OSU to ICU: Scholarships to Study in Japan

He's gonna be so ZEN.

Hello readers!

I’m not a JapanNewbie anymore, as you know… So I rely on my real JapanNewbie friends to provide insight into what life is like when you’re heading towards Japan nowadays.

You may remember David from this previous post covering the intensive Japanese program at OSU. Well, David is back, and he is almost set to move to Japan for a one year exchange program!

David has provided some valuable information about the application process and also, and perhaps more importantly, he introduces a myriad of scholarships that can help pay for study abroad in Japan. This is valuable stuff.

Here we have it, straight from David’s mouth… (Well, his email really.)

The rest is after the break, enjoy!

Hey all, I’m David. I’ll be studying abroad in Japan at the International Christian University (ICU) in Tokyo, Japan. This will be a year-long exchange through Ohio State University where I am now a student.

First off I’d like to say that it is a pleasure to be writing for JapanNewbie. This will be an on-going series about my exchange program.

With year-long exchange programs like this one, preparation is everything. The application process itself took from October 2011 when I was asking professors for recommendation letters and writing my personal statement for the initial application until early March 2012! That’s six months just to get through the application process. There was an initial application with a personal statement, a supplemental follow-up application that also required a rationale for my program selection and a sample of my writing in Japanese, and this was just to get an interview. The interview in my case was an hour and a half and had both English and Japanese parts. I only had to wait one week to see if I had been accepted by OSU. And since I was, there was then an application for ICU.

In order to apply for ICU I had to prepare a crazy amount of documents. It took me a month just to get everything together. This was by far the most annoying process, and it required yet another personal statement. Pair this up with all the scholarships I applied for and I wrote maybe 10 personal statements. If, for fun, you’ve ever picked a word and said over and over and over again, you start to notice it losing its meaning temporarily. Well, that’s about how mind numbing it is to write and rewrite the same ideas over and over.

Now all the applications are behind me and I just have to wait. There is an orientation session I have to attend in April, I believe. And we aren’t supposed to buy our plane tickets until we’ve received official notice from our host institutions of our acceptance. On one level I’m excited because I don’t think ICU will reject my application, but at the same time, I’m still super nervous because there’s the possibility. What’s more is, I am also waiting to hear back from all the scholarships I’ve applied for!

The scholarships I considered were: The Louise Zung-Nyi Loh Memorial Scholarship, The Boren Awards Scholarship, The Gilman, AATJ Bridging Scholarship, Hashi.org’s scholarship, as well as some local scholarships in OSU’s Arts and Sciences college for studying abroad. Also, as part of my application to ICU, I was given an application for a JASSO scholarship, which, above all the others I hope I can receive. The JASSO scholarship gives an 80,000 yen per month stipend to award recipients. At the current exchange rate for the duration of my exchange program, that’s over $10,000.

My goal was to not have to pay for this year with any loan money, so I’ve also been working part-time at a Japanese restaurant to get some language practice in as well as save up some money. It means so much to have the support of my boss and workmates who have helped me get back and forth to work. (Never took my driver’s test so I don’t have a license or car.)

The hardest part is going to be leaving everyone. There are certainly a few individuals that come to mind that I’m going to miss like crazy. I’ve already imagined what it’s going to be like on my last day of work at the restaurant and what it’ll be like to say goodbye to my parents and friends. I feel really anxious about how I’ll change in a year and how different America will seem when I return. I haven’t thought much about the actual time I’ll spend in Japan. While I’m there I am planning on studying the language full-time while taking every opportunity to use the language because I want to make this year really count. I’m really excited to finally have a chance to meet some of the great people I’ve only gotten to talk to on Skype and Twitter.

Anyways, I’ve only got another five and a half months left before my departure, and I still have so much to prepare. Packing, moving my stuff back to my parents house, working to save more money, and leveling up my Japanese so I can hit the ground running once I get there. I get chills just thinking about it! Culture shock? Jet lag? Language barrier? Bring it on! Here I come Japan!

And there you have it! We’ll hear more from David as he continues to prepare for his first overseas adventure.

– JapanNewbie