Hello, my name is Hadiza Mohammed. I’m a Nuclear Science and Technology masters student at the University of Sheffield and I’m very excited to be writing you this very special blog from Hitachi city, Japan. I was selected for a once in a lifetime opportunity to intern for three months as a nuclear engineer with Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy and it’s been an amazing experience so far. In Hitachi I am in plant layout and design group and have worked on both domestic Japan projects and the new UK Wylfa plant in Wales. At Sheffield my research is focused on producing cements that can encapsulate the radioactive waste from the Fukushima disaster so even my studies at the University have been Japan focused. This, along with help and advice from my supervisor, supported my application for this internship.
So far it’s been a lot of noodles, cat cafes and eating unusual seafood such as raw whelk and flounder sushi. The company threw me a lovely welcome party where my manager and supervisor both insisted on ordering and feeding me raw chicken. Yes, that’s right, raw, totally raw chicken. I tried to explain to them in the UK this was unacceptable and if you served this the police would shut down your restaurant. They laughed and thought I was funny/weird.
I’ve also been learning a lot about “Japanese conscience” whereby everyone follows the rules not out of fear of getting caught but because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve witnessed the absolutely remarkable including people not crossing the road unless it’s a green man even though the road is total empty and there are no cars for miles, people paying for meals and bus passes and so forth even though they could very easily just walk off as there is no person or barrier to check if they’ve actually paid and everyone taking the time to sort their rubbish into the 10 different category bins Japan has even holding onto items of rubbish for weeks until they can identify and locate the right bin. It’s been a unique experience and certainly very different to what you see back home.
Hitachi is an amazing company and everyone who works here is very kind, helpful and generous and the concept of ego seems to not exist here at all. At the same time they’re very intelligent and hardworking and dedicated to their roles and it’s the norm for people to arrive at work super early and leave super late. At lunch the lights get dimmed and many people have their afternoon nap to take a break from the hard day’s work. I’m having a wonderful time here and learning a lot from the company. I’m getting to contribute to real projects and real nuclear power plants and am very grateful for the experience. I will keep blogging throughout the experience until my return to Sheffield and hope you’ll join me for the journey.