Have you ever thought about getting your Bachelor’s Degree abroad? It seems exciting, but also a little scary, right? Imagine living in a foreign country, experiencing a new culture and learning a new language. Moving to a different country right after high school seems like such a big dream. But what if I tell you that a lot of people from all over the world take this challenge on and are now studying here in Japan?
So, how do these students take on this adventure? In Japan, the government offers a scholarship for international students to study in Japanese universities. The MEXT Scholarship or Mombukagakusho Scholarship covers the tuition and other school fees and includes a monthly stipend for living expenses. Let’s learn more about the MEXT Scholarship for Undergraduate Students and hear from MEXT Scholars who took a leap of faith and pursuing their bachelor’s degree in Japan!
MEXT Scholarship for Undergraduate Students
The Monbukagakusho Scholarship is a fully-funded government scholarship that covers tuition and school fees and includes a monthly stipend to cover basic housing and living expenses. The scholarship is awarded to foreign students (non-Japanese citizens) by the government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Technology or “Monbukagakusho” (文部科学省) in Japanese. The scholarship is also often shortened as “MEXT Japan” or the “MEXT scholarship.” The scholarship has many categories and is open to over 160 nationalities. The only challenge with this scholarship is that slots are limited and thus can get highly competitive.
The MEXT Scholarship has six main categories (4 for Undergraduate Level and 2 for Graduate Level):
- Undergraduate Level
- Undergraduate Student (Bachelor’s Degree)
- Japanese Studies Student (Short-term Study Exchange)
- College of Technology Student (Associate Degree)
- Specialized Training College Student (Diploma, Advanced Diploma)
- Graduate School Level
- Research Student (Non-Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate Degree)
- Teacher Training Student (Short-term / Certificate Course)
Specific details about eligible fields of study and application guidelines depend on the category that the student is applying for.
The period of study in Japan for “Undergraduate Students (Bachelor’s Degree)” is usually 5 years (1 year Preliminary Japanese Language Training, if needed, plus 4 years of earning the Bachelor’s Degree). Those who are majoring in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary science study in Japan receive a scholarship for up to 7 years.
Make sure to check the website of the Embassy of Japan in your country where they publish the latest application guidelines. For reference, you may view and download the Japanese Government Scholarship 2020 Application Guidelines for MEXT Undergraduate Students (Bachelor’s Degree), which was published and released by the Embassies of Japan in several countries.
If you are interested in the other scholarships in the Undergraduate Level, check out these other guidelines released in 2020: Japanese Studies Student (Short-term Study Exchange), College of Technology Student (Associate Degree), and Specialized Training College Student (Diploma, Advanced Diploma).
Student Life: MEXT Undergraduate Students across Japan
The life of a MEXT undergraduate student can differ depending on which university the students are enrolled in.
In terms of the climate, Japan has four major seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Hokkaido in the north will be the coldest and Okinawa and Kyushu island are the mildest and has a more temperate climate. Meanwhile, the climate in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto and nearby areas in the middle part of Japan is somewhere in the middle where it is generally cool throughout the year, can be very cold during winters, and can be warm and humid during summers.
MEXT Undergraduate Students: Classes
So, what is it really like to take classes at a Japanese university? Mita Ahuja is a MEXT Undergraduate Student from India. She is majoring in Computer Science at Tokyo Institute of Technology. Ahuja shares what her classes are like, including some information about which classes are conducted in English and which ones are in Japanese. “Usually, my classes start at 9 a.m. and end at 4:35 p.m.,” she shares. “The schedule depends on the number of classes you have that day but this is the schedule when I have classes all day. On average, people have 2-3 classes (3-4.5 hours of classes) every day. Most of the classes that I am taking are related to my major, Computer Science, which are conducted in Japanese. Most of the students are Japanese with two or three international students. Besides these, I am also taking English and a few Humanities courses.”
MEXT Undergraduate Students: Dorm and Apartment
Most universities offer student accommodations for undergraduate students for a fee. Anubrata Nath, who studies Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Tohoku University, is one of the many undergraduate students who live in dormitories in Japan. “I live in the dorms provided by the university,” Nath explains. “University dorms are divided into units. Each unit has eight private bedrooms, three shared toilets, two shared shower rooms, and a common room area for cooking and dining. Cooking utensils, bedding, and linens are provided by the university.”
Moreover, Nath shares that he also enjoys living in a university dormitory setting. “The dorm life is fun and interesting,” he adds. “It’s so exciting to watch a world cup match or an Olympic event together with the dorm mates. The university dorm authority also plans parties and other fun activities to encourage more social interactions and make the dorms a better place to live in.”
MEXT Undergraduate Students: Circles and clubs
Student organizations and clubs are usually referred to as “circles” in Japan. Being part of circles is a major part of university life in Japan. Prashant Shrestha is a MEXT Undergraduate Student from Nepal. He is majoring in System and Control Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Arsen has joined university circles, which he says makes his university life more fun. “My friend circle mostly consists of people from my course,” says Prashant. “So I have a lot of international friends and a few Japanese friends with whom I like to hangout in my free time. My club mates are all majorly Japanese. I also like to do group study with my batch mates, as it helps in developing our mutual understanding and builds a stronger sense of unity. I also love to play computer games with my friends to relax and chill for some time.”
If you have a keen interest in Japan and Japanese culture, don’t hesitate to apply for the MEXT Scholarship for Undergraduate Students. MEXT Undergraduate Scholar and Medicine student Keng We Goh from Hokkaido University has a piece of advice for those who are looking to take their Bachelor’s Degree in Japan. “I think the most important piece of advice to give to anyone who’s planning to apply for the scholarship is that you must have a keen interest in Japan and must be willing to learn a new language and use it in your everyday life,” says Goh. “Know that you will be spending most of your youth in a culture that is probably very different from yours and that your life in the future will depend a lot on what you have learned during the college years.”