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Connecting Japan and Vietnam through Food

University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences Faculty of Commerce
Vo Thi My Huong
Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (4 years in Japan)

What first made you interested in Japan?

After I graduated from junior college in Vietnam, I thought it would benefit me in the future to study one more foreign language (in addition to English) – and that was one of the big reasons. When I was thinking about what language I wanted to study, I decided on having another go at Japanese, which I’d tried to study before.

There was a time when learning Japanese was really popular in Vietnam, and I went to a Japanese language school then, but I unfortunately didn’t continue (I only went for two months). Around that time, I was really influenced by what I’d heard from a friend who’d studied abroad in Japan, so I began another year of studying Japanese language.

How did you study Japanese?

I studied it for the two months I went to the Japanese language school in Vietnam, then self-studied for four months and was able to get N3 on the JLPT before coming to Japan. After arriving in Japan, I attended a Japanese language school in Kobe (at the Kobe YMCA) for two years. Many Japanese language schools offer only morning or evening classes, but the YMCA offers classes every day from morning to evening, so I decided to sign up there because I figured I could really study well. At school they taught not only grammar and conversation, but we had to give speeches, and I was able to learn a lot. I’m glad I chose the YMCA.

What do you like about Kobe?

There are a lot of foreign people living in Kobe, so I think it’s a great place for international students. I decided to study abroad here because my parents have friends who live in Kobe, but I really like it here, so I hope I’ll be able to find work here in the future. I also like that Kobe is so easy to access. I often go to Kyoto on my free days, and it’s a lot of fun renting kimono and walking around the city, visiting temples and so on.

What do you study?

After my two years of studying Japanese at the Kobe YMCA, I was admitted to the University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences as a third year student in the Faculty of Commerce, where I’m studying marketing and logistics. I chose this department because my parents farm in Vietnam, so I’d like to work in international trade in the future, connecting Japan and Vietname through food products. I’m the only international student in my class, and it isn’t easy that all of my classes are in Japanese, but I’ve worked hard because someday I’d like to have my own company. I’m currently in the middle of job hunting, and I’m hoping to work at a food-related BtoB (business to business-centered) trading company.

Are there differences in student life between Japan and Vietnam?

The biggest diference is when job hunting begins. In Vietnam we start looking for jobs after graduating, but in Japan job hunting starts a year in advance. Also, with regards to job hunting, in Vietnam important is placed on a worker’s skill and academic ability, but in Japan I feel that there’s a lot of emphasis placed on your character and personality.

With regards to school life, I think both Japanese and international students are busy with part-time work. I think I had more time to spend with my friends in Vietnam. I had to work really hard to pay my school fees until I was able to get a scholarship from KICC. Now, thanks to the KICC scholarship, I’m able to focus more on both my studies and my job hunt.

Please share a message for students considering studying abroad in Kobe (Japan).

I suggest doing your preparation carefully. I’ve seen many international students who come to Japan, work part-time to pay their school fees, and aren’t able to focus on their studies, but since you’re coming all the way to study in Japan, I recomend using a scholarship so you can work hard at your studies.

Also, I recommend getting your Japanese skills in the best shape you can before coming here. It’ll come in handy when making friends, working, or looking for a place to live. You can do it!