Meet Wally, an undergraduate student from Singapore, currently enrolled in the University of Tokyo’s English-degree undergraduate program, PEAK! Continue reading to find out about his experiences as a Singaporean studying in Japan!

Meet Wally, a 23-year old student from Singapore. He currently studies at the Univerity of Tokyo’s PEAK Program, an undergraduate program where students can obtain their degree entirely in English! (Click here for more info about PEAK! ->)

Wally completed his high school education in Singapore. Afterward, he enlisted into the Singapore Armed Forces for two years before deciding to briefly enroll in Singapore Management University. He later moved to Tokyo in order to study under the PEAK Program. Wally is currently a sophomore at the University of Tokyo majoring in Environmental Sciences, where he plans to graduate under the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor’s degree.

Continue reading to find out more about Wally’s story of studying in Japan from Singapore!

Why did you choose to study in Japan?

Japan is a popular studying destination for many Singaporeans. Compared to the academically rigorous Singaporean universities, Japanese Universities are said to be more laid back, offering a good balance of academics, extra-curricular activities, part-time work, and social life.

This is what Wally had to say about his reasons for studying in Japan

“I chose to study in Japan because I wanted as much as possible to live away from Singapore, to try out and survive in a new environment. Even though I had offers from the US and China, they were really expensive, and Japan was a great option due to the MEXT scholarship being open to me at that time.”

What was the most difficult part of starting a life in Japan

For most international students, the Japanese language is said to be one of the most difficult parts of studying in Japan. For Wally, this was no different.

“Language barriers were and still are tough to deal with. One and a half years saw me put maximum effort into speaking Japanese on an almost daily basis. Even then, I can’t confidently say I’m fluent. Not even halfway there, yet.”

How did you overcome these difficulties?

Although language barriers are always intimidating, Wally provides us with three-key steps that helped him learn Japanese

1. “I took Japanese classes (as high of a level as I could) even though I didn’t need the credits (to fulfill my Junior Division requirements)”

2. “I joined circles and made sure I spoke Japanese as much as possible”

3. “I found a part-time role that forces me to communicate in Japanese”

Are you part of an international student aid program?

“I’m under the MEXT scholarship which is offered to international students.”

Wally receives the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) scholarship funded by the Japanese Government. To find out more about this scholarship, click here ->!

Wally’s MEXT Scholarship was a university recommendation. He did not have to apply for it directly. Rather, the Univerisity of Tokyo offered him the scholarship at the time of acceptance into the PEAK program.

Favorite part of student life in Japan?

Wally enjoys traveling and hanging out with his friends during his off-time.

Wally with his classmates

“My favorite part of Japan is the freedom I think! This may not be a Japan-only thing, but it feels nice to be responsible for every part of your life and to handle it alone, from househunting, job hunting, tax filing, etc. Independence is best learned on the fly.”

A brief outline of a typical day?

Japanese universities offer students a great balance between academics and social life and this is shown through Wally’s outline of a typical day.

“So I wake up at about 9 am, then I work remotely till about 6 pm (or have lessons). Usually, after 6 pm, I’d usually go out to have drinks, or talk more with people I’ve met over online platforms or LinkedIn.

Else, I usually take the rest of the day either working on skills that I’m interested in or just taking a break. People don’t realize how important just taking a break is.”

Interests in any club or circles?

Extracurricular activities are one of the main parts of a Japanese student’s university life. For Wally, it is no different.

Wally was first part of the Track and Field Club where he was a competitive high-jump athlete. He is now part of the BOILED dance circle. The trainings are enjoyable but long, sometimes going all throughout the night!

Any Japanese foods or places that you recommend?

Wally is a huge digger for noodles.

Tsuta’s famous Shoyu Ramen

“Tsuta (pictured), and Aburasoba!”

Wally also enjoys getting Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ), especially if it is horse meat.

Umatarou, an All-you-can-eat BBQ place that specializes in horse meat

A final word of advice for students from Singapore who are contemplating whether or not to study in Japan?

“Japan is a place where you can balance work and study. The idea of an internship is very different from that overseas, and it may be a good idea to balance work and study. There is only so much you can learn from studying, and most soft skills are made outside of the classroom. Japan brings its own set of unique circumstances, and I’ve never regretted my choice coming here.”

Thanks Wally!

I hope this article has provided a bit of insight for other students from Singapore who wish to study in Japan. If you are interested to read more about students from other countries, see below:

Study in Japan from the UK: Zainab’s Story

Study in Japan from the Philippines: Aretha’s Story