This sounds pretty good then. With your own study supplementing the course and the more relaxed timeframe, it all seems achievable. Plus having a specific goal will let you prioritize areas of learning for your own needs. I learnt more in my one year of studying Japanese in Japan than my whole degree taught me, so having that chance is great.
Do you know where you will be doing the program?
Preferably in Tokyo but MEXT has full control of which University they’ll make you take the entrance exam for. I think you can write down 3 of your choice and they’ll choose one out of them based on whether the University wants you or not.
I recommend Nagoya, good universities, easy travel, a little more chill even though its like the 3rd/4th biggest city.
But then I’m biased, studied there and I now work in Chūbu. I’m one of the people who really isn’t a fan of Tokyo, but I see the appeal it has to some.
I personally don’t like very big cities a lot either but because of certain dietary restrictions, Tokyo is a much safer choice than anywhere else. Though I’ve heard that it’s better to put in at least one non-Tokyo university in your form because there’s a higher chance of acceptance that way. So if provided the chance, I’ll write down Nagoya University for my non-Tokyo option
Unless something changed in recent years, MEXT undergrad applicants don’t need to write what university they would like to go. That will be chosen during the prep course in Japan.
Declaring what university you would like to go from the beginning should be only for grad students. Undergrads just write their intended majors.
I’m a bit confused on this part as well because some sources state that after the initial screening, you have to submit a second application with the desired Universities and others say that you have no say at all and MEXT will choose your University for you
I’m a MEXT scholar from the 2013 batch. It has been ten years, so I can’t really say my info is up to date because things may have changed in the mean time.
But from what I understand, to get select as a MEXT, you usually have two phases:
Your country’s Japanese embassy selection process. If you are from a
developed country with comparately low interest in the scholarship, they may have no extra criteria, but if you are from a developing country where there is a lot of competition for the scholarship, the local Japanese embassy may add additional screening steps, such as extra forms, minimum GPA requirement, essay writing, etc.
Actual unified selection process. It’s done according to the MEXT guidelines you can find available online every year. It usually comprises exams, an interview, recommendation letter, submitting your school records and a unified form, used in the whole world. From what I understand, this form does not require you to name actual universities if you are an undergrad. (at least it didn’t ten years ago, but I didn’t check the latest one)
I can imagine though they could ask you in the interview about where in Japan you would like to live, what universities you are interested, etc.
After you are a MEXT scholar in Japan attending the preparatory course for more than a semester, you will be then asked to write down the schools you would like to go to, which MEXT shall compare with your grades, other scholars applying for the same area in the same schools grades and decide ONE school to actually recommend you to.
That school may apply extra selection steps to allow you in if they so decide. Keep in mind however that 1. Universities receive extra money for having MEXT scholars and 2. Since it’s the ministry of education itself recommending the students, it doesn’t really look good for universities to refuse way too many MEXT scholars. Although refusals do happen, it’s usually one or two students out of a one hundred scholars that come a year.
All in all, once you are a MEXT scholar, your selection process runs completely outside the regular routes, so anything written in the universities websites regarding selection process is not of much relevance.
About becoming a MEXT scholar of Medicine, just be aware the standards are ridiculously high for obvious reasons. As in most countries, medicine is by far the hardest major to get in, so it’s only natural they will apply similar standards for international students.
Although I don’t think that’s an official requirement, in my experience I’ve never seen a medicine MEXT scholar who wasn’t already fluent in Japanese before coming to Japan.
But several mext scholars apply multiple times until getting the scholarship, so don’t let that be the reason for you to give up if you think you have what it takes.
Good studies and best wishes
If you don’t mind, can I ask you a few questions regarding your experience?
Regarding the preparatory school, what level of japanese did they teach?
Which other subjects did you cover for the enterence test and at what level where they being thought? Did you prepare for the test in japanese or was it in english?
Also did you pay out of pocket for your stay during the preparatory period or where you provided a stipend by MEXT for that time as well.
Also thank you for the additional information, now I atleast have a rough idea of the entire process.
They have Japanese classes for all levels ranging from zero to “actually my family used to live in Japan so several years of my formal education were attended at a Japanese school”. We all get placement tests once we arrive at the prep school.
The “preparatory schools” for undergrad students are nothing but 東京外国語大学 and 大阪大学 departments of japanese language themselves. Be assured that you will have what is considered extremely high-level Japanese language education, with teachers who are actual faculty members who conduct research on teaching Japanese to foreigners.
They do manage to get those engineering majors from zero Japanese to able-to-enter-college in one year, after all.
That’s not the case for grad, technical and profissionalizing scholars, tho.
I didn’t actually studied for the MEXT exams. I passed on my third try and I was attending college back at home during those years, so I was just studying for college and Japanese outside as I had been for the past four or five years.
I came as a human major (although I’ve taken the selection process for science major in previous years) so I only had English, Math and Japanese exams on that year.
I did English (duh) and Math in English. Japanese in Japanese (duh²)
The years I applied for sciences I took chemistry and physics in English, too.
The interview had parts in my native language, parts in English and parts in Japanese.
You get the stipend for the whole five years (1 + 4). Just be aware the first stipend only arrives by the end of the first month, so you are expected to be able to pay for food and etc with your money until there. Dorms are provided from the very first day for undergrad students.
I think you have gotten good advice on schools in Japan and how much Japanese you need to learn. However I think you need to think about what your long term goals are. Certain fields of medicine don’t pay as well in Japan as some other countries and getting a degree in Japan might not be valid in other countries. I’m not sure where you’re from and why you are choosing medicine. I know from certain countries coming to Japan would be a step up in terms of education.
I’m not trying to discourage you, but let you think more deeply about your plans. If Japan is long term then you need to understand working conditions in Japan and daily life in Japan beyond what you see in anime or drama. If you’re looking to learn in Japan and take it back to your home country then you need to see if that’s feasible. If you’re only looking to experience living in Japan for a brief period of time then you can also look into just coming for language school, working holiday visa or finding an exchange program through a school in your home country (you might have looked into this already). There are a lot of options for you to consider. In the meantime study as much Japanese as possible. Even if you find a school that will teach you Japanese or will teach in English it’s still beat to have a head start.