As a half-Japanese, I started learning the Japanese language at a very young age. Even at home, I had the opportunity to experience Japanese culture such as celebrating hinamatsuri and shichi-go-san. However, the thought of studying abroad did not cross my mind at all then. It was not until my first year of high school (we call it Junior College (JC) in Singapore) when I realized I really wanted to study in Japan.
At first, I was dead-set on studying in England because I studied English linguistics in my high school and I wanted to pursue this subject as my major in university, but one trip changed everything. This trip was organised by a company which encourages Singaporeans to study in Japan, and consisted of a two week program in which students were given the opportunity to visit several cultural sites, companies, and universities and talk to the teachers and students there. Not only did I make an amazing group of friends (who I still keep in contact with today), but my love for Japan deepened as well.
Motivated to study in Japan, I researched for various scholarships and programs and came across the MEXT Scholarship Program. In addition, back then, I was studying Japanese at MOELC (The Ministry of Education Language Centre, which is an educational institution for students studying in Singapore to learn an additional language for free) and since I did not know who else to turn to, I asked my teacher and seniors for advice. They recommended me the MEXT program and I was reassured that it was the right program for me.
With nothing to lose, I applied and though the process was grueling (I will elaborate the process in another article for informational purposes), I managed to pass! I was then assigned to study a preparatory course at Osaka University (Minoh Campus) for a year , and now (Of course I did not give up my love for linguistics), I am pursuing Japanese sociolinguistics at the University of Tokyo as an undergraduate student.