My Way to Japan

Applying for scholarships without university recommendation (part 2)
Johannes Nicolaus Wibisana Updated in March 2023

PhD student at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

Field of research: Molecular biology, Genome biology

Continuing from the first part, I would like to explain more about the procedures and requirements needed to apply for the scholarships available to me at the time. I also have some tips and tricks that may help you in your own application as well!

The procedures and requirements for applications

For all these scholarships, I was required to write personal statements and research proposal in Japanese (some of which needed to be handwritten), which was quite difficult as it is not my native language. However, I had a very good support from my colleagues and thus I was able to finish writing all these documents. My advice here is to write the proposal as easy to understand as possible. It is important to eliminate technical terms even if it might sound sophisticated, as most people reading the proposal will probably be someone that has no background in the field. I was also required to take aptitude tests for one of the scholarship applications, which was quite difficult as it was in Japanese, but I somehow managed to pass it.

The next step after document screening is interview, where I ended up going to the interviews for both Nitori Foundation and Honjo Foundation scholarships. For Nitori, we were interviewed by the staff of the scholarship foundation. As there were many applicants, I was also able to make some friends when I was waiting for my turn to get interviewed. The interview went smoothly, and I did not notice anything worth mentioning. When I went for the Honjo Foundation interview at the Ito-en headquarters, however, it made me slightly more nervous as I was directly interviewed by the board of directors. Nevertheless, I kept my composure, and I was able to go through the interview without much problem.

The results

The next day after the Honjo Foundation interview, I received a message that I passed the interview and that I should respond if I would like to accept it or not. I was very excited, this is one of the most difficult scholarships in Japan and I got it, without much thinking I accepted the offer.

Later, I also received a notification that I passed the Nitori Foundation scholarship. Moreover, Ito Scholarship Foundation also sent me a notification that I was invited to their interviews. As at this stage I have already decided on the Honjo Foundation scholarship, I turned down the other offers. In conclusion, my advice when applying for scholarships is to be humble, be confident, have a clear vision of what you want to be in the future, and last but not least, never give up. I actually failed some internal applications in my university during the course of scholarship applications, but I never gave up, which led me to find these other foundations and to eventually get a scholarship for my Master’s.