Zul Ilham Zulkiflee Lubes
Socio-Environmental Energy Science, Kyoto University
Every parent in this world would say that investing for their children’s future is not an easy task that comes with a high price. But at whatever it takes and how extremely expensive it costs them, they would somehow managed to cater for it with a hope that we, their children would achieve higher prospects and better life than them.
Encouraged with their love, prayers and support, years of hard works, bountiful of lucks and driven by higher-than-average motivation, those have led me in winning this Panasonic Scholarship which offers a golden opportunity for selected Asian students to pursue their graduate study in attending prestigious research courses at Japan universities.
I knew I have made them proud with their beaming smile after the award ceremony and deep inside, I knew they are relieved to know that their son is on the right path. “Kare mo hito nari, ware mo hito nari”, I believed that other recipients may also have other versions of their thoughtful moments like me.
For me, the Panasonic Scholarship offers more than just monetary assistance but yet defining doors for you to leap inside and make use of the opportunity to the maximum in order to increase your potential and lead you to be a better man.
Some may say that it is impossible for those who don’t have a Japanese education background to excel in Japan, but everyday in this world, some things are being done that many has said cannot be done. What you have to do is to start now. Many of us Panasonic Scholarship recipients were either locally-educated or western-educated during our undergraduate years, but that reason never stops us to be where we are right now. Remember, adversities can be turned into opportunities and dares can be doors. Studying Japanese language can be full of fun.
Though life is tough and we all have limitations when some of us born with only average ability, we must also accomplish whatever anyone else can. There are thousands of world class eminent figures like the respectful founder of Matsushita Electric Industries Co. Ltd. (Panasonic), Tan Sri Konosuke Matsushita (1894-1989) who starts with a small capital but with high perseverance, did succeed greatly in life. We must do believe that an average ability with brilliant planning and strong determination can help ordinary people achieve extraordinary things in life.
Whatever you do, do well. There are no small roles, only small actors. Good luck in your application for the Panasonic Scholarship!
Leong Chean Ring
Molecular Chemistry, Hokkaido University
When I look back right now, I don’t remember very clearly the exact image of Japan I had in my mind before coming here. Or how much had I already been educated about its people and culture? What picture formed in my mind whenever I heard somebody mention Japan? Was it “sushi”? “Samurai”? Or was it the image of the beautiful “Geishas” in Kyoto? But of course the later image only came to my mind after watching the movie! I thought of Japan as a country of highly educated people, way much advanced than any other country in terms of, well I guess, almost everything. I thought of the beautiful temples and rocks, with water and trees in its backdrop; of the beautiful village landscape and traditional gardens and stone lanterns. With those images and a suitcase in my hand, I got down in Chitose airport and the first treat I had was the view of the snow capped hills around Chitose on my way to Sapporo. There was very little snow by then on the lower areas and the roads. But the cold got me real hard. Flying directly from somewhere near the equator and getting down at a place located at 43°N latitude which is of course very near to Siberia sometime at the end of march, is a real once in a life time experience or so to say.
My Japanese then was like I was a new born Japanese baby, few months old but haven’t actually begun to speak. Uneasiness gripped me sitting alone, in the bus, among people speaking an entirely different language and bowing to each other maybe a hundred times, or maybe two hundred times if I had actually counted and not dozed off for sometime. It really gave me this image of people here respecting fellow pedestrians or fellow citizens or the guy who is just sitting next to you in a bus. Tremendous respect for each other! So much that after a while I started doubting my own conduct and actually started getting wary if I might upset anybody. Of course I will never know if I had upset anybody that day because I really didn’t have much time to think since I had to drag a huge suitcase passing through everybody, making way for myself and my suitcase. Since I didn’t hear any curses following me, I concluded that the Japanese people could actually make some exceptions for a tiny young woman, dragging a suitcase which almost weighed the same like her and forcing people around to make way.
Three springs and summers have passed and I have been here for almost three years now. I don’t remember when I had actually started speaking in my crude Japanese. Being here made me realize the importance of time and managing it so that it doesn’t go waste. Sometimes we think it is not necessary to plan things way in advance like for example I was at a lady’s place for lunch and she was making an appointment for a cooking lesson due in two months from then. Planning for the next week or the one after, I have heard and even I do it but two months was something I had never imagined. But of course getting things planned way before would avoid a lot of other hassles later. I read in a magazine that Japanese plan out everything before they travel overseas like even places to eat soon as they arrive at the destination country starting from the details like the name and the address of the restaurant. I think this could be the one of the secrets of Japan’s prosperity and quick recovery after the World War II making them an economic powerhouse. Even train departure times are always like 10:41, 11:44. I start thinking why can’t it be like 10:40, 11:45 which is much easier to remember and also easier to read on your watches. Well again, time is important. In my country, the departure times are always with 0 or 5. But then clocks and watches there vary from each other and hardly show the same timings. To my experience, only in Japan I have seen the all the clocks and watches anywhere in the country show the exact same time.
You never seem to realize the changes in yourself that have occurred in the past one and half a year you have been in Japan until you meet people from home. They find things in you changed, sometimes good and sometimes could be bad. I mean it all depends on the fact whether your friend likes the changes in you. It will be strange to them sometimes. But for me living here even for the last three years taught me a lot of lessons, I guess. Academically of course, since that’s what I am here for actually. Socializing with Japanese and people from different countries actually opens up our mind to a lot of things and you begin thinking wider. During the of course of my life in Japan, I plan to grasp all lessons that I can like a stream trickling down a hill picking up minerals from rocks, so that it will shape up all the different aspects of my life.
International Public Policy, Osaka University
When I was informed that I was one of the recipients of the Panasonic Scholarship Award in 2001, I was simply ecstatic. I always dreamt of returning. I first visited Japan when I was 16, as an exchange student in Hyogo Prefecture. I fell in love with the country and culture.
But apart from the joy and excitement, I have to admit that to get to Japan was not easy. There was a series of preparations I had to go through such as learning Japanese, applying to universities, selecting academic advisors, as well as preparing for my study plans in Japan.
I studied in Osaka University, one of the renowned universities in Japan with great teaching facilities. During my course of study, I had the opportunity to meet many well-known academicians, as well as people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. My lessons were conducted in Japanese. It was initially quite difficult, but I took it as a challenge to master it. Although I may not be able to speak as fluent as before, I am still able to understand and read well.
The Panasonic Scholarship officers were like my second family, always supporting and taking care of us. Like parents, they can be quite strict but always concern of our studies and well-being. I always looked forward to the annual summer gathering organized by the PSO. The officers usually took the pain to organize a “once in a lifetime experience” event in each gathering every summer. There were educational visits and cultural performances. I am always in awe on how they could get everything so meticulously planned and run smoothly. I especially liked a time where we had an open question and answer session with a high-ranking officer in Panasonic. It showed that Panasonic took into consideration the feelings and opinions of the scholars.
My 3-year stay was truly a learning experience, which I would not trade for anything else. There were obstacles and hardships, tears and heartaches, which did not hinder my progress but taught me perseverance and self-reliance. As they say, what can’t break you makes you stronger. But I must say that I have a longer list of memorable good experiences that I constantly look back with a smile.
Ahmad Farid Muhammad
Network Architecture, University of Electro-Communications
I graduated from Electro-Communication University in year 2004. During my 3 years stay in Japan, I gained a lot of experiences not only in the field of study but also the Japanese culture and the build up friends networking. I am majoring in Network Architecture, which my research is on the 4th generation mobile network system.
During my first year stay we need to sit for entrance examination. With the support from Panasonic, lab mates and advisor I manage to passed the exam and start my life as a Master Student. Japanese education system is quite tough where you need to attend lecture and also perform your research furthermore most of the communication with your lecturers, research advisor and lab mates is in Japanese. But I was lucky enough for not having such difficulty to communicate and understanding Japanese language since I done my first degree in Kobe, Japan. Nevertheless to form a good relationship with lecturers, research advisors and lab mates did help me to survive during the years.
Although busy with everyday routine of lectures and research I still spent my time exploring Japanese cultures. I look for every new season to come. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter has its own celebration, festival and foods which is unique and quite fascinating. During Spring I never miss to watch Sakura, Summer is always enjoyable having BBQ in the park and watched the superb firecracker’s show (Hanabi). When autumn comes, visiting Hanoke was a great experience to enjoy the beautiful scenery (Koyo). There comes winter with the cold air breeze and sometimes when there is snow I never missed to build Yukidaruma.
I do feel very lucky to be granted the scholarship. It has created another chapter in my life where there has been a struggling time to meet the research deadline, build up friends networking and enjoy the company of the whole bunch of Panasonic scholars and staff.