留学生インタビュー

My dream is to work as a social worker in Japan.


With other exchange students

Why did you choose Japan to study social welfare?

I was living with my grandparents in South Korea. I was interested in social services for the aged. I studied public welfare also in South Korea before coming to Japan. As I continued my study in social services in South Korea, I came to realize that a lot of things I learned referred to Japanese welfare programs and case studies. While European countries like Sweden and Germany are known for their advanced welfare services for senior citizens, their social system and culture are quite different from those of South Korea. In that respect, we are close to Japan in distance as well as in culture. That’s why I began thinking about studying social welfare in Japan. What really pushed me to come to Japan was an advice from my professor, who said that the best choice for me would be to study in Japan.

For many exchange students, language becomes a barrier they have to overcome first. How did you study Japanese?

I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to study Japanese because Korean grammar is similar to that of Japanese. After coming to Japan, I first took Japanese courses at a Japanese language school for a year and half, and studied at a specialized school for a year before being accepted to the Sophia University, the Faculty of Human Science, the Department of Social Services this spring. To improve my vocabulary, I still carry a dictionary to university classes so that I can look up a word I don’t know immediately after I come across it. The entrance ceremony at the university was scheduled in April, but then in March, the Great East Japan Earthquake happened. My parents called and told me to come home after learning about the accident at the nuclear power plant, so I went back to South Korea on March 23. But I didn’t want to give up my plan to study in Japan, so I returned to Japan after a week.

What is the biggest challenge you find while living in Japan?

Like many other students from South Korea, the financial issue is challenging. I work part-time at an udon restaurant three times a week. I try to make necessary payments first, such as the phone bill, when I get paid. I also receive a scholarship to reduce tuition. It is unfortunate that there are not as many scholarship programs available for undergraduate students as those for graduate students. The amount of the scholarships is limited too. For many exchange students, I think the freshman year is the toughest as they are still trying to get used to their lives in Japan, and finding a good part-time job can be difficult at those times as well. When I have time to spare, I watch English dramas at the dorm or join activities of a volunteer group to play with children with disability. Last month (October) our dorm had a fall festival. The festival’s program was planned and organized independently by the exchange students.

Tell us about what you are studying at the university and also your study goal.

While my major is welfare for the aged, I have also learned since I came to Japan that the history, system, policy and such of social welfare are far more different than I thought between South Korea and Japan. It has been a lot of hard work to start over from the very beginning for studying about Japanese welfare system. My goal for the near future is to pass a national exam for a social worker license in Japan before graduating from the school. This is a difficult exam, and the passing rate is low even for Japanese. People keep telling me it is hard for me to pass it, but I have been working hard towards it by taking classes helpful for the exam. My next goal after passing the exam is to work as a social worker for a nonprofit organization in Japan. I would also like to plan and realize various welfare programs in other countries than Japan.

Please give your advice to those who are considering studying in Japan.

“If you keep your dream and work hard, your dream will always come true”—this is my favorite phrase, and I decided to study in Japan because I truly believe in it. You need to have a clear goal if you want to be successful in your school life as an exchange student in Japan. And I am just one of many other foreign students and workers living here who have come to Japan with their own dream to achieve. For those who are thinking about studying in Japan, please don’t give up your dream. It may look impossible for some people, but I believe your dream will come true as long as you keep working toward your goal to study in Japan. Together, let’s make our dream come true.


At a cafeteria