Hello from Edinburgh – An Update from Dylan, Class of 2017

Dylan Oshima, Class of 2017

Welcome to our first Alumni Voices blog post! Our hope is to share updates from various UWC ISAK alumni on our blog each month. This post was contributed by Dylan Oshima (Class of 2017, Philippines) who is currently attending the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Thank you, Dylan, for checking in and letting us know about your new life at the University of Edinburgh!

Tell us about your university.

The University of Edinburgh (UoE) is in the heart of Scotland’s capital. It’s a very friendly place with a large international community, which is a major reason for why I chose it. It is also very highly ranked in the study of artificial intelligence which I partly major in. Many of the founders of the field studied at the University of Edinburgh or conduct research here. The University also invests heavily in other cutting-edge technology; for example, they are currently working on a blockchain and technology laboratory.

What is life like at UoE?

It was very difficult adjusting initially. I didn’t quite understand British humor at first. For example when someone says “It needs a little work”, I thought that means it needs improvement, but apparently, here it means “it’s rubbish”. Little nuances like this left me quite confused. This is also my first experience truly living in the west. I have lived in Asia, and specifically, South East Asia for most of my life and I was surprised by how stark the difference was. Coming from ISAK, however, helped me adjust and made me aware that I was feeling uncomfortable and needed to be aware of it, but not stop me from taking action. I initially found a home with the computer science students who taught me about realms of technology that I had not known existed. The students here are so passionate about the technology and I often see them creating new apps and software for simple tasks just because they wanted to experiment or “play” with the tech. I then started meeting other UWC and IB students.

How has UWC impacted your university experience?

Being able to say that I took the IB and that I attended a UWC immediately helped me find a family with many other students who had similar experiences as I. Some of my closest friends are those that attended UWC Costa Rica and UWC Atlantic. Trading stories about what experience was like at our respective UWCs often leads to interesting similarities and contrasts. This network is something I urge other UWC ISAK Japan students to utilize when they go off to University.

What are some highlights from your first year?
  • I was able to get a part-time job as a programmer for a company called Consensys. They focus on creating block-chain applications on the Ethereum network. From there I learned so much about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
  • I became the first year rep for Edinburgh’s Computer Science Society (CompSoc). I organize and facilitate many events, and work with big tech companies in reaching out to students. Many of the skills I apply in this position I actually learned while in ISAK.
  • I have participated in several hackathons which are 24-hour project creation events. I was flown in by Manchester University’s Computer Science Society as well as invited to the J.P. Morgan Chase “Code for Good” hackathon. I have learned so much and met so many talented individuals by participating in these hackathons. I have myriad of projects planned with various teams and people that I have met and I am excited to tell you about them as we progress further in the individual development processes.
My team for Google’s HashCode competition. We came in 822nd out of 4856 teams. From left to right: Uday from Malaysia, Bora from Turkey (UWC Dilijan, Class of 2016) and me.
You are pursuing your passion. How did UWC ISAK influence you?

After my first year in ISAK, I realized I truly enjoyed learning about other people, hearing their stories, and assisting them in reaching their own goals and ambitions. There was a naive ambition I came up with one night while I contemplated what I wanted to devote my life to. I decided I wanted to make the Philippines a programming haven. I saw how easy it was for people to pick up coding thanks to the internet, and I saw that Filipinos already had a high fluency with computers and technology. I figured that if I could learn about the industry and bring that knowledge to the Philippines I could help engender an environment for programmers to sprout from. ISAK was really the catalyst for this decision. Having friends from all over the world, ironically, grounded me. It taught me about what life was like in other countries and how lucky I was to grow up like I did. ISAK also taught me to capture my childish naivety and use it to embark on this goal. I believe that it is that childishness that helps us achieve what we otherwise would think is impossible and being in a University like UoE helps me find teammates with similar views who to embark on this seemingly impossible adventure with me.

Our trip to the Christmas fair in Edinburgh. From left to right, Lucia from Spain, myself, and Vittorio from Italy (UWC Costa Rica, Class of 2017).

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