I'm in Japan!!!

Interview with Ahmad El Ghafari, graduated in the American University of Technology in Lebanon and now is a Monbukagakusho scholar in Japan. He's a Research/MSc student at Nara Institue of Science and Technology (NAIST) and his major is Software Engineering.

Wanna see more about his experience in Japan and some pictures?? Just visit this page!!

1. What motivated you to study abroad?
1. Seeking knowledge, experience to help in developing and evolution for my nation.
2. To help the academic system.
3. To clean the corruption
4. To get the salary I deserve
5. To afford nice education for my kids.
6. Companies in Arabic world are taking advantages of us.

2. How you selected the country and the university you wanted to study?
I searched for scholarships world wide. I studies some for UK, Canada, US and the MEXT Japanese one. And, the last one was most applicable for me. I tried to contact the embassies exist in my country. From one to another, till I reached the Japanese embassy.

After the application to MEXT scholarship. I had to contact universities in Japan for acceptance by a professor or more. For next screening in the embassy. And, here, we should clarify this, that for MEXT you need an acceptance letter directly by a professor. So, a candidate needs to contact professors personally. To know the professors while you are in your home country. It's like this, after you reach a university on the web, you go to the research topics page, or faculties, or departments, or program, etc. Then you find the program you intend, the research topic. Then, under each research topic or area, you will find list of names of professors who are leading these researches/projects. Or, you find the Laboratories that concern your research topic, and each Lab. does belong to a professor. Here, when you find the lab. that is interesting in what you are, then you find whose professor this lab. belongs for and you contact them. Sometimes, each professor or each lab., running more than one research topic at the same time. In my domain, the name of the Lab. (The title) reflects its interest(s).

I used some web pages like: http://www.webometrics.info/
This link helps you see the universities world wide with their ranks. You can seek by country, and etc.

After I got some acceptance letters from the professors in Japan. I tried to have clearer vision about the university they belong to. For example, in which language the MSc classes are given (even though, I missed!) The weather, The max. and min. temp. degrees in winter/summer. The pollution, daily-life expenses, etc. Don't forget to investigate about the dormitory and the monthly rent, etc.

3. What kind of documentation you needed to prepare?
For the embassy:
-My degree, BSc.
-Transcript of the undergraduate program.
-Abstract thesis
-Application forms provided formally by the Culture Affair Division of Embassy of Japan in my country.
-Field of Study declaration and explanation.
-Recommendations letters (application for referees are provided, too).
-Passport-size photos.

And, for contacting the professors and universities, I used all of them, plus, the first screening pass issued by the embassy declaring that I am basically eligible to be granted.

4.How was the selection process?
1. First submitted by late March 2008, at the embassy, the application forms they provided as followed the guidance.
*The guidance is so difficult, and needs a lot of hard work to understand. Please, take so much care while reading the guidance. It's everything between your hands!

2. In around a month they called to have an English and Japanese languages exam.
We applied around 25 people.

3. I passed the English exam, and I didn't write anything on the Japanese lang. paper, but my name!
*They advised us to take a japanese language course in meanwhile!

4. We were 11 who are called again after 15 days for an interview.
Three people setting on a long table put in wide with suites and ego! A chair in the middle of the room.
Papers on the table and cups of water. And silence!
The first bullet: "Would you talk about yourself!"
You start to talk and then you hear a voice with, a question I think!
Yes, you start to answer, and then, the second asks you another question.
While you are answering, you will hear the third one of them asking a question similar to one before, but in different way.
You, talk, talk, and they ask and ask.
After sometimes, I got lost, I really didn't know what I said.
One of them advised me to stress on my English language!
One another, warn me about the Japanese language.
I left the room, to the rest room where other people are waiting their turn.
One of the culture affair members already prepared cups of water!
I said: "You really knew that we are going to need a cup of water."

After around 15 days, some of us, passed the first screening.
The 4 of us started to contact the universities and professors in Japan (July, Aug.)

By September we applied the final application paper with the acceptance letter(s).
After about a month or more, they congratulated the four of us again with the final decision.
By March they arranged a lunch with some ancestors to give us a brief of their experience in Japan.
It's very interesting and helpful.
By early April we arrived Japan.

5. Do you have a scholarship?? If yes, was it enough or you faced financial difficulties? If not, how you prepared yourself financially?
Yes, I do. MEXT Scholarship for Research/MSc/PhD is fair! But, sometimes you need to be more clever, and think twice before spending money in Japan. And, other times, there are things that you don't need to pay for, don't do that (I committed this mistake).

For example, bicycle you can get it for free. Voluntarily activity usually are not free. So, do some volunteering work and get money. Also, kitchen stencils and related tools, they are somewhere left for you. invite a japanese girl and she will get you some by herself! E-dictionary is expensive and don't buy it. Your professor will give you one when you start attending your Lab.

6. Could you tell us a little bit about the university are studying?
The university affords a cutting-edge environment for leading, competitive level to cope with the international run of the up-to-date researches. Facilities, knowledge resources are granted. And yet the most important thing is the professors who are powerful and sound. They already have achieved many projects and successes among the leading similar laboratories and organizations world wide. Some of their researches and projects are of cooperations with some well-known universities like MIT.

7. What's your opinion about this kind of opportunity? What are the good and bad things about it?
It's an opportunity! We can make it really an opportunity, or we can screw it up! To really win this opportunity, there are three things that must be kept alive as you go. Your health, your work with the professor (personal relationship, research, seminars, etc), and friends. To come back with experience, knowledge, and beautiful friends and memories

8. Any tip for the students that wanna study abroad?
Read! Read about the interior ministry codes. The immigration codes, etc..
The rights, duties, and a little bit about the law in Japan.



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