – 2 months prior to arrival.  Your NetID and password will also allow you to login to a number of campus services/resources including:

  • Japanese Language Textbooks on your Research Topic:  It can also be very helpful to bring an introductory Japanese language textbook on your research field/topic with you from Japan.  Even if it is heavy, it will be an invaluable resource for you to refer to as you may be unfamiliar with what the English terms/vocabulary is in the lab or for your topic.   When in doubt, you can refer to the Japanese language textbook for assistance and then consult Google-sensei for the appropriate English translation.  
  • Fondern Library: Use the 'Search Fondren Library' box to enter in the article/journal name to search the university holdings.  You can download full PDFs of many articles, but you will be required to enter in your NetID and password to access the PDF.  As soon as your NetID/password has been set up (typically ~2 weeks – 1 month prior to arrival) you can access library resources remotely – even while still in Japan.
  • Rice University IT Software:   There are some software packages that are available for download to any Rice University student, faculty, or staff computer.  Click here for the current student software list.  You should wait to download any software until after you arrival at Rice University as, if you have any questions or technical difficulties, you can then visit the Computer HelpDesk in Mudd Lab in person for assistance.
  • External Hard Drive:  In addition to online data back-up, you may want to bring an external hard drive. If you will be taking a large number of high-resolution digital photos or would like to save large amounts of data/articles an external hard drive can be helpful.  This also helps ensure that your laptop speed/processing is not slowed down too much by a lot of large size files.  
  • Plug Adapter:  Two-prong Japanese style plugs will fit into U.S. outlets. You should not need plug adapter but can bring one if you like.  If you purchase any electronic or appliance in the U.S. that has a three-prong plug and bring it back to Japan, you may need to use a three-prong to two-prong plug adapter.  See Worldwide Plug and Socket Types for more information. 

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Before You Go: Tips From Past Participants

Preparing for Research and Life in the U.S. 

  • "I regret that I did not read review papers seriously in advance. They give you a big picture of the specific research area that your lab is working on. Thus, as least you should read them. Furthermore, you should remember technical terms in your field. I knew the technical terms in biology so I had little trouble as for the scientific communication, but if you do not know, you should memorize them. Otherwise, it will be more difficult for you to conduct a research and to make a poster in English."
  • "I thought I wish I have more information about politics. I had a lot of chance to hear about politics. But I couldn’t understand words and backgrounds."
  • "I wish I had known more about how to contact in English on email. I was sometimes surprised at the English way of sending email because their message was really direct and I was sometimes upset."
    • English is a very direct language and can be even more direct sounding via email. For more, see Communication and Directness in the U.S. on our Life in the U.S. page."I had a difficulty in communicating with using technical terms so I highly recommend you to learn the basic technical terms in your field in English. Before I went to U.S., my professor at Rice sent me article relating to the project. This was the first time to read a full article and it took a lot of time to read through it. After knowing the way to read article my mentor at Rice and my seniors at my university practiced, I found that I took mistakes. I concentrated on reading sentences one by one but they are mainly saw figures to understand articles. They let me know figures are the core of articles."


  • "I think you do not need to bring much from Japan because you can buy almost anything from daily stuffs to food in U.S. In addition, you will buy souvenirs in U.S. so you had better to have some space to your baggage when you leave Japan. In fact, the baggage of the most of members were overweight when we got on the plane to return and we struggled with packing."
  • "I recommend future participants bring business cards, compression socks (to wear on the long plane ride) and leave-in conditioner."
  • "If your luggage is not overweight, I recommend to bring miso soup with you. Miso soup is the one thing that I missed in the U.S."

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