Tips for Studying in Japan

By Dr. Virak Prum

On March 29, 2010, new recipients of Japanese scholarships (“Monbukagakusho”) attended a send off ceremony at Sunway Hotel. Over a dozen eager and smart Cambodian students will fly to Japan this year to do their undergraduate or graduate degree programs at various well known universities. As a former recipient of this scholarship, I answered a few questions concerning the preparatory work needed in order to be successful in this program, and have provided my recommendations below.

First, students should focus on mastering the Japanese language although this may not be part of the requirement. It’s no use complaining of a stressful life in Japan if one does not take efforts to learn the language. Communication with the landlord, government and private agencies, shops and the public is largely done in Japanese. More often than not, international students should be able to communicate with the school administration in basic Japanese if they wish to have their claims/applications quickly understood or processed.

The second focus would be on the integration of oneself into the Japanese lifestyle. This means that international students should join as many activities as possible with Japanese student groups (they often call these “circles”) and participate in local festivals organized by community NGOs and NPOs, instead of hanging around with their own buddies from the same country. In the process of this integration, a lot of good things will happen: more fluent Japanese language ability, recognition from peers and teachers, first to learn of beneficial news (i.e. scholarships), and first to be considered for opportunities.

My third recommendation is that students should focus on building good relationships with their academic advisors. Students need to be attentive and willing to ask questions to clarify their understanding of the educational system and courses and should seek opportunities outside of class to converse further with their advisors.

Thus far, the Japanese government has offered scholarships to some 79,000 recipients from over 160 countries. The following are the seven types of Monbukagakusho scholarships currently available, and I encourage all interested UC students to pursue these wonderful learning opportunities:

1) Research Scholarship: This is for current or prospective college graduate students who are under 35 years of age. 2) Teacher Training Scholarship: This
is for graduates of a college or a teacher training college who have at least 5 years of teaching experience. 3) Undergraduate Scholarship: This is for students between 17 and 22 years of age who have completed 12 years of schooling. 4) Japanese Studies Scholarship: This is for those majoring in Japanese language or Japanese cultures. 5) College of Technology Scholarship: This is for students between 17 and 22 years of age who have completed 11 years of schooling.
6) Special Training College Scholarship: This is for students between 17 and 22 years of age who have completed 12 years of schooling. 7) Young Leaders’ Program (YLP) Scholarship: This is exclusively targeting students who are inspired to become public administrators. Candidates must be university or college graduates and possess at least 3-5 years of work experience in public administration or enterprises.

For more detailed information on any of the above scholarships, please visit the official website,