University students in a Japanese university. photo credit;

photo credit;

Me as a 1st-year student









Asian countries are recently becoming popular destinations for students from the African continent.  Japan, a nation with a track record of accepting international students from Asia, is of late reinforcing its policies to increase recruitment of African students for both diplomatic and economic purposes, in stiff competition with its Asian neighbours.

Even though, Japan had already started seeking higher education associations with Africa, for instance, by collaborating in the launch of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya in the year 1980. It has since maintained to invite students with scholarships from various African countries. There is a need for more to be done to advance the significance of training course get more acquainted the larger Africa’s, developmental and technical situation.

Language Barrier

As much as the number of courses that are taught in English is increasing in most universities, some information is not usually conveyed in English. Many Asian students are lucky to have studied Japanese, unlike most African students who as a result have no option but to pick universities in spite of not having Japanese language skills. Therefore face difficulties when it comes to selecting universities, courses and supervisors. No wonder that students end up using rankings and social media as their overall means and criteria of university selection.

However, when picking a destination to study abroad, depending exclusively on rankings is a cause for students lacking essential information about the real study environment at Japanese Universities. Hence may lead to mismatches with supervisors since students may end up believing that the universities they have selected are globally acknowledged and thus definitely provide high-quality education. This also applies to those international students who rely on social media as their major means of gathering information. These platforms do not necessarily reflect the actual study environment in Japan.

Day to day communication needs some know knowledge of the Japanese language as most Japanese people cannot speak English, and those that can, shy away from doing so for the fear of making mistakes or judgment. To have a great social life and be able to mingle well with the locals requires you to have basic knowledge of Japanese or otherwise your social circle will be limited to the few that can speak English and foreigners residing in Japan.

The one and the only way out is to learn the language, if possible before leaving your country. The moment you begin having that dream to study in Japan, enrol in Japanese introductory Classes.

Socio-cultural differences

Other than communication, there are other socio-cultural differences that the students find challenging. These include but are not limited to the different type of food and racism or lack of exposure by the Japanese people – particularly for those who attend institutions located in feeling isolated, homesick and lonely – particularly amongst the longer-term students.

Remedy: Develop a circle of friendly locals and international friends, who you can hang out with whenever you feel the need to interact with people. Identify social places parks, Karaoke clubs and social halls that are friendly to foreigners where you can hang out with friends. Call home or be in touch with your family in whichever way that’s convenient for you, whenever you miss your relatives and family. It’s quite expensive but these days with social media, you can reach out cheaply since there is very fast internet in Japan. Have a close open-minded Japanese friend, who speaks good English, and preferably has international exposure that can fight some of your battles for you in the case you get into trouble with maybe the police or are too sick and need a translator in hospital. There are many nice and kind Japanese actually.

social events to relax you in a country far away from home.

home parties








Job hunting

The major problems graduates face in job hunting are the language barrier and Japanese-specific customs evident during the recruitment process. Many African students also lack sufficient information on jobs for international students and reckon that career support within Japanese universities isn’t sufficient. Currently, the African student recruitment strategy in Japan is dependent on the initiative of enhancing mutual development between Japan and Africa. Seemingly, a lack of a deep understanding of each social context and network is noticed.

While some African students settle for studying in Japan on the basis of unclear perceptions of the country, most African students are focused and generally satisfied with their academic lives in Japan. Majority of them are very industrious and are self-motivated to contribute to Japan’s future development.

However, the downside is that universities do not show much interest in African students’ career paths after graduation and mainly offer support to only students who can seek work in the exact way that Japanese students do. With all factors kept constant, this can be very tough considering cultural differences and language barrier factors.

According to the Japanese society, and even for many businesses, what matters the most when employing international students more than the students’ academic and professional skills and knowledge is if or not they assimilate to Japanese customs.  To promote student exchange and movement between Japan and Africa, greater mutual understanding and support should, therefore, be forged through.

Job hunting orientation in progress

Japanese Students exchange JKUAT









Japan has one of the most advanced technological capabilities in the world.  After studying and residing in Japan, most graduates found they couldn’t use their new skills at home due to some existing technological gaps. Most graduates who decide to stay and secure jobs in Japan enjoy this technological advancement.