trips to japan
Many people dream of visiting Japan one day. Travel, explore, experience the culture and meet people, learn the language, maybe work or get a degree in Japan as a stepping stone to an international career. If you are one of those people, this article is for you, because below I present different opportunities that can help you achieve your dream.
First of all, there are many ways to travel to Japan, and there are different types of visas for each purpose, so everyone can choose the one that best suits their situation. However, since the pandemic, tourist visa applications are quite complicated, so many people will have to wait a while before traveling to Japan. (I link to the latest news below.)
The reason why I chose the MEXT scholarship
If you are interested in Japan and want to take your studies to the next level, I think it is a very good idea to try student life in Japan. Not only can you learn the language perfectly, but you can also study your chosen profession on the side.
Many universities offer short-term exchange programs and private universities also have their own scholarship programs. Even better, the Japanese government itself supports international students through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) scholarship program.
(image source: https://www.nz.emb-japan.go.jp/)
There are five different scholarship categories within MEXT, which you can find more information about on the Japanese Consulate website. Overall, there are differences in the level and duration of training.
The MEXT Undergraduate Scholarship (5 years)
I opted for the MEXT undergraduate scholarship because it not only takes care of university studies but also the cost of living. This way, students can really focus on learning and gaining more experience without the financial burden. I wouldn’t trade my years in Japan for anything else!
During this program, students receive a full year of basic Japanese language training, after which they can continue their studies in the field of their choice at public universities. The first year is spent largely among foreign students. They study Japanese language, culture, history, economics and science and are admitted to the public university of their choice based on the grades and credits they obtain during this period. Once admitted to their chosen university, the environment switches almost entirely to Japanese, and there students face additional challenges that go a long way towards their development.
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, where I spent my first year.
(image source: https://fair.jmena.jp/)
Although the MEXT scholarship is only available to public universities, private universities and organizations also have many scholarship programs, often in English, usually geared towards foreigners. For a list of other scholarships and universities, see this website: https://www.studyinjapan.go.jp/en/.
If you are seriously considering studying in Japan, the key is to choose the program that best suits you and your future plans.
MEXT Application Procedure
On the following website, (https://www.studyinjapan.go.jp/en/smap-stopj-applications-undergraduate.html) you can find all the documents you need to complete to apply. You will need an application form, transcripts of school results, proof of medical examination and a letter of recommendation from a former teacher.
The entire application process is in English, so it is important to read the guidelines very carefully to ensure that all documents submitted comply with the forms and guidelines. It took me about two weeks to prepare all the documents, but it is better to start earlier because some documents may take longer to obtain.
My personal experience when applying for the scholarship
If you are sure you want to apply for this scholarship, here are some tips to keep in mind. First, you should aim to submit your application at least one week before the deadline. Preparing the paperwork is challenging and takes a lot of help, but it’s worth it, just start early! It’s good to have a teacher or mentor who can support you professionally along the way.
The written exam includes several subjects: English, mathematics, Japanese and science, depending on the chosen field of study. It’s worth focusing on what you know best and trying to do very well in at least one subject. The Japanese language is not a criterion for success, but if you have studied a little Japanese, do not leave the papers blank, try to fill in as many questions as possible. I tried to answer the questions in Japanese and English as well as possible.
Many questions will be asked during the interview, but interviewers are more interested in knowing if you are clear about your future plans and your motivation. I have tried to show my interest in Japan and describe my future plan of receiving the scholarship program as clearly as possible!
When the first round is over, it takes several months until the final result is announced. During this waiting period, it is worth learning more about life in Japan and getting in touch with seniors who have already lived there. For me, it was very useful to be able to talk to several of my colleagues was feeling what to expect.
Once the final result is announced, you will unfortunately have to say goodbye to your family life and people for a while. It’s not an easy process and you have to think about what you’ll need when you leave. In the meantime, it is worth contacting your host university as soon as possible and asking how you can prepare for moving to Japan.
My thoughts five years later
I think everyone chooses their own path, and for my twenty-year-old self, taking that leap was actually the best choice. I wanted to be part of a completely new experience, so much so that I did not hesitate to try this scholarship. Every once in a while I am reminded why I came here and what my intentions are, and it always helps me rethink my itinerary.
If I can give you any advice before you start: think about your own situation, your own goals, and choose the path that suits you best. If you have any questions about the scholarship, feel free to leave me a comment or instagram message and let’s talk!
Pandemic situation information
Since the start of the pandemic, only a limited number of new students have been able to enter Japan. Many of the sponsored entries were MEXT scholars, as this is a public course, but there are other scholarship programs and private language schools that have successfully issued student visas.
Tourist visas are now available on a limited basis at travel agencies, and newly recruited foreign workers, after two years, finally seem ready to enter Japan. For more details, see the links below.
Current Japanese border measures: https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: https://www.mofa.go.jp/