Name: Mr. Maung Guan Yun Kenwin
"The world is too big for one to remain permanently rooted in one place!!"
Currently studying under Waseda University, School of Political Science and Economics, B.A. in Global Political Economy, in the English-based Degree Studies September Admission Program (EDESSA)
- Primary: Fengshan Primary School
- Secondary: Victoria School
- High school: Victoria Junior College
Q. You went to Waseda University straight from local Junior College. What led you to choose to study in Japan?
I was interested in pursuing both economics and political science in a joint degree, a choice that was not readily available locally during my time of application. I was familiar with Waseda because I had attended a campus tour of the university back when I was in high school, and when I searched for more information on Waseda upon graduation from high school, I was thrilled to find out that they offered a program in political economy.
On a personal level, my father used to work in Japan for about 8 years, so I frequently visited Japan and got to be familiar with Japanese culture. When I finished Junior College, I wanted to experience living independently in a new culture. I strongly believe that the world is too big for one to remain permanently rooted in one place. Japan is a great destination because not only is the country safe, the cost of tertiary education in Japan is also comparable to the fees of local universities.
Q. How do you find the school and the program so far?
The School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University, is a reputable and established institution in Japan. The school provides many opportunities such as internship offers at Japanese firms, exclusive exchange programs, research appointments, and generous scholarship funding. Furthermore, the international program that I am enrolled in, EDESSA, is a convenient solution for foreign students like me who would like to study in English while experiencing a new culture. The vibrant international student body at EDESSA has also offered me the valuable opportunity to interact with students from various countries and backgrounds, and to construct friendship that extends beyond borders.
In general, I believe Japanese universities are great because they tend to accord students with a significant degree of liberty. If one is interested in research or academics, Japanese universities, in particular Waseda, offers many opportunities to pursue, along with the funding. If academics is not a major priority, you can focus on other activities in the pursuit of a career or in establishing a start-up. The university acts as a platform that offers many preparatory seminars and a well-established alumni network to tap into, especially in Japan.
However, liberty is a double-edged sword and unfortunately some students take advantage of it. It is not uncommon to see students who are not serious in their work. The opportunities are plenty in Japan and the universities are as good as you make them to be.
Q. Had you studied Japanese prior to coming to Japan?
I did self-study Japanese for a few months before coming to Japan, but it was insufficient. After coming to Waseda, I enrolled in Japanese language classes for about 2 years. Currently, I take some regular classes together with Japanese students.
Q. What is your future dream, and how does it relate to what you do now?
I would like to participate in economic research in the future because I think that would be a good way to directly contribute to society. The retreat of reason and facts in recent years highlight the need for more education and more importantly, better communication of knowledge, which is a process that I would like to be part of.
As such, I do not plan to seek employment in Japan, but I can see myself coming back to Japan to engage in research work. Japanese economy and society face many problems that people think are representative of what other advanced nations may face in the future. It would thus be of great value to study in Japan and I am sure what I have learned here including the Japanese language, would be invaluable in my future.
Q. Any message to students studying Japanese, or students who are considering to study in a university in Japan?
Studying in Japan is akin to taking a wide step outside of your comfort zone. Even though you may be highly fluent in the language, it takes time to be accustomed to the social norms and the unwritten laws that govern much of Japanese culture and personal interaction. It takes time to find new friends, and to build up a social network from scratch. At times, you may feel defeated, and may start to think about the what ifs: what if I had gone instead to a local university?
However, at the end of the day, when you look around and see the new friends that you have made, the new language that you have picked up, and a new appreciation for a very unique culture, all your worries melt away. With less than a year before I graduate, I am glad to say that I do not regret my choice to live and study in Japan, and I hope that you would have the same opportunity to experience this country like I did.