2023-08-01

Success Story-26243

Summary

After graduating from Jilin University, he entered the postgraduate school of Kyoto University as a master’s student, specializing in economics. Studied Japanese during his undergraduate studies and has a high level of Japanese, having obtained JLPT N1. Multilingual, speaking Chinese, English, and Japanese, with potential for global activities. In his bachelor’s graduation research, he studied population aging and social security in Japan and China.

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Profile

Countries & Regions
China
University
Jilin University
Major
Mathematics for Economics, Microeconomics Analysis, Statistical Data Analysis
Education
Master
Company
Manufacturer of transportation equipment, primarily motorcycles

Desire to engage in enjoyable studying! Encountering the Japanese language. 

Encountering the Japanese language was truly a coincidence. In the context of Chinese university entrance examinations, there is a common trend among liberal arts students to choose “economics for the time being” or “law for the time being.” I was one of those who followed that trend. Although I entered the economics department, to be honest, I did not find it enjoyable to study and developed a dislike for economics. While the economics department had students from both liberal arts and science backgrounds, I considered myself weaker in logical reasoning and calculations, so I felt the need to try studying something different. 

Therefore, during my second year of university, I decided to pursue a minor in a foreign language offered by the university’s language school. I already had a slight interest in languages. Initially, I wanted to study Korean, but it was not offered as a minor. When I considered Spanish, I learned that the professor was abroad, resulting in no classes that year. German was also on the list, but it had high performance requirements, and I didn’t receive any results. In the end, the only available language left for me to take was Japanese. I knew nothing about Japanese, but I submitted the application anyway and later received an email informing me that it was approved. Thus, I started attending Japanese classes. 

After attending the classes for about two sessions, I found the teaching method and content to be interesting, and studying was not burdensome for me. So, I decided to continue. When I was in my third year of university, my Japanese teacher said to me, “Since you are studying a foreign language, why don’t you go to a country where this language is spoken in the mother tongue and get a feel of what it is like there?”  

This made sense to me, and I felt a strong desire to visit Japan. From there, I followed up on the exchange programs offered by schools in China and Japan, but most of them required N1 or N2, so it was difficult to find one that suited me. In the meantime, I happened to hear from a classmate that a finance professor from Tohoku University in Japan had introduced him to a regional reconstruction program at Tohoku University that the professor’s junior was running. Through the classmate who told me this story, the professor, and the junior colleague of that professor, who was the program leader, I ended up going to Miyagi Prefecture to participate in the program. Since it was a great opportunity, I decided to visit the local university and see what it had to offer. I went to Tohoku University, even though it was not part of the program. Although it was in the center of the city, Tohoku University was quiet and had a completely different atmosphere from Chinese universities, making it a very ideal environment for me. My university was quite lively, but I prefer a calm atmosphere. When I went to Miyagi, I was still thinking about going to a Chinese graduate school, but I started thinking about going to a Japanese university like Tohoku University, which is both calm and world-renowned. 

 

Pursuing Graduate Studies for the Dream of Japanese Universities 

After returning to China, I began to wonder whether I would study in Japan. Since I started taking Japanese language classes, I did some research on graduate schools in Japan that were good in economics, but when I came back from Japan and reconsidered, I still could not say what my major was in economics, and I was not confident about studying that in Japanese. While researching graduate schools in Japan, I was studying for the graduate school examinations for Chinese universities. I was feeling desperate because I was struggling with mathematics, which I was not good at even though I was studying it every day. I strongly felt that I still wanted to go to Japan, and by the summer of my junior year or the beginning of my senior year, my mind was already made up. 

Therefore, during my fourth year, based on the recommendation of my classmates, I took up a part-time job in the university’s administrative office to save money. Additionally, as my classmates progressed with their preparations for graduate school and job hunting, I found myself becoming increasingly busy as the class representative, responsible for attendance, discipline, cleaning, procuring necessary supplies for class, and assisting teachers. To be honest, my fourth year was consumed by these two roles, and my preparation for graduate school was limited to studying lightly for the N1 and TOEFL exams. Naturally, neither of them went remarkably well. As a result, I only started preparing in earnest for graduate school after graduation. 

In the end, I decided to apply to Japanese graduate programs in the field of economics. The catalyst for this decision was the course I took in Japanese economy during my third year, which I found intriguing and enjoyable. The professor, who had obtained a Ph.D. in economics in Japan, made me realize my potential interest in this field of study. Moreover, having persevered and completed the course over the course of four years, I felt it would be a waste to switch to another specialization. I decided to seek advice from that professor and went to visit him along with a friend who was interested in studying abroad. While I had already made up my mind, my friend, who couldn’t speak a word of Japanese, immediately decided to pursue graduate studies in Japan after the consultation (laughs). 

At first, my parents were vehemently opposed to my studying abroad and strongly advised me to continue my education in China. However, I steadily prepared on my own. I took the TOEFL and N1 in September after graduating from university, and the TOEFL was not bad, and I passed the N1. I was planning to take the TOEFL once more after the new year to improve my score when the COVID-19 epidemic started. To be honest, it was very hard for me to stay at home during the COVID disaster and I had a lot of trouble preparing for it. During all this, in April, the selection process for graduate school became only document screening, and I was able to receive an acceptance from Kyoto University. It was very happy news, and I was glad that I had not given up. I had never been to Kyoto University before, but it was famous for economics, and of course, the university itself was well known, so I went there. 

 

Language Barrier Despite Obtaining N1 Proficiency 

When I entered Kyoto University’s graduate program and made the decision to go to Japan, I had already set my sights on finding employment in Japan. The competition within China, especially in the financial sector, was extremely fierce, and it felt like a constant struggle to stay ahead, or risk being eliminated. Frankly, I had grown tired of that environment, and hearing from friends and seniors who had found jobs that the working conditions were also extremely challenging, I wanted to explore other possibilities. While I understood that Japanese society was also competitive, I thought it might be interesting to experience it as a foreigner or international student. 

Kyoto, as well as Kyoto University, offered a wonderful environment. While it may not have been as bustling as Tokyo or Osaka, it was still a quiet and livable place. Kyoto University had a unique campus atmosphere. On snowy days, students occasionally change the university’s main gate sign from “Kyoto University” to “Tokyo University,” “Peking University,” or “Tsinghua University.” There were also quirky signs around the campus. Since my impression of Japanese universities had been shaped by my visit to Tohoku University, I was surprised by the differences when I arrived at Kyoto University (laughs). 

After starting to live in Japan, I was taken aback by the language barrier. Although I had obtained N1 proficiency, there were still many things in daily life and at school that I simply couldn’t understand. While having Japanese language skills at the N1 level might be considered sufficient for graduate studies and job opportunities in Japan to some extent, for me, language was the biggest obstacle. Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, I arrived in Japan in May. Until then, as long as I could see the slides for class, I was fine. However, in face-to-face classes, I had to listen to the professor’s lecture while also paying attention to the slides, so I found myself in a state of confusion during class and honestly couldn’t grasp much. I couldn’t understand the professor’s words due to the language aspect, and when I tried to concentrate on that, I couldn’t read the slides carefully. On the other hand, if I focused too much on the slides, I couldn’t keep up with the professor’s lecture. It was truly challenging. Even in daily life, I couldn’t understand simple phrases like “Would you like a bag?” or “What payment method would you like to use?” at supermarkets or convenience stores, and I couldn’t comprehend them. Especially during the first semester, it felt as if I had no ears at all. It was quite difficult, to be honest. 

 

Uncertain Future Direction and a Series of Setbacks 

Amidst all this, I had gained a general understanding of the job-hunting process in Japan, so I decided to give it a try, although things didn’t go very well for me. Since I was studying economics, I applied to a few companies in the finance industry just for the sake of it, but I was mostly rejected. Looking back now, I wasn’t genuinely interested in the finance industry, and I was not motivated whatsoever. Around March, towards the end of the second semester, when various companies started releasing their job-hunting information, I began contemplating my capabilities and started thinking about the possibility of delaying my graduation if I were to seriously engage in job hunting. I consulted my supervisor, who advised me that it would be better to graduate as soon as possible if I could. Despite my concerns, I decided to advance to my third year at that stage. 

From then on, I continued to ponder my options in each situation that arose. Occasionally, I applied to a few companies. It was during this time that I came across Fast Offer International and registered without any expectations. As I had discussions with the staff from ASIA to JAPAN and took the time to reflect, I gradually started to understand my interests in terms of industries and job positions. Although I had been pursuing finance simply because I had been studying economics, I realized that I wasn’t truly interested in it and that it required strong communication skills, which I felt I lacked. Furthermore, I concluded that sales positions were also not suitable for me. I considered IT companies that didn’t place a high emphasis on Japanese language proficiency and recruited many international students. However, I had previously tried learning programming and found it to be a poor fit. I applied to one company in that field as well, but at that time, again I lacked motivation, hadn’t prepared adequately, and ended up being rejected. As you know, it is human nature not to try when there’s no motivation. 

 

Chance Encounter and a Last Stand 

Amidst all this, I happened to come across the manufacturing industry and had the opportunity to learn about its atmosphere. It seemed to align well with my interests, and I found several products within that industry that I was genuinely interested in. While researching about the manufacturing industry, I received a message from Fast Offer International asking if I would be interested in applying to the current company that offered me a job in the transportation equipment manufacturing field. At that moment, I thought, “This is it!” I have always been interested in vehicles, be it motorcycles, cars, buses, or trains, since I was a child. Additionally, compared to other manufacturers, their products were more relatable to daily life and easier to understand, which was one of the reasons why I found them appealing. I also felt that I was suited to the position because the job opening was a kind of buyer’s position. Thus, I decided to apply to this company. At that time, I was on the verge of submitting my graduation thesis, and if I submitted my master’s thesis and it passed the evaluation, I would be able to graduate. However, I had been reluctant to graduate without having secured a job, and I was still pondering whether to delay my graduation. Although my graduation thesis was almost completed, I had been indecisive about submitting it, and I decided that if I didn’t receive a job offer from this company, I wouldn’t submit it even on the deadline day. I had been lacking motivation and struggling to determine my direction, but finally, I found a company that I was genuinely interested in and wanted to work for, and from there, I began preparing earnestly. 

 

Challenges in the Selection Process and the Importance of Japanese Language 

During the selection process, the biggest obstacle for me was undoubtedly the Japanese language. I had no issues with the web tests like SPI or the math section of Tamatebako, but I found the language part to be difficult. While preparing for interviews, a mentor told me, “If you can’t express yourself in Japanese, it’s okay to use English.” I tried using English, but it didn’t fully convey my thoughts, and I remember the mentor being perplexed, saying, “Hmm, neither Japanese nor English…” The problem was that I had a process of translating from Chinese to Japanese in my mind, which took time, and since I didn’t major in Japanese, I couldn’t proficiently use professional-level Japanese. Nevertheless, the mentor patiently supported me and drilled me on word choice, expressions, and behavior. The mentor repeatedly emphasized, “It’s crucial to relax and give the impression of being energetic and proactive.” Moreover, I had a tendency not to check emails regularly and to procrastinate on tasks, so during the selection process, the staff at ASIA to JAPAN used WeChat to remind me multiple times, which helped me maintain a sense of urgency until the end. Thanks to that, I managed to complete the process with a sense of determination and ultimately received a job offer. Furthermore, I successfully submitted my graduation thesis and confirmed that I would graduate. (laughs) 

 

Japanese Language is a Must If You Come to Japan! Clarify Your Direction 

If I were to convey a message to everyone, it would be to study Japanese relentlessly, improve your vocabulary, and make the utmost effort to master not only commonly used expressions and phrases but also professional language usage. If you have a desire to come to Japan, especially if you want to find a job and settle here, I believe this is an absolute necessity. It has been a few years since I started learning Japanese, and I have been living in Japan for nearly two years, yet I still keenly feel that my Japanese language ability is insufficient daily. Japanese was extremely challenging during job hunting as well. I had moments when I was asked questions for which I hadn’t prepared, and I couldn’t come up with the appropriate Japanese words, leading me to say things that were completely different from what I intended or failing to convey my thoughts effectively. No matter how good your ideas or thoughts are, they are meaningless if you can’t communicate them. So, please do your best in learning Japanese! 

Additionally, as mentioned above, I struggled to determine my future direction, and I didn’t have a clear understanding of my own interests, which resulted in a lack of motivation. I believe it’s essential to clearly identify the direction you want to pursue in the future and make plans accordingly. If you’re unsure, start by thinking about where you want to be in three or five years, and how you envision yourself. That will help you gain some clarity. 

Living in Japan can be challenging, especially in terms of language, but it’s a wonderful environment. Keep striving! 

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