A growing number of international students continue to embark on their journey to pursue higher education in Japan. Renown for high quality of education, Japanese universities currently offer around 1000 programmes taught fully in English (About 150 at undergraduate and about 850 postgraduate level).
The opportunity to earn a degree without being a native Japanese speaker has made Japan a popular study destination for students attracted by its exotic culture, safety and surprisingly, affordable living expenses. Here are the real voices from Tanzanians, Mr Elias G. Balimponya and Ms Neema Y. Yona, who are PhD students at Hokkaido University, one of national universities in Japan.
Mr Elias was awarded the Japanese Government MEXT (*) Scholarship Embassy Recommendation, of which application will be open in April for Tanzanians, administered by the Embassy of Japan in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
After two years of his arrival in Japan for pur-suing PhD in Agriculture, his wife, Ms Neema, who had been search-ing for the opportunities for her next academic career, applied for a course and went to Japan pursing for PhD in Agro ecosystems. Their story below would let you realize how Tanzanian could broaden his/her world by studying in Japan.
*The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan.
Message from Mr Elias (E) and Ms Neema (N)
The reason why I choose Japan for my studies
(E) i) High and advanced technology in research: I wanted to get trained and doing research using the high technology in Japan.
ii) Friendly Japanese society: One of my friends who studied in Japan used to tell me that Japanese people are so friendly, so I considered Japan as a good place to stay for about 4 years of my PhD course.
iii) Rice production: Japan is over 100% rice production sufficient. Since my interested field was rice breeding, I believed I would get more knowledge in the field from a country that has exceeded sufficient level in rice production. Searching for my university was a bit interesting journey.
I searched a laboratory that had a best rice breeding activities in Japan and found Hokkaido University. I sent the email to professors under the plant breeding lab, but I didn’t receive any response.
I checked again their web-site and find students in that lab and luckily, I got some students who had accounts on Facebook.
Then, I had to send messages on Facebook to one of them introducing myself and asking him whether he knew professors in that lab. He kindly passed my message to the lab and finally I started communication with the professor. Getting a prospective supervisor is very important process for entering graduate schools in Japan. Fully searching and never give-up mind is required.
(N) Most of Japanese universities provide Japanese language courses for free for their registered students. I got interested in Japanese for communication, once I reported and registered to Hokkaido University.
Then I took Japanese language course in campus, which helped me a lot to be able to communicate with Japanese people inside and out-side the campus. Before coming to Japan, you may take some introduction course for Japanese language just for getting awareness and little communication of some common words like greetings in some institutions or universities in Tanzania. You can also learn through online courses which are provided for free.
* Several recommendations for online learning Japanese are shown here. www.studyinja-pan-africa.com/learn-japanese/
(E) Japanese language is mainly required in the environment out-side campus and therefore living well in Japan would need at least a basic understanding of Japanese. Within campus, Japanese has little importance because postgraduate courses are conducted in English.
One of the memories that I never forget was the loss of 200,000 Yen (Almost TZS 4 Million), which was an allowance for 2 kids for families who had been affected by COV-ID-19. In order to get that money, it required you to apply with filling a certain form.
The notification in Japanese came in my mailbox, how-ever, I didn’t notice it and ended up with losing the allowance. So, it would be better NOT to ignore Japanese language.
Job opportunities while studying in Japan
(N) I have a part-time job at one of food processing companies. Most students in Japan are doing part-time jobs while studying in universities.
So, it is possible to support your life or pay some school fees for those self-funded students while doing their studies. It just needs to balance the time to make sure that enough time is devoted for studies as the main objective and part-time jobs as subsidiary.
The other important thing is to obtain a permit from Japan immigrations allowing you to do other activities of which you were not permitted to do when you entered Japan. Working without a permit would result into deportation with no any chance of reasoning.
(E) I worked as a sorter at a trans-port company allocating parcel at their designations and at the food processing factory, producing food for one of famous convenient stores. I also got a temporary job as an English teacher for some weekends at local high schools. Part-time jobs are available but it should not interfere with research/academic activities of the student and so I was forced to find part-time jobs that are done on weekends.
For me, the part-time working environment was the best place to learn Japanese because you meet very few Japanese who can speak English, so you are forced to communicate in Japanese.
What is nice in Japan?
(E) I had an image that leaving with a family as a student was difficult in Japan. But fortunately, Japan has a system of kindergartens where all kids from the age of 48 days should attend and be taken care of so that their parents can continue working or studying.
The Japanese government has a system of financially supporting children under 18, which does cover all families including foreigners. Therefore, in my second year I decided to have my family with me in Japan.
(N) Before coming to Japan, I thought that Japanese people may not be cooperative to foreigners or international students. After I came here, however, I realized that Japanese people are very nice people to everyone and so cooperative even with foreigners. I stay with my family some 10 kilometers away from campus in a typical Japanese society, where we never feel lonely and enjoy ourselves.
Dear my fellow Tanzanians
(N) I would like to encourage my fellow Tanzanians who wish to do their studies abroad to choose Japan. Because, the academic environment in Japan is wonderful due to supportive supervisors and well-equipped laboratories having modified apparatus and machines. Choosing Japan would make you ensure to finish your studies on time.
You can see vivid examples of our previous fellows who graduated from Hokkaido University. There are opportunities to get a scholarship for studies before and after coming to Japan through Embassy of Japan in Tanzania, universities and private donors in Japan respectively. Japanese are so friendly to everyone including foreigners, so the Tanzanian youth will have a good learning environment.
(E) I am in my second year of PhD but I feel like I have enough to do something in my society. I encourage you to take advantage of studying in Japan. It is a country that offers education but also opportunities to practice what you have learned or researched for. For those under the age of 35 years, there are plenty of scholarships especially MEXT, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and through inter-universities cooperation’s.
For those over 35 years of age; there are plenty of scholarships offered by different universities, organizations, and institutions in Japan.
The main challenges that the over 35 people need to overcome are to have an admission letter from a university and prepare transport fare and payments for at least the first semester tuition fee. It is easier to get scholarship for the rest of learning period. It is also very important to communicate with the prospective professor in a Japanese university for any scholarship opportunities before joining the university.
We have recently launched “The Association of Tanzanian Students in Japan -TSJ”, I welcome you to visit our social account pages especially Facebook (www.facebook.com/TzStudentsinJapan) and ask as many questions as you may have. All in all, studying in Japan is much better!
Information on Japanese Government MEXT Scholarship Embassy Recommendation
Through the Embassy of Japan in Tanzania, Tanzanians can get an opportunity to apply for the fully sponsored government scholarship.
The application window opens once a year in late April. Visit the website of the Embassy of Japan in Tanzania (www.tz.emb-japan.go.jp) and check its eligibility.
Late May: Deadline for submission of applications
Early June: Preliminary shortlisted of screened students
Mid June: Writing exam and Oral Interviews at the Embassy
Note: The sister scholarship to this, is the Japanese Government MEXT Scholarship University Recommendation. The selection pro-cess under this is 100% conducted by universities. So prospective stu-dents should observe the admission procedures of respective universities.
Japanese university search
For assistance on identifying the various study options in Japan, MEXT entrusted Study in Japan Global Network Project Regional Office in Sub-Saharan Africa to pro-vide essential information such as what universities there are to apply.
This office has a Data Portal which allows users to search their ideal programme according to major and degree one wish to study. Visit our University Search Data Portal: stud-yinjapan-africa-portal.com
Study in Japan online fair to be held on 26th Saturday February 2022
Study in Japan Global Network Project Regional Office in Sub-Saharan Africa is glad to announce that the study in Japan online fair “JPN Opportunities: Graduate Studies in Japan for Africa Feb. 2022” is coming soon to be held. If you consider going abroad for your graduate studies, just register and e-meet with university staff in Japan directly on the day. We try our best to make this coming Saturday memorable for your future career.