留学生インタビュー

Japan has become my second home.


Dr. Chandrasiri still lives in Japan

You have been working for a Japanese firm after completing your study at school. What do you do at work?

I am doing research for making cars smarter and capable of providing drivers with information and support as needed. We work together with universities and other businesses to research and develop information processing systems for automobiles that would benefit our lives.

What motivated you to study in Japan?

I first came to Japan in 1990. I had just graduated from high school, and although I was accepted to a university in Sri Lanka, I was very interested in studying abroad and was searching for an opportunity to study in foreign countries. I found several scholarships, but I was looking for the one that would allow me to do research in the technological field. Back then, Japan was a country with advanced technology, manufacturing such things as radios and automobiles. My interest in studying in Japan gradually grew. I was also interested in Japanese culture and thought the two countries, Japan and Sri Lanka, would have something in common as oriental nations. I saw a very positive future waiting for me if I chose go to Japan. So I decided to apply for the scholarship from the Monbusho (the former Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture).

We understand that there was not much information about Japan available in your country back then. How did you study Japanese?

I went to a Japanese language school in Tokyo for six months to study basic Japanese. After that, I entered a technical college (koto senmon gakko) as a transfer student to the third grade. In college, I studied with other Japanese students in the same classroom, which was helpful for me to get used to the language. I knew only about 500 kanji characters when I entered the technical college, and it was really difficult for me to keep up with the classes. I remember I was having trouble reading what teachers handwrote on the blackboard. Fortunately, my Japanese classmates were available to help me as tutors in the classroom. Because many of the same words were repeatedly used especially in the classes of math, physics, and computer, I gradually became comfortable with the Japanese language as the time passed six months, then a year, and so on.

What was the most impressive episode during your student life in Japan?

After I graduated from the technical college in three years, I was accepted to the Toyohashi University of Technology with the college’s recommendation as a transfer student to a junior year. At the university, I majored in information technology and completed the undergraduate and graduate programs with a master’s degree. To continue my study, I took an exam and was accepted to a doctoral program at the graduate school of the University of Tokyo. During my school years in Japan, I mostly lived in the dorm, but I also lived in an apartment for about a year. What I remember most from my school life is about living in the student dorm. There were exchange students from all over the world, including other Asian countries. We enjoyed drinking together through the night, talking about many different things, or even sometimes having arguments. I had never been part of such a community in my home country. I learned so much from it.


Dr. Chandrasiri has been enjoying friendship and Japanese culture since he first came to Japan

Can you give any advice to those who are planning or are considering studying in Japan?

I think keeping a good balance between studying and playing is important in your life as an exchange student. You need both to make your student life fulfilling and also your study abroad experience successful. And, to build and secure these two major bases, communication skills are definitely needed. Also, I sometimes feel that a network between former exchange students in Japan becomes weak after each student goes back home. These students can serve as a great liaison between Japan and their country as a person who knows very well about Japan after they go home. By keeping a strong tie between former exchange students in Japan, the experiences and connections they have built in Japan will be made the best use both for their own country and for Japan. I am originally from Sri Lanka, but I feel that Japan is my second home after having lived here since I was nineteen. There are so many things about Japan with which I feel I have in common. My experience as an exchange student in Japan will continue to be a significant influence in my future life. Japanese society is made systematic, and people respect rules well. I occasionally experience culture shock when I go back to Sri Lanka and see people not making lines. When the earthquake happened on March 11, I was at work and walked for three hours to get back home. I was impressed again by the calmness of Japanese people after seeing how they reacted to the disaster.


Dr. Chandrasiri actively serves as a liaison connecting Japan and his home country