Q1. What is your name? What university do you study at? What is your current major or focus of study?
My name is Chen Yu. I am Chinese. I am a student at Keio University's doctoral course in law.
Q2. What prompted your decision to come to Japan and study?
When I decided to take a master's course in law, I first thought about going to the United States or Britain since we learn English at junior high and high school in China. But when it comes to law studies, the Japanese legal system is civil law, which is the same as in China, while the system in the U.S. and the U.K. is different (common law). Also, I had a cousin studying in Japan and had heard that life was not too difficult here.
Q3. How did you choose the university?
Actually, Keio is not a well-known name in China, despite its high reputation in Japan. However, my university (Fudan in Shanghai) has a relationship with Keio so it was easy to collect information from the school office or Fudan students who had done exchange studies with Keio.
I also checked the Internet to see what people thought about Keio. As studying overseas is popular in China, we have many good online resources for information. I found that Keio had a reputation for being supportive of students.
I wavered between Waseda and Keio, but Keio had fewer overseas students — 300 to Waseda's 1,500 — so I thought I'd have a better chance of getting a scholarship.
When I decided to take a doctoral course, I came back to Keio largely because of my regent professor, who helped me a lot when I was in graduate school, and encouraged me to return and study in Japan.
Q4. Please describe some of the difficulties you first had in Japan:
I didn't study Japanese at all before I came to Japan, so it was mostly language problems in daily life, especially at my part-time job at an izakaya (Japanese pub). However, my Japanese friends were kind and tried to teach me Japanese, rather than leaving me out of conversations. I lived at my cousin's place so I didn't have any real problems finding accommodation.
But I think Japan's scholarship system is a problem. Compared to the U.S., Japan doesn't have many scholarships that you can apply for or receive money from before coming to Japan. You usually need to apply for scholarships through the university after arriving here.
Q5. Do you have any useful places you visit often?
During my master's course, I was very busy studying and working, so I didn't visit many places off the campus. I spent a lot of time in the university library. I would be there all day during the summer holidays. Also, the university student union bookstore has a good range of books, so I used go there often.
Q6. During your stay in Japan, please describe a typical day:
During my master's course, my days were pretty much routine:
Leave home at 7 a.m., attend classes or study in the library from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., work at the izakaya from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., arrive home around midnight.
Every Thursday, I had a regular get-together with my seminar members and my professor instead of working part-time.
Typical monthly expenses:
30,000 yen - Rent: sharing 3LDK apartment with two people
5,000 yen - Utilities
5,000 yen - Telephone
7,000 yen - Transportation
40,000 yen - Food
20,000 yen - Others: social expenses, books, etc.
Total: 110,000 yen
Q7. What kind of information would you pass along to people who want to study in Japan in the future?
I think you should study Japanese to some extent before you come.
You should have a clear goal. Life will be busy and tough, so if you don't have a clear vision of what you want, what you are aiming for, you will lose your direction.
2002 Graduated from Department of Literature, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
2002-2004 Worked at a Chinese company (1.5 years)
2004 Keio University International Center Japanese-Language Program (2 years)
2006 Keio University Graduate School of Law (2 years)
2008 Worked at the Shanghai branch of a Japanese bank (1 year)
2009 Keio University doctoral course in law