Name: Soshi Mizutani
Hometown: Chiba, Japan
Varsity sport participated in: Men’s Soccer
Study abroad semester and location: 2013 Fall & 2014 Spring, Brock University, Canada
What was the most unexpected thing you encountered during your off-campus study experience?
Taking classes with much older PhD students in classes, but living and hanging out with all the teenage freshmen in a residence. I feel extremely young and old at the same time.
Describe your favorite place in your host city/country and why.
Niagara Falls. Amazing view. Its only 30 min drive from the campus. I have been there by bike so many times during the summer time.
What did you miss most from home/Beloit and how did you deal with it?
Social dynamics, especially hanging out with friends in common and playing pick-up soccer in the gym. How do I deal with it? Trying to do the same thing, I guess. But not as good as in Beloit though.
What was the biggest difference between Beloit and your host city/university? Similarity?
The size of the school. For example, Physics department here is 10 times bigger. 500 students in the first year courses etc. The similarity would be that I am still in small classes with just 3~5 other PhD students. So I know everyone in classes and we always hang out together. Professors are really approachable too.
What was your proudest/most exciting moment abroad?
Maybe having my own physics seminars, where many professors came to listen to what I have to say on the topic. They treat me as a physicist, no matter what background I have, and I really appreciate that.
How were you able to get involved with your host culture while abroad?
Through a bunch of different activities and socializing with the people. Physics, Supports, Music. I have many different friends in many different contexts. That’s what I always do wherever I go, Beloit, Canada, and many other countries.
Has the time you spent abroad changed the way you think about your athletic experience or your sport in general?
The biggest thing was that I had to decide between my soccer and study abroad, since I was going to spend a full year abroad. I definitely wanted to do both, but I had to decide where my priority is. I’ve decided to become a professional in the physics field, and as you all know, it takes a lot of dedication to be a professional, no matter what the field is. As I’ve involved in many ongoing scientific researches, I came to realize that it is probably my last chance to play soccer competitively, because after Beloit, I will be focusing on my research as a physicist. There are certain things that you can do only at certain time. Playing in the varsity is definitely one of them and one in a life time opportunity, and you come to realize how valuable it is in your life.
How were you able to stay in shape or stay prepared for your sport while you were gone?
Eat healthy, avoid fast food. Go to the gym often. Play IM soccer as much as possible.
Did being an athlete provide you with any advantages while you were abroad? If yes, what were they?
I made so many friends playing the sport. That’s the great thing about sports. It’s something everyone can share and enjoy. When I first came from Japan to Beloit, my English wasn’t that fluent, and I couldn’t have made as many American friends as I did without soccer. Many of international students tend to hang out only with each other, and their cultural experience would be restricted in a way. Playing soccer in the team definitely made my transition into another culture easier.