Sakura Mentor

Challenges and Coping Strategies as a Postgraduate Student in Japan – Part 2
Lai Hung Wei Updated in August 2021

Konnichiwa and salam sejahtera! In our previous encounter, I brought up two main challenges I faced in Japan; 1) Japanese language and its culture, and, 2) difference in research field. These problems can be overcome by 1) learning the language and overcome the cultural differences by having more exposure with Japanese colleagues, and, 2) intensive reading, brainstorming problems and comprehensive discussion with others, respectively. Let us continue with the second half of challenges faced in Japan as an international postgraduate student and how to cope with them effectively.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Studying abroad means entering a new environment with no network. Therefore, we need to build our own network, even better if it includes individuals within our field. As a researcher, the standard way would be joining conferences and present your research findings. Make some business cards and give it out to other professionals. You may find potential collaborators or new ideas which may benefits you in the long run. Another way is joining Graduates café in your university, whereby graduate students and professors from various fields will gather regularly in the lobby and socialize freely. Many researchers and students had established new research collaboration prior to this programme. Personally, I think this is highly efficient as we get to know people around us and current trends in various fields. You may try to start one yourself too if your university do not have one!

The fourth problem is depression and loneliness. I had a relatively bad depression due to homesickness at one time. Although friends might help to a certain degree, there is no effective way to cure this except fortifying your own mental strength. The only advice is we have to eliminate unreal expectations and think logically as scientists. Living abroad has pushed me to grow to a better and stronger person. I feel much more confident and independent now – living and research-wise.

That’s all for the problems faced and coping strategies I had as a postgraduate student in Japan! In my next column, I will discuss about why inspired me to further my study in Japan and the top 4 advantages of choosing Japan as your destination for further studies! Stay tuned and be healthy!