I didn’t think that it was possible to feel homesick for a place that isn’t “home” until I spent two months in Tokyo. Those two months that I spent in Tokyo for SCU’s summer abroad program have been life-changing, and I completely fell in love with the people and culture of Japan. During the first month of the program, I learned about the Japanese legal system and its trademark and patent laws. Aside from the classes, some of my favorite experiences from the first month were the planned field trips to the Japanese Patent Office, Supreme Court, and the Japanese Diet and witnessing Professor Jimenez singing opera for the first time at one of the weekend gatherings.
For the second month, I had the privilege of doing my externship in Tokyo at an IP law firm—which was when I was really able to immerse myself entirely in the Japanese culture. My firm welcomed me with open arms and treated me like one of their own—from taking me out to lunch every week, throwing me a welcome party that ended with us singing karaoke until 5 am, to playing tennis after work and watching fireworks on a yacht in Yokohama. Because of these firm outings, I was able to develop genuine friendships with my co-workers.
In terms of the work I was doing at the firm, I collaborated closely with my supervisor, one of the firm partners, and worked on a 17-page memorandum for one of his clients. Before this externship, I didn’t really know anything about patent practice. However, my daily check-in discussions with my supervisor and the extensive research I did for the 17-page memo sparked my interest in patent practice and I was able to learn so much about patent prosecution within a short period of 5 weeks.
Needless to say, participating in the Tokyo summer abroad program had been a once in a lifetime experience and I have a feeling that I will be going back very soon.