Throughout our lives, we’re buoyed by the unwavering love of our families and the foundational support of our countries or scholarships. Whether we’re scaling educational peaks or chasing personal dreams, these journeys are often made possible through financial aid and moral support. But how do we repay this immense kindness? One profound way is through the art of expressing gratitude. In this blog post, I will delve into the transformative power of giving thanks and provide practical ways to demonstrate our gratitude effectively, ensuring our benefactors not only hear but truly feel our appreciation.

On my last birthday, I didn’t make a wish; instead, I sent my parents a message:
“Thank you for raising me and being here with me. I might have given you hard times, but please remember the good times. I pray for both of you to have a long and healthy life.”
I once stumbled upon a quote that struck a chord with me: “Love your parents. We are so busy growing up that we often forget they are also growing old.” This resonated deeply while studying for my master’s degree, a time when both of my parents were unwell. It was then that I learned the importance of expressing my love for them every day. This realization significantly shifted my perspective and deepened my appreciation for their unwavering support.

Photo 1: An unexpected surprise from my parents upon returning home

Transitioning from a bachelor’s degree in literature to a master’s in Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering was a significant challenge. Initially, the Ministry of Education denied my application to the program. It took three persuasive letters from my supervisor explaining why I was a suitable candidate before they finally approved my admission. My master’s thesis began well, but by the final semester, I found myself struggling. Stress was mounting, and it felt like everything was falling apart. Seeing my distress, my supervisor reassured me by saying, “It’s okay, you still have time.” His continual support throughout my academic journey inspired me to push through and graduate on time this spring alongside my peers. Successfully completing my degree on schedule was my way of showing appreciation for all the effort my supervisor had put into helping me succeed.

Photo 2: Group photo with fellow lab members

During my time at Tokyo Tech, I had the privilege of accessing various campus facilities that significantly enhanced my student experience. These included a well-equipped gym, an extensive library, lush green spaces, and the newly opened women-only relaxing room. This last facility became a personal favorite — it provided a peaceful space where I could relax or even nap between classes. As a Muslim, I particularly appreciated the privacy it offered for prayer, making it a convenient and cherished part of my daily routine.

Tokyo Tech also extends its support beyond the campus, providing financial assistance for students participating in off-campus programs like the ASPIRE Forum Student Workshop. This generosity enabled me to apply my academic knowledge internationally and deepened my resolve to give back to the community that has given me so much. To express my gratitude, I plan to join the Tokyo Tech Supporters Membership Program in the future. By doing so, I aim to leave a lasting mark on the campus by having a brick engraved with my name, symbolizing my appreciation and ongoing connection to the university.

Photo 3: My graduation picture next to the engraved names in the library

Last but not least, it’s crucial not to overlook appreciating oneself. After the graduation ceremony, I paused for a moment of reflection, taking a deep breath as I revisited the past two years’ joyous and challenging moments. There were times of laughter and tears, praise and criticism — all now woven into the tapestry of my memories. Inspired by a professor who always began our classes with a gentle inquiry about our well-being and self-care, I decided to honor my own journey. I treated myself to a serene picnic by a river, surrounded by the blossoming sakura trees. This peaceful setting was my way of thanking myself for persevering through all the hard work. It celebrated my personal growth and achievements, a testament to the importance of nurturing oneself amidst life’s demands.

Photo 4: Picnic next to the river near Futako-tamagawa Station

As I begin my PhD journey, I carry with me deep gratitude for everyone who supported me through my master’s — my family, my supervisor, my scholarship providers, and the Tokyo Tech community. Your unwavering support has not only shaped my academic path but also enriched my personal growth. Thank you for being my strength and inspiration. As I step into this new chapter, I am reminded that our journeys are interwoven with the kindness we share and the gratitude we express.

Photo 5: Some of the love I received from my friends and the Tokyo Tech community