Japanese Government (MEXT) Undergraduate Scholarships in Japanese Studies
MEXT Alumni Personal Experiences
Rebecca Paterson - Osaka University from September 2014 to September 2015
I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the country - its food, history, fashion, martial arts, technological advances and of course, language. I didn’t have the opportunity nor the financial resources to visit Japan before entering university and the thought of being able to spend a year there, sandwiched between focused study of the country in the UK, encouraged me to take my self-taught Japanese cultural and linguistic knowledge to the next level. I was introduced to this scholarship by my peers and professors, and it was a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
My main focus has always been the Japanese language. My university course in the UK started strictly from the beginner stage so I felt that my Japanese wasn't being pushed enough. The high quality and high level personal teaching, as well and its reputation, of the Osaka University programme was what attracted me. By the end of the course I had pushed my Japanese abilities beyond what I thought possible and had not only passed JLPT N1, but more importantly became able to talk about a varied range of topics, write a detailed report and picked up the local dialect, thanks to brilliant teachers and engaging classes.
I lived on campus for the duration of the programme which is located in a very remote area in the north of Osaka. All my classes were held at the Centre of Japanese Language and Culture with the other foreign students, who were all on the scholarship, and we lived together in the international dorms. Luckily residency was for the year and the rent was very cheap. I spent most of my time with foreign students on campus but used the scholarship to travel to many different places in Japan - travelling became my main pastime. I had a positive time in Japan, if not a bit lonely at times, but I found being outside exploring was much better than staying in my room all day. The Japanese people are extremely helpful and have a strong sense of community that makes day to day living very easy. Having a strong command of the language not only allows you to get by, but also gives you the confidence to go to faraway prefectures by yourself and talk to local residents. There are times when you do feel isolated however it’s important to be open-minded and understanding to Japan and its people, as well as to the other foreign students.
Before departing, I highly recommend reading about the course and the area you’ll be staying in so you feel more comfortable with your environment when you arrive. I found that articles about “what to bring to Japan” and advice from people who have lived there to be extremely helpful when packing. It’s also less stressful to know what types of phone plans are available so you don’t end up choosing the first one you see - this can be very expensive!