Thinking of Studying in Japan? This Might Convince You to Finally Do It
We spoke to three Filipinas who share their experience on what it's like to study in Japan.
Whether you’re thinking to go to Japan for further studies or thinking of enrolling your kids to study abroad, we know you must have a lot of questions. More than just a guide of processes, we know that experience is the best teacher. We got in touch with three Filipinas who are living and studying (or have children studying) in Japan to find out what the process was like for them. Read on and take notes.
Moving to Japan with two kids
Karol is a mother of two and she moved to Japan when her husband was relocated for work. Her 16-year-old daughter was an incoming 8th grader while her 8-year-old son was only four then, starting kindergarten.
As for choosing a school, Karol’s husband’s company recommended the international school where they could enroll the kids. “We checked the requirements for this school. And we just trusted their recommendation,” she shares.
In their case, it was quite easy because they were able to enroll their kids in an international school. She explains, “For international schools, Nihonggo was unnecessary. English is their main language.”
Prior to moving, they had to secure the kids’ official transcripts from their former schools. Her advice for parents who are thinking of moving to Japan with kids who are still in school? “Research on the school, accessibility of the area, and check if the school is offering scholarships!”
Your classmates won’t be all Japanese
Vermie is a 27-year-old pursuing a master’s degree in International Cooperation Policy specializing in International Public Administration. She has been living in Japan for almost a year now, having started during the Fall semester last year.
One thing that Vermie notes is the difference of Japan’s academic year from the Philippines’ and other Western universities. She advises, “Prospective students should be careful in the dates of applications especially when they are vying for certain scholarships and grants. It would be advisable to study the academic calendars of the schools they are aiming for and plan ahead of time, so they have ample time to gather all the required documents.”
When she moved to Japan to study, she initially thought that majority of her classmates would be Japanese. She shares, “It was a surprise when I found that there were actually very few Japanese in my batch and most of the students were foreigners like me.”
She warns that there are a lot of documents to be accomplished for foreign residents in Japan. “Aside from the residence card, you would have to accomplish documents for a local bank account, house insurance, health insurance, tax deductions, etc.,” she explains. But don’t worry, because schools facilitate orientation or give instructions to new students. “[They] should really maximize the help they can get from those offices.”
Before deciding on a school, Vermie suggests for prospective students to study their options carefully since sending their documents to Japan can already be very costly. She says, “Different schools and scholarships will have varying deadlines, requirements, and processes.” Once you’ve sent your documents to the school, they won’t be returned whether or not you get admitted, so don’t send any documents that cannot be replaced like diplomas. She recommends you check the official website of the school you are thinking of applying to. “Usually, schools will have sufficient information on their websites and clarifications and inquiries can be easily done through emails.
As for recommending studying in Japan, she says that Japan is such a unique country that it’s hard to find people who didn’t like going there. But traveling and living in Japan are not quite the same. She says, “Obviously, there are cultural differences but as long as you are open-minded, adjusting and adapting should not be a big issue.”
Studying in Japan doesn’t have to be expensive
Thirty-four-year-old Quel moved to Japan last September 2018 and is studying International Relations.
Most people assume that studying in Japan is expensive, but there are a lot of scholarships available. Quel shares, “You just have to find a suitable course and a good university and scholarships that can help fund your studies.”
If there’s anything she wishes she had done before enrolling in the University she’s currently studying, it’s to have had more time to research about the courses she was interested in and find universities and scholarships that would cater to those courses. She admits, “I really wanted to study media and governance, but I didn't have the time to look up more scholarship offerings.”
As for finding the right schools and getting to know the customary guidelines in Japan for people who want to study there, Quel says that the Japanese embassy’s website is a good place to start. “They have the government scholarships listed there. They can also see other organizations who offer scholarships such as IMF and ADB.”
Do you need to learn to speak the language? Quel says, “It's not an easy language to learn but it is advisable to study if you're going to live in Japan. It's also helpful when you travel, when you go shopping, when you visit restaurants.”