I had never been to Japan prior to receiving this scholarship. Japan has always been a curious country to me, often portrayed by British media as being a graceful mix of beautiful tradition and impressive modern technology with a hint of eccentricity, and I was one of those people who were drawn to her elegant traditional culture. From the age of fifteen I began teaching myself Japanese using the internet, eventually acquiring a GCSE and an A level in it, then went on to university to further my language skills and deepen my knowledge of the country. However no matter what I did, whether it be entering competitions to travel to Japan or searching for exchange programmes, I hadn’t had my chance to visit the Land of the Rising Sun just yet.
I first found out about the Japanese Studies Scholarship from my peers at university who had previously received it. They described how much of a great opportunity it is to participate in an independent programme - away from what is arranged at your university, allowing you to find the most appropriate course for you and experience a different city, while also having the financial support to pursue your interests. At first, I wasn’t certain whether this would be the right course for me as I was already mentally prepared to participate in the university's regular programme with my friends, but with some advice and guidance from my professors I was soon filling out the application forms.