Fascinated by Japan’s highly advanced scientific research, rich culture and state of the art technology, Jordanian students Mohammad Jehad and Aseel Marahleh decided to pursue their post-graduate studies in the east Asian country.
Jehad’s desire to study in Japan became stronger as he was studying architectural engineering at the University of Jordan (UJ), while Marahleh’s interest began during an internship at the University of Jordan’s hospital when she was a student of dentistry.
The former graduated from the university in 2014, while Marahleh graduated in 2015.
“When I started my studies at the university, I learnt more about Japanese architecture and architects... The uniqueness and advancement of Japanese architecture was highlighted by world-renowned periodicals, and at the same time I was fascinated by the Japanese architectural interest in culture and heritage,” Jehad told The Jordan Times in a recent interview in Sendai.
After graduation, he worked for more than a year in an engineering office in Amman, but then decided it was time for him to pursue his dreams.
“I found out that most of those who became famous architects obtained experience from abroad and pursued their masters, which encouraged me to pursue my Master’s degree abroad. I already had an interest in Japan and decided to look for universities there online,” he added.
“I also decided to study in Japan as I always had this dream of working for one for the most famous architects in the world, Kengo Kuma, who is Japanese, so I wanted to get the Master’s degree from Japan,” he said.
As he was browsing Google, he came across the Japanese government’s ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology’s (MEXT) scholarship programme, read the conditions and applied at the Japanese embassy in Amman.
For Marahleh, she said she had always wanted to continue her studies and research in nanotechnology and dental materials.
“When I was still a student at the UJ and an intern at UJ’s hospital, I shared the research topic with my professors who told me about the MEXT scholarships programme and some of them had already studied in Japan... Then I decided to look for more information,” she told The Jordan Times in an interview recently.
“I read the terms and eligibility criteria and I became excited and started preparing all the needed papers and working on the research idea... After preparing everything, I sat with my father first and told him about this scholarship. He asked me about my research and if I had done my homework about Japan — studying there and everything — and after I answered his question he simply said, go ahead,” she said.
“My mother was a little bit worried and concerned, but at the end of the day, both were very supportive of me,” she added.
The two were among the more than 100 students who applied for the MEXT scholarship programme through the Japanese embassy in Amman. Both of them were selected and arrived in Japan in April 2017 to pursue their higher education.
Jehad is pursuing a Master’s in Architectural Design and Marahleh is doing her PhD in Orthodontics at the Tohoku University in Sendai. The two are among the dozens of Jordanians who have benefited from the programme.
According to MEXT, the number of Jordanian students on scholarships under the programme in Japan reached 21 in 2017. The overall number of students from the Middle East reached 355 in the same year.
According to Japanese officials, Jordanians’ interest in the programme is rising and those selected receive scholarships to complete their undergraduate and post-graduates studies.
Around 9,000 kilometres away from their home in Amman, the two students said they felt at home in Sendai.
“People are very friendly here and welcoming. At the beginning it was difficult, especially with the food and language, but a few weeks after arriving I started to feel at home. It is a very safe and rich experience to study in Japan and pursue my dream here,” Marahleh said.
“I am now doing a PhD and I am becoming a biologist, not a dentist. I made friends and I feel this is where I should be, as I am learning a lot and feel very comfortable,” she added.
When he first arrived in Japan, Jehad said that he did not have friends, however, a group of local volunteers called Mori Group supports foreign students during their time in the country.
“I am thankful for being here and having this opportunity. Studying here is great and very serious. The facilities are advanced and I am learning a lot. This is a great country with very welcoming and great people,” he added.
Jordan Time: Nov 25, 2018