University of Tokyo
Graduate School of Public Policy
Period of study abroad
Sep 2019 - Aug 2021
What did you do before studying in Japan?
University Student at the National University of Singapore, doing Computer Science.
Why did you chose to study in Japan?
As someone who studied and spent most of my life in Singapore, I wanted to broaden my horizons and also grow on a personal level by living in a foreign country. I’ve had short-term exchange programmes in the US, and at the Tokyo Institute of Technology as well, and Japan suits my personal living preferences better than Western countries. Especially for a foreign student, the freedom to travel, explore, and feel safe while being alone overseas is an invaluable thing. Academically as well, Japan complements Singapore’s education well as it also combines Western thought with an Asian perspective. Being able to live in Japan also allows you to freely experience the four seasons, and see what nature has to offer.
How was your student life in Japan?
I did a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Tokyo, and wrote a research paper on “Non-fare Revenue Systems of Railways in Asia”. Being in an international course, I got to interact with students from various nationalities around the world, and experience sort of a melting pot of thoughts and ideas in class. I was also the President of the Graduate School of Public Policy Student Council, and it was fun helping to organize events like orientation to help better integrate the juniors into the course and living in Japan.
I am also the President of the Singapore Students’ Association (Japan), and it’s been really nice to try and help build a “home away from home” for Singaporeans. We organized more frequent smaller scale activities, built chat groups for different regions and interests, got discounts from Singaporean restaurants in Tokyo, and also arrange internship and job-hunting opportunities for our students. I’ve also made numerous close friends via the organization, and I’m also really thankful to be able to give back to the organization and help other people in turn. This is also why we launched studyinjapan.sg, a portal to help encourage more Singaporeans to come to Japan and experience for themselves what studying in Japan is like.
Of course, living in Japan is not just about the work. It’s a great country to travel around with friends, via train or by rental car. During winter break, I actually drove from Tokyo, all the way down to Yamaguchi, then around Shikoku and back, and it was a really fun road trip. My favorite season is Autumn, with the beautiful Koyo leaves turning red. I also highly recommend checking out Miyajima, the Shimanami Kaido, Takayama, and the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, these are all places with excellent sights around Japan.
Please tell us about your career after studying in Japan and the reason why you chose it. If you got a job in Japan or Japanese company in your country, please tell us about your job-hunting experience, especially differences between your country and Japan if any.
I’m currently doing a gap year of internships in Japan before heading back to Singapore. I’ll be working for the Singaporean civil service after I get back to help contribute back, and also share my perspectives from studying in Japan. I’m currently interning at Enterprise Singapore, Tokyo Office, a Singaporean government organization that of its many responsibilities, also helps Singaporean companies expand to Japan.
In terms of job-hunting, from what I’ve seen, it tends to be quite different from Singapore. Japan relies on many centralized systems such as examinations, group interviews, and that long shuukatsu process to try and choose an individual that they hope will stay in the company for decades. Singapore’s processes are a lot shorter, usually applications direct to companies which then judge you based on your CV and interview. Job hopping is also a lot more common in Singapore, so people see their first job as simply a stepping stone into the working world to gain more experience. People perceive value in gaining experiences from different companies, and different experiences, to better contribute to their jobs,
Any message and/or advice to those who wish to study and work in Japan?
Coming to study in Japan is a surreal experience, and I highly recommend other people to come and try it for themselves. I really hope that more Singaporeans choose to come to Japan and study rather than going to the usual countries so as to experience something different. I wish all my future juniors all the best in their studies here in Japan.