The Sakura Science Plan (SSP) program provides the student with interesting point of view before coming to Japan. The program is very useful to introduce university environment, research topic, and student life at the host university in Japan. In 2014, I joined SSP at Shizuoka University's Hamamatsu campus. The lab visit was the most memorable activity for me. We visited many laboratories there with various focus of study from heat transfer, magnetic bearing, long range telecommunication, to quantum tunneling in semiconductor. One interesting point is that many students are choosing and doing research fields that are different from their background, especially graduate students. At that time I was in doubt which major should I choose for my master's degree. However, a senior student from Tabe-sensei Lab (the lab that studies quantum tunneling) told me that as long as you have the motivation and spirit to study, then everything will be fine. The lab visit along with all other activities in SSP program encouraged me to study about socio-environmental energy science at Kyoto University which I attended in 2016, one year after the program.
My life in Japan was really memorable. Kyoto City where I lived is very traditional and modern at the same time. For a person coming from a tropical region, the changing of seasons is astonishingly beautiful. You can see sakura bloom alongside Kamogawa river, Great Fireworks at Biwako Lake, the beautiful momiji foliage at Tofuku-ji, and also the very special view of Arashiyama bamboo forest covered in snow. These are great relaxation after working at laboratory in the weekdays. As a muslim finding halal food is not a problem either. I could easily buy halal ingredient at the mosque, local supermarket, or by online shopping. When I was master student my professor and friends are very kind and supportive. They always helping me not only for academic and research work, but also for daily stuff like moving apartment and setting up phone number. With their help I can conduct my research with peace in mind. There are variety of scholarship provided to study in Japan. I received scholarship from Indonesia government to support my stay here. However you can also apply for Japanese government scholarship, private scholarships (like the ones from Otsuka Toshimi Foundation, ITOEN, Softbank, etc.) or apply for special program like Asia Bridge Program (ABP-Shizuoka University). Even when you cannot get a full financial support during your early year, you can work for yourself with part-time job, which is enough to support you everyday life. So I encourage any student who want to study in Japan not to worry about money and just come and study with passion :)
Please come to Japan if your willingness to study is strong enough! The first six months is the most difficult time! It may sound harsh but trust me the reward is worth it. In Japan you will not only learn about your field of study but also the deep culture of the society. I am currently studying at Kyoto University. In the city where I lived the culture cross with the modern world which results in its uniqueness. In this city, you can easily spot a woman in Yukata at shopping center, grandpa and grandma staring at street artist at Kawaramachi area, and many other interesting attraction. The people here are very nice and you can enjoy the beauty of 4 seasons within the heart of Japan’s culture capital. Once you stay long enough Kyoto will be your very own hometown!