My Mext Scholarship Adventure Part 1

Writings and Ramblings

My Mext Scholarship Adventure Part 1

01 Feb 2020 - Jason Schlesinger

I am a recipient of the MEXT Scholarship, usually referred to as “the MEXT”. The MEXT is the Japanese government’s ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Each year they offer scholarships to students all over the world to come study and research in Japan. For more info, check out Wikipedia

One issue I noticed with the MEXT, is there is precious little information out there, and a lot of rumors and hearsay. So I thought I’d at least help future applicants by adding to that hearsay, and maybe entertain a few by sharing my story.

In late 2018, my wife and I were thinking about what we should do after she finished her PhD. We were living in Portland, OR on the west coast of the USA, but both of us wanted to move abroad. In addition, I decided I wanted a career change from business intelligence to bioinformatics. We considered a few options, but schools in the Netherlands and Japan really stood out to me.

With a full notebook of notes in hand, I turned my attention to Japan. My wife had an academic conference she was able to attend there, so I could tag along for the price of a plane ticket. I reached out to a few professors, and got very little in the way of response.

I’ve since learned that Japanese professors are very busy, and it’s not uncommon for a new email to get lost in the stack. If I haven’t heard back in a week or two, I’ll usually message them again and they are typically responsive.

Visiting Japan made it clear this is what I wanted. I will discuss my reasons for why Japan In another article, but my experience made it clear to me that I didn’t want to visit Japan, the next time I set foot in the country, I wanted to be a researcher. I had planned to apply for the MEXT, but I’d only thought about it idly, and only started my application once the guidelines came out.

This was a mistake.

The guidelines only come out about a month before the deadline, and a month is not enough time to prepare. I work well under pressure, but I’ve never been under such pressure to hit a deadline as this. I pulled all nighters, emailed people on a daily basis, researched my research topic at work, and at the end I still had to drive to the consulate to make sure my application went in on time. I do not recommend this.

Over the next few posts, I will go into more detail about my experience with visiting Japan, submitting the MEXT application, participating in the interview, obtaining a letter of acceptance and finally getting the scholarship and moving to Japan.

Tags: MEXT | Japan | education