Shortly after commencing my PhD, I was given the opportunity to take up a research placement in Japan working on the development of materials for regenerative medicine. My supervisor has a long standing relationship with Nagoya Institute of Technology (NIT) and a collaboration where students are able to exchange, spending three months on the opposite side of the world!
This has an immense benefit for students from Imperial and from NIT as we are able to gain experience working in very different research groups. Both universities have fantastic facilities so it was really exciting being able to broaden my knowledge of different materials manufacturing and testing techniques. My favourite was learning how to produce fibres on the micro- and nano- scale for wound healing. This technique will be very useful for my project and I am now looking to work with some Masters and PhD students at NIT to publish papers based on our results.
Visiting and collaborating with different research groups is the best way to learn when undertaking a PhD. I would advise any student commencing a PhD to take any such opportunity that arises. It is also an excellent way to travel and really get to experience living in a different country. From meeting sumo wrestlers to eating copious amounts of sushi, Japan was an incredible experience!