On 14th March, the Instagram profile @tohoku.ryugaku1 announced the launch of the website ‘Tohoku Ryugaku’. Aimed at telling stories from study abroad programs and helping aspiring exchange students with country/course selection and applications, it is established by the students of Tohoku University who are currently studying abroad. “We are also planning to help aspiring students with reviewing of application documents,” the website wrote in its introduction section.
Japan has long battled the challenge of low and decreasing number of Japanese university students studying abroad. About 70% of Japanese companies with overseas operations have complained about difficulties in finding and nurturing of globally minded talent. With the introduction of the ‘Japan Revitalisation Strategy’ by the cabinet in 2013, the government aims to double the number of students studying abroad by 2020. In such a situation, support facilities such as experiences of other students plays a key role in leading the change.
With 718 partners as of March 13, 2018, Tohoku University’s global network provides plethora of opportunities for students to engage in study abroad programs. Yuto Katsuyama, a student of Chemistry at Tohoku University is currently studying at University of California, Berkeley (UCB) for one year. He shall be joining UCLA from May 15 this year as a visiting researcher. One of the first few students to write for ‘Tohoku Ryugaku’, he explains the procedures to enter UCB along with his experiences in California. “There are so many professors who have more than 6,000 citations! It is also easy to access them and have one-to-one conversations,” he writes in his blog on the website.
For Katsuyama, there were several experiences that were new to him. “It is a bit scary when barricades are put up and you can see police officers with rifles whenever there are protests on the campus but the classes on these days are cancelled too,” he writes. In all, the overall experience is something he cherishes the most as he gets to step into the world of elite. One exchange student at University of California, Irvine has written how his baseball friends got to practice with Shohei Otani, the professional Japanese baseball pitcher and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels.
The statistics from MEXT, JASSO and JAOS have shown an increase in the number of outbound students by 15% between 2015 and 2016. As more and more students apply for outbound programs, support websites like ‘Tohoku Ryugaku’ by the current batch of study abroad students will surely act as a pillar of strength and motivation.
- More than 200,000 Japanese students aborad in 2016 : http://monitor.icef.com/2018/01/200000-japanese-students-abroad-2016/
- About Tobitate! (Leap for Tomorrow) Study Abroad Inititaive : http://www.tobitate.mext.go.jp/about/english.html
- Tohoku University Partners, International Exchange Division : http://ie.bureau.tohoku.ac.jp/partners?lang=en
As reported by Team Sentinel
The featured image is a screenshot of the website’s homepage.