Home to Mount Fuji and with over 6,800 islands, Japan is not only a popular holiday haven, it is increasingly becoming an educational hub for Bangladeshi students who want to pursue tertiary-level study abroad. This article delves into the lives, experiences, and successes of six Bangladeshi student alumni who completed undergraduate degrees at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University(APU) in Japan.
Early morning classes that include learning Japanese language, then going to your part-time job either at the university or nearby natural hot springs, is the order of the day for most international students such as Jawad Mubashwir, Shihabun Sakib, Rubaiyat Islam, Tahmidur Islam, Rubaiyat Rafi and Muhammad Fatemee.
Jawad Mubashwir graduated in March 2017 from APU's College of International Management, majoring in Strategic Management and Organisation. He currently works as a business development executive for Marubishi, a Japanese food manufacturing/trading company. Jawad was handpicked by the CEO a year before graduation to expand Marubishi overseas. Around 400 Japanese and multinational companies visit APU annually to interview/recruit students in their fourthyear. Jawad says that he applied for eight jobs before this one and chose Marubishi because he wanted to start a Japan-Bangladesh bilateral business almost immediately, which his CEO recognised and eventually let him do. As for his decision to study at APU with an 80 per cent scholarship and then later going on an exchange programme to Stanford University in the US, funded by Japan Ministry of Education. APU gave him a 'global undergrad' in an international university for the same amount of money he would have to pay at a private university in Bangladesh. Students at APU can save money by what they receive from scholarships in the way of living expenses and part-time jobs. Even if students' parents do not support them financially, Jawad says, ‘you can still have a decent life’ in Japan. Finally, the ease of job hunting at APU was 'super easy' compared to anywhere else as he did not have to apply, go for interviews, attend job seminars, as companies would come to APU for on-campus recruitment. Jawad says that even if you did have to go to the head office in Tokyo for the final interview, the company would pay for your flight.
Shihabun Sakib, another APU alumni who graduated last year, currently works for Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (JAPEX) as a business analyst, working to expand his company in Thailand and Indonesia. He chose JAPEX because his undergraduate thesis was based on finance and energy, and thought this company would be a perfect match. Sakib has aspirations to work for a foreign company after three to five years and says that it is easier to move from a Japanese company to a foreign one.
On his first day at APU, Sakib remembers the residential assistants (RAs) who help newcomers settle into university life. He was also the winner of the prestigious Ando Momofuku Award, awarded by Nissin Foods. Sakib now feels that after his experience at APU and living in Japan, he not only thinks about his own country but also sees the world with the eyes of a 'global citizen'.
A female member of the Bangladeshi alumni at APU, Rubaiyat Islam, is an economics major who graduated earlier this year. She now works as a system engineer for its global division of Fujisoft Inc., a Japanese IT company. Rubaiyat is from Viqarunnisa Noon School and College who won a 100 per cent scholarship to APU. She entered her current job because she has a dual interest in programming and economics and took courses accordingly at APU.
Tahmidul Islam also received an 80 per cent scholarship from APU and graduated in 2016. He started working for one of Japan's leading integrated human resources service companies a year earlier and is now in a managerial position. In his third year at APU, Tahmid organised the business case competition on a national level which later became international. Rubaiyat Rafi chose to work for Deimler Trucks Asia, a multinational company, as HR Business Partner. Working in this company, Rafi says that he gets global exposure with a high salary. For six months Rafi went on an exchange programme to the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and later became an advisor for exchange students. Muhammad Fatemee is the current chairman of APU Alumni Bangladesh Chapter. He graduated in 2013 in International Management and Marketing and is currently pursuing PhD at the University of Tokyo. Fatemee worked for KDDI Corporation, the second largest telecommunications company in Japan.
Sakib believes that the Japanese are 'extremely precise' i.e., if one Japanese yen goes missing, they will spend the whole workday figuring out why it is missing. ‘Even if you make a mistake, they are extremely patient,’ Sakib mentions. Rafi says that people are extremely dedicated to their work, transparent, and straightforward. Tokyo, where Tahmid now lives is very convenient and has an excellent train service. In addition, it is extremely clean, where the Japanese believe in Katasuke or leaving a place cleaner than you found it. ‘Everything has a meaning, for example, the way wrapping paper is folded,’ says Rubaiyat Islam.
Sakib believes that currently Japan is the only safe country in the world, particularly for girls. Punctuality is also a common practice in Japan, where people arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of time, even if it is for meeting friends.
All the above mentioned student alumni (except Muhammad Fatemee) started their study abroad journeys through MACES, one of Bangladesh's leading education consulting firms established in 2007. It represents over 160 universities in the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, and Australia. In the words of Rouham Manzoor, managing partner of the firm, ‘MACES is the one stop for your foreign education ambitions’ and, this is why over 3000 students consider it to be the best education consultancy in Bangladesh.
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