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Voices of International Students

Purevdorj Baasan, Faculty of Economics

Purevdorj Baasan

Name: Purevdorj Baasan
Course: Economic systems
Home Country: Mongolia

Hi. How time flies! It has already been five years since I arrived in Japan. First, I would like to explain how I came to Japan. During my last year of junior high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I had no idea about where to go or even how to do it. I only knew I wanted to. At that precise moment my older sister came to see me. She was studying Japanese language at the University of Mongolia, and she had the opportunity to study in Japan for one year on a student exchange program. When she finished her exchange program in Japan, she came back to Mongolia and told me how fantastic studying in Japan was. She told me about the challenges she had faced and what a great experience it had been. Her story had a strong impact on me, and it led me to decide to study abroad in Japan and seek new challenges and dream new dreams.

The first place I came to in Japan was Shizuoka, the prefecture of Japanese tea. I entered a Japanese high school and began my life here. My schooling hadn’t prepared me for life in Japan. Since I couldn’t speak Japanese at all, I had tremendous difficulty communicating with Japanese people. As soon as I realized how important fluency in Japanese was to me, I put my whole heart into studying it. Japanese food was another problem for me because in Mongolia we don’t eat much fish or seafood, and we certainly don’t eat “natto,” but with the help of my Japanese friends and teachers, I managed to overcome all the difficulties. Japanese people are very kind.

Life in Japan has taught me independence and responsibility. Although I lived in the school dorm, I had to cook my own meals, clean my own clothes, and do all sorts of things for myself. I also had to get used to the sempai-kouhai relationship, which doesn’t exist in Mongolia. I didn’t like it at first, because I had the impression that it was just a kind of bullying. I learned, however, that kouhai are treated very well and that they can always seek help from their sempai.

After graduating high school, I had to take the same university entrance exams that Japanese students have to take. I passed (just barely) both the Center Exam and the Saga University Entrance Exam thanks to the brilliant help of my high school teachers. They taught me lots of things, and I am deeply grateful to them.

Entering Saga University I faced new challenges. For the first time I had to pay my own bills, live alone, and fend for myself. Living and studying here in Saga has given me the opportunity to bond with people from all over the world. Some people say that Saga is “the sticks,” but there are many international students here. As far as I’m concerned, Saga is a great place to study, to hang out, and to travel with unique and fantastic students!

Tran Xuan Sang, Graduate School of Science and Engineering

Tran Xuan Sang

Name: Tran Xuan Sang
Course: Graduate School of Science and Engineering
Home Country: Vietnam

Hello. My name is Tran Xuan Sang from Vinh, Vietnam. Currently, I’m a third year PhD student at Saga University. Studying in Japan had been my dream since I was an undergraduate student. I would like to express my deep gratitude to MEXT scholarship for making my dream come true.

In my opinion, it is very convenient and comfortable to live and study in Saga. This city is really quite, clean and calm, which provides a better environment for studying. The people are so nice, kind and always willing to help. The lecturers and staffs at Saga University are extremely helpful and very devoted to their job. The International Student Division is always ready to assist me in any way possible. So far, I have not only enhanced my knowledge in my field of research but I also have learned many helpful things through my daily life in Japan. This is a very meaningful and unforgettable time in my life.

Lahiru Jayakody, The Graduate School of Agricultural Science,
Kagoshima University

Lahiru Jayakody

Name: Lahiru Jayakody
Course: The United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Kagoshima University
Home Country: Sri Lanka

I am currently pursuing a doctoral degree in applied biological science at Saga University. My interests encouraged me to pursue intense studies of bio-fuel production and sustainable management of natural resources for future energy demands. In this regard, I strongly believe that the knowledge, skills, and experience I am acquiring through my current studies will make me a notably productive researcher in my field.

When I started looking for opportunities to study overseas with the dream of pursuing an advanced degree, I was fortunate to receive information about the PSJP master’s degree program at Saga University. I was fortunate to receive a scholarship funded by the Monbukagakusho and began my studies in October 2009 under an eminent young Japanese researcher at the Graduate School of Agriculture, and I have continued my research on bio-fuel production at a well-equipped laboratory here.

I was pleased and satisfied with the fruitful results of two years in the master’s degree program. During that time, I was able to acquire both insightful knowledge and technological expertise while contributing novel research findings to the world community. All of this reflects the fact that though Saga University is categorized as a small university in Japan, it is a superior place to carry out research and study. Furthermore, there are world-class researchers here working on practical, advanced research topics. Since some of these have direct industrial links, the university has a great research network. Without question, students can embark on a great research career at Saga University.

In addition to my research, I enjoy music as a hobby. I played keyboard in a band in Sri Lanka for more than seven years. I thought I wouldn’t have any chance to pursue my musical interests in Japan, but fortunately, I discovered the Saga University Jazz Club. I joined and learned to play guitar, and I continue to hone my skills. As a result, I’ve made many friends, who are a source of happiness each and every day. I now perform with the Saga University International Student Band. I am really enjoying my life and my music here. There are many different clubs, circles, and group activities at Saga University, so students can have a great time here.

Saga is a splendid, small city with an abundance of natural beauty and a charming sense of ancient Japanese culture. It is a beautiful, calm environment. In spring you can experience the relaxing beauty of cherry blossoms everywhere. In autumn, moreover, Saga City hosts the annual International Balloon Festival, so the sky is filled with colorful balloons, which is an enthralling sight. Not only that, my third eye always beckons me to sunset on the Ariake Sea. It is really awesome and a fascinating place to shoot photos. Also, the people in Saga are honest, friendly, kind hearted, and helpful. This glorious, calm environment helps to ensure a pleasant learning experience.

Although the Japanese language was initially one of the great barriers for me to move around easily in society, there are plenty of opportunities to learn Japanese both at Saga University and from volunteer language teachers outside the University. They are ready and willing to help students improve their language skills. One of the other great things about Saga University is the staff. They provide all the necessary support in dealing with administrative matters and offer kind-hearted guidance whenever we need it.

I strongly believe Saga University is the best place to explore up-to-date knowledge and cutting-edge technology in my field. I strongly feel that the knowledge and experience I am acquiring in my doctoral course will allow me to realize to my dreams for the future: to help create a better world through my activities as a scientist, researcher, social worker, and patriotic citizen. Finally, I just want to say that Saga University is a great gateway to explore Japan. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to become a student at this dynamic, leading university.

Aleishea Yamaoka, SPACE 2010-2011

Aleishea Yamaoka

Name: Aleishea Yamaoka
Course: SPACE program 2010-2011
Home Country: the United States

Already 4 months into my study abroad experience at Saga University and I can’t imagine how fast time is flying.

Although I have experienced Japan from nearly head to toe in previous years, I have never experienced Japan the way I did in Saga. Being here has changed me in many ways more than I can even express in words. From overcoming homesickness, to being more outgoing and making friends, to remaining open-minded and being spontaneous, this is the life of my studying abroad experience.

Despite Saga being called country-side, there was no other place I have been to with as many international people as Saga. Being here has given me the opportunity to bond and create close relationships with people all over the world! The students of SPACE have interesting and unique personalities. We eat, hang out, and have fun together as a group almost as if we are a family.

Barely did I need any adjustment to school life as much as I did with actual everyday life. Being that this is the first time living in my own apartment, paying my own bills, and cooking my own meals, it has really taught me about independence, responsibility, and bravery. In everyday life I find that even having the fundamentals of Japanese can take one a long way compared to someone with no knowledge of the language. I am lucky to know enough to even understand what internet and gas companies when they call to discuss billing issues!

Looking out from my perspective, I learned more about Japanese culture a lot more now as I think about it. How students respect teachers and coaches is impressive. Their discipline and politeness is beyond belief! It’s amazing to me how relationship-oriented Japanese people are.

As one of the very few westerners in the university, we clearly notice the sempai-kohai (senior-junior) relationship among the students. Kohai’s are very well taken care of and as a student with no sempai to seek for help; I really can’t help but to feel lonely and left out. But it’s okay because I know in my heart; I will leave Japan with something more precious and valuable than no one else. The experiences of study abroad comes in a package with both good and bad memories and a list of challenges—but either way I am sure these experiences will better me as a person, make me stronger, and make a big impact to my future life.

Saga has so much history and tradition that I even one year abroad is not enough to discover them all. Saga, a small town yet flourished with cultural assets that describe true Japanese culture. I cannot express how deeply satisfied and delighted I am to be here.

I can already feel how much I will miss being here. Time goes by so quickly, and soon Saga will only remain as emotional tears streaming down my face holding all the good memories of my experience. I strongly encourage students to take advantage of study abroad. It’s not only for students learning a language, but for those who strive to broaden their horizons and reach out to learn about the world. College is the best time of your life to take this opportunity, because you will never be so young and free again. This is the best time to learn about yourself, your background, your own home and country, and the people, culture, and country where you are studying. You learn to take risks, take charge, and enjoy every bit of it. When I return to my home country and step onto US soil, I will smile, a very big smile, knowing that I had made a good choice to study abroad at Saga University and will not regret a single thing.

Dilan Rasika Dissanayake, SPACE 2010-2011

Dilan Rasika Dissanayake

Name: Dilan Rasika Dissanayake
Course: SPACE program 2010-2011
Home Country: Sri Lanka

I am Dilan Rasika, a Sri Lankan student who has been studying at Saga University, Japan, as an exchange student of SPACE program since October 2010. I am an undergraduate of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, majoring in Animal Science as a fourth year student. As many of the other foreign students who are studying away from their motherland, I also have many things to share with you. So, here onwards I am demonstrating about my experience of being a foreign student at Saga University.

First, I want to say why I decided to study here. Every year, two students who have been excellent in academic work from Faculty of Agriculture and Faculty of Arts of my home university have been selected for the SAPCE program. So, I was fortunate enough to be the representative from my faculty last year. I considered this opportunity is a valuable and rare chance for an undergraduate of a developing country and decided that I should go.

I realize that studying in Saga would be better than other parts of Japan, because it is located on Kyushu Island which doesn’t have much natural disasters as other areas of the country. Moreover, Saga is a silent and calm city which serves a better environment for education and the people are so friendly, helpful and nice.

There are lots of things in Saga that I love. First, the people, including the professors, students and other staff members are very friendly and kind. Furthermore, the surrounding environment is very nice, especially in spring when lots of flowers are blooming. It is a wordless experience to have a cup of coffee while sitting on the wooden benches in front of the cafeteria. This enables everyone to get refreshed with cool and nice air to breath.

It is often said that communication and Japanese educational system may be some huge concerns among the foreign students. I had some difficulties with communication since Japanese people are usually talking only in Japanese. I had never used Japanese before, and I realized the importance of learning it. After 3-4 months my Japanese has grown better enough to communicate with them. However, I hardly found difficulties in the education system as the classes are conducted in English and it was no hard to get adopted.

I know that the finance and friends are also a dominant factor. Been a scholarship holder, the scholarship itself is better enough to cover-up the monthly expenses since the cost of living is much lower in Saga than the other cities in Japan. Indeed, friendship is not a matter here because most of the people are willing to be the friends of us, foreign students. Now I have lots of honest friends here both Japanese & foreigners, and sometimes I feel that I have more honest friends here than in Sri Lanka. I am used to spend my free time with them as much as I can by attending the picnics and other activities which are organized by them.

I want to be a responsible person to my motherland, and I think that being an academic professional is a way to do it since we can share our own knowledge and experience with the next generation. I can say this is my future goal. Finally, I want to say to the future students who are willing to study at Saga University that Saga is the best & calm place with one of the finest environments for studying. From here, you can take an enormous experience which is unable to be found anywhere else. So, don’t miss the chance of studying at Saga University!

Megasari Marsela, SPACE 2010-2011

Megasari Marsela

Name: Megasari Marsela
Course: SPACE program 2010-2011
Home Country: Indonesia

Konnichiwa. Hi, I am Mega. Glad to share with you about my experience in Saga University. I am really enjoying my stay here. As the only Indonesian student in the SPACE 2010-2011 Program, at first, I felt kind of homesick and lonely. This is my first experience living abroad. But soon, I felt good because everybody here is so lovely and helpful. Teachers, staff, and friends were really friendly. Being an international student, I soon found out it isn’t hard to adapt. I am motivated to do my best.

Here, I learned the unique Japanese culture and language. I thought my Japanese language improved quickly because the teacher made the materials more interesting so students can enjoy class more. I also did experiments in the laboratory with Saga University’s professors. The laboratory has high-level technology, and it really supports conducting research there. I joined the 2011 International Students Academic Presentation in Yuanpei University, Taiwan. I travelled many beautiful places, and did so many other great things. Saga University facilitated me both in living and academic skills.

Saga City is very convenient and is such a pretty place. The people are very nice. You will find so many people greet you when you walk around, and make you feel at home. Also, living costs here are student-friendly. I appreciate Saga’s way of taking care of disabled people. They make special facilities for disabled people side by side with others so that disabled people will feel safe and comfortable to go outside by themselves. Saga also gives chances to international students to take part in many programs and to assimilate with citizens. Saga city loves their citizens, which is what I love about Saga.

So many things here impress me. I am sure, I am going to miss my stay Saga in my future. I love you, Saga!

Kanjana Khaeso, Graduate School of Agriculture

Kanjana Khaeso

Name: Kanjana Khaeso
Course: Graduate School of Agriculture
Home Country: Thailand

I’m from Thailand. I’m a student of Saga University belonging to the Faculty of Agriculture, and now I am a second year student of the master’s course.

I had so many expectations for my study aboard in Japan that I didn't think the reality would actually fulfill my dreams, but the people I have met, the places I have seen, and the fascinating culture have made the life here the most amazing experience of my life. I didn't know what to expect when I arrived in Japan, but I was made to feel at ease straight away by the fact that I was greeted at the airport by my teacher (who has been so helpful throughout my stay).

Anyway there is still so much I could say about my great experience, but words just can't express how amazing it is. My memories will stay with me forever - it was the best experience of my life!

Rani Agustina Wulandari, The Graduate School of Agricultural Science,
Kagoshima University

Rani Agustina Wulandari

Name: Rani Agustina Wulandari
Course: The Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kagoshima University
Home Country: Indonesia

I came from Indonesia. I’ve been in Japan more than one year, and I’ll stay here two more years to complete my Ph.D. in Agricultural Science at Saga University. When I first came to Japan, I experienced many difficulties. I found some difficulties because of the language barrier. Even though I had studied Japanese in Indonesia, I found many language differences here. However, I could overcome those difficulties one by one thanks to my seniors, my supervisors, all of my laboratory members, and all of my Japanese language classmates.

I took Japanese language class at Saga University. I was so lucky that other members of the class were SPACE program students, who came from various countries, such as France, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and of course Indonesia. We exchanged information about culture, traditional foods, and traditional customs from our country inside and outside the class. Also, the class was fun, because the teacher taught us by using interesting and unique methods, so my Japanese and English improved quickly.

I enjoy my daily life here with my teachers, professors and friends. We stimulate each other and share joys and sorrows. I also made a lot of Japanese friends. We often go many places and eat together with many foreign students.

About Saga, I like this cozy city. It’s not so crowded. It’s comfortable for student life. In Saga, I can go everywhere by bicycle. My friends in another city cannot do that because of the far distance between their house and university, or because of the hard geographical condition that cannot be reached by bicycle. I become healthier because everyday I do sport by riding bicycle. Besides that, Saga and Kyushu Island have a lot of beautiful places for sightseeing. I enjoy a lot of traditional events (called "Matsuri"), fireworks events ("Hanabi") in summer, and enjoy cherry blossom’s view ("Hanami") in spring. I do enjoy my life in Saga.