In an increasingly globalized world, going abroad for higher education is becoming more common. Here, 10 students and recent graduates of Japanese universities share their experiences with English-heavy degree programs.

Sharing stories with the world

Name: Makinodan Melissa Akina
University: Rikkyo University
Faculty: College of Intercultural Communication
Department: Department of Intercultural Communication
Year: Third
Nationality: Brazilian

At the College of Intercultural Communication, I learned not only to take into consideration my own interests, but also to listen and be able to understand. Rikkyo University has provided me with all the tools to become a person with better understanding of social issues in the world.

After receiving so much support from my professors, peers and the staff, I decided that I wanted to help others. Therefore, every year I try to help the new international students in my department. Moreover, my friends and I started an interview project called Humans of CIC to share the interesting students we have here with the world.

A space to build global networks

Name: Michael MacArthur Bosack
University: International University of Japan
Faculty: Graduate School of International Relations
Department: Ph.D. in International Relations
Year: Second
Nationality: American

It is a privilege to live, study, and research in Japan, but even more so alongside peers from 60 other nations. Every day, every interaction at IUJ is a lesson that offers perspective on the world and its people. The school’s motto is “Where the World Gathers…” and I would complete that by saying, “…is where students build global networks, share invaluable insights and form lasting bonds.”

Convenient housing a major asset

Name: Francis Therese Calalang
University: Waseda University
Faculty: School of Political Science and Economics
Department: Economics (EDESSA Program)
Year: Fourth
Nationality: Filipino

Calalang lived in Waseda International Student House (WISH) during the first two years of her studies. WISH houses approximately 900 Japanese and international students and is less than a 10-minute train ride from the university’s main campus. Aside from making the transition to university easier and getting guidance for local government procedures, Calalang said she took advantage of its convenient location and safety. “Whenever the weather was nice, my friends and I liked to get takeout from one of the restaurants and have a picnic in Nakano Central Park.”

Classes inspire multiculturalism

Name: Cindy Marie Holasca
University: Meiji University
Faculty: School of Global Japanese Studies
Department: Department of Global Japanese Studies
Year: Third
Nationality: Filipino

The English Track Program of the School of Global Japanese Studies offers an extremely versatile curriculum. I wanted to expand my knowledge in several areas of Japanese culture, and this program comprises them all — starting from Japan’s history, traditional arts and language, to its modern technology, economy and even popular culture. But the program does not merely stop within Japan, it also connects these aspects of the Japanese culture to the rest of the world, hence, the term “global.” The classes, which are mainly taught in English, remove barriers and produce multicultural communities where students can freely interact and share their own cultures with one another.

Practicality fused with inspiration

Name: Daniel Hooper
University: Kanda University of International Studies
Faculty: Graduate School of Language Sciences
Department: M.A. TESOL Program (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
Graduated: 2016
Nationality: British
Company: Kanda University of International Studies

Entering the M.A. TESOL at Kanda changed my life both professionally and personally. The intensely practical nature of the program meant that I could apply what I had learned to my teaching the following day. As a result, I became increasingly excited about pedagogy and began to search for more and more ways to develop. Rather than simply viewing teaching as a job, I came to see myself as a professional actively participating in the field of TESOL. This was also fostered by the fantastic professors and staff who perceived all the students as valued educators with much to offer the future of language education in Japan.

Lasting friendships across borders

Name: Balagopal Narayanan Nair
University: Hitotsubashi University Business School
Faculty: Executive MBA
Department: International Corporate Strategy
Graduated: 2018
Nationality: Indian
Company: Noritake Co. Ltd.

The experience allowed me to set a clear path and hone my proficiency in management subjects, as well as overall leadership skills. Stationed in India, the virtual sessions enabled me to participate despite the busy work schedule. The quality and diversity of my cohorts and the way we supported each other was the most incredible experience of my EMBA stint. Fifteen of my fellow students were high-caliber executives representing leading global corporations and important portfolios for their employers. We communicate on a regular basis even now, and many of them are my best friends with whom I can share a range of things in life.

Excellence in Canada and Japan

Name: Colin Rennie
University: McGill University
Faculty: Desautels Faculty of Management
Department: MBA
Graduated: 2018
Nationality: Canadian

I chose the McGill MBA Japan program because the university’s international reputation, worldwide alumni reach and academic excellence exceeds the offerings of any other business school in this country. Though the program is completed over weekends in Tokyo, half a world away from the Montreal home campus, nothing is watered down. The course content, workload and expectations are the same as for students in Canada. Even the professors are the same, as they fly here to teach, so I have had the privilege of learning from some of North America’s top business scholars right here in Tokyo. Post graduation, I am proud to join a global network of McGillians.

Diverse opportunities abound

Name: Shah Raj
University: Keio University
Faculty: Faculty of Economics
Department: PEARL Program (Programme in Economics for Alliances, Research and Leadership)
Year: Third
Nationality: Indian

Attending Keio through the PEARL program has given me the chance to understand the aspirations and efforts of both the university and Japan as a whole to become “global.” Whether through professors from various backgrounds or students from around the globe, I have been exposed to many unique and cutting-edge topics such as financial technology and other inter-related topics that are positioned at the center of global discussions today. With the university’s support, I have been able to expand my interests and horizons, most crucially through practical experiences such as internships and part-time jobs, but also through seminars and inter-university events.

Pioneer spirit crucial for Japan

Name: Doan Ngoc Phuong Trinh
University: Toyo University
Faculty: Global and Regional Studies
Department: Global Innovation Studies
Year: Second
Nationality: Vietnamese

Because all of my classes are taught in English, I always have a chance to be exposed to an international environment with classmates from all around the world. Most of my professors try to bring a new teaching method to class, not just the conventional ways of using blackboards or PowerPoint. I think more universities in Japan should encourage student initiative outside the classroom, such as student organizations, innovation labs run by students and more. A good degree is not what really matters in today’s society. An active, innovative and pioneer generation is what Japan needs in order to compete with the rest of the world.

Strong support for all students

Name: Rie Yuna
University: Sophia University
Faculty: Faculty of Liberal Arts
Department: Department of Liberal Arts
Year: Fourth
Nationality: South Korean

Sophia University makes great efforts to support their students regardless of their nationalities. For example, there are enormous opportunities to receive scholarships, and I received one all four years. However, not only scholarships, but also other support such as career planning advice and individual counseling programs for study are ready for every student. Thus, I never felt that I am left out as a foreigner. Personally, Sophia encourages students to work hard to get credit for their efforts. I do not know how other universities work, but I learned to believe in myself by receiving the best support for my education and future while I am studying in Sophia.

Download the PDF of this Internationalization of Japanese Universities

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.