I am waiting for a flight to San Francisco at Tokyo Narita Airport. The ISSCR Annual Meeting is held in San Francisco this year. I am looking forward to seeing friends in the city as well as hearing great science at the meeting.
Every time I come to this airport, I remember the anxiety and hope I had when I first came to the US as a postdoc 5 years ago. I came to San Francisco as a postdoc on July 1st 2011, so it is almost exactly 5 years since then. So many things have been changed around me during these 5 years including our new daughter who has the US citizenship.
The anxiety became true. Especially the first 2 years. I would say the first 2 years in the US was the hardest 2 years in my life except my years under 6 (if I included those years, the hardest would be the first 2 years after birth, although I do not remember those at all). I had hard time adjusting myself to the US culture, settling family, speaking English, trying to scientifically produce something, and more. I experienced so many things that have made me stronger.
The hope became true as well. My biggest goal was to become a PI after the postdoc. I was able to get papers published and lucky enough to get my current position in Tokyo. Also, I was able to make a lot of good friends who are and are not scientists, to have a good mentor, to improve my English, to be exposed to great science in the US, and more and more.
I thank my family as well. My kids adjusted themselves to the US culture a lot faster than I did. My wife basically sacrificed her career for my postdoc (I think this is a common dilemma that many scientists have).
Thinking and recalling these things, I am 1,000 times more relaxed than I was 5 years ago at Tokyo Narita Airport.