According to the latest available data from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), there are 24,331 international students who are studying abroad in Japan from Nepal as of 2018. This makes Nepal one of the countries where international students in Japan come from, next only to Vietnam (second place) and China (first place). Around 15,000 of the Nepalese students studying in Japan are enrolled in higher education institutions and around 9,000 are enrolled in Japanese language institutes.
Diplomatic relations of Nepal and Japan
Bilateral relations between Japan and Nepal formally began in 1956 and has remained strong ever since. In fact, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan, around 92,804 Nepalese citizens reside in Japan as of June 2019.
An international school, called Everest International School Japan, which is implementing a Nepalese curriculum in English, was even established in 2013 to address the needs of the increasing number of Nepalese children residing in Japan. The school is located in Asagaya, Tokyo, also known as “Little Nepal.”
Hence, Nepalese students studying in Japan, particularly those who come to Tokyo, are sure to find a vibrant Nepalese community in the country.
More importantly, healthy bilateral relations between the two countries mean that Nepalese citizens are eligible for the Mombukagakusho Scholarship or MEXT Scholarship offered by the Japanese government through the Ministry of Education Culture Technology and Sports.
Nepalese studying in Japan: In Pursuit of Science & Technology
Prashant Shrestha shares his journey towards studying abroad in Japan from Nepal. “I had no difficulty choosing Tokyo Institute of Technology. I was determined to study robotics from the beginning. The System and Control Engineering program from Tokyo Tech was specially catered to match the type of full robotic course I was seeking.”
“My major is System and Control Engineering,” he adds. “This is a specially designed course by Tokyo Tech faculties to provide a smooth transition for undergraduate students from robot basic to robot research without having to pursue any other unnecessary unrelated subject matter. The reason I chose this major is simply because I love technology and I think robots are the next big thing in the field of technology.”
“20 years ago, nobody would have thought smartphones would become one of the necessities of life,” Prashant says. “Today, smartphones have become like a part of human body that communicate with the rest of the world. They make our modern life a lot less of a struggle. I believe, in the future all the members of a household will become so busy with their work, studies and travel that they will need someone to keep home and manage their life. This role will be fulfilled by the robots and I am determined to make one.”
Student Life in Japan: Nepalese Student
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. In fact, Tokyo is indeed the safest city in the world, taking the top spot of the Safe Cities Index 2019 released by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist. The index factored in Digital Security, Health Security, Infrastructure Security, and Personal Security.
Thus, international students in Japan can enjoy their lives in a new country. “I am a quiet and peace loving guy,” says Prashant. “I live by myself in an apartment around 15 minutes cycle ride from my university and I love the place. There is no train station nearby so, I have to use my bicycle or walk for around 15 minutes to get to a train station.Or, I can always use a bus. Nearest bus stop is 1 minute walk from home. I don’t feel any inconvenience living away from train stations, in fact, my room is a lot more quiet due to this fact and I love it this way.”
Because Japan is safe for solo travelers, students can also use their vacations exploring the natural wonders and historical sites that Japan has to offer. “I love traveling and Japan is the perfect place for your travel,” Prashant shares. “I wasn’t always a travel person before. Now, I like to travel more than almost anything. Japan changed me and I am happy about it.”
Making the study abroad dream come true
In 2018, almost 9,500 international students who are studying abroad in Japan were funded through the scholarship offered by the Japanese government. Prashant fulfilled his dream of studying abroad in Japan from Nepal through this scholarship. Talking about the experience of getting the scholarship, he shares that one needs to alot time to really prepare. “My advice is don’t wait until the last day. Take time to fill the application form and also choose your recommender wisely. Give them enough time to write your recommendation. They give you one month between the application submission and the start of screening process. Use this time properly revising old high school notes and solving past questions.”
“When you reach the interview stage, you are 90% done,” he adds. “Give yourself enough time to think about your visionary future plans. During the interview answer the questions confidently.”
The MEXT Scholarship has two main categories: Undergraduate Level and Graduate Level. There are two subcategories for the Undergraduate Level and four 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)
The Graduate Level students receive ¥143,000 – ¥147,000 as their living allowance. This includes an additional monthly allowance of ¥2,000 to ¥3,000 if the student is studying in a major city like Tokyo where prices are higher than the rest of Japan. Meanwhile, undergraduate level students receive ¥117,000. Tuition and school fees are also paid for by MEXT, as well as the plane ticket to and from the scholar’s home country at the beginning and at the end of the scholarship period.
The scholarship application process is conducted through the Embassy of Japan in the applicant’s home country. The Embassy of Japan conducts the first screening of the applicants through submitted application documents, a written examination (Japanese Language Exam and English Language Exam) and interviews. Note that the results of the Japanese Language Exam only matters if the university and the program that you are applying for requires a particular level of Japanese language proficiency. After the first screening, the Embassy then recommends selected applicants to MEXT, which then conducts the second screening.
Learn more about the MEXT scholarship here.
Prashant’s journey is only one of the many Nepalese students studying in Japan who have pursued their dreams to study abroad. He also encourages others to take the leap. “Go with your views and passion. Don’t follow the herd. Don’t fear making bold decisions,” Prashant adds. “Come live your life!”