Why This Nepalese Student Might Give Up His Study Abroad Dream

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Japan’s travel ban has been an emotional rollercoaster for many international students as they wait to resume their studies on campus. Adding salt to the wound is the fact that Japanese citizens and residents are allowed to travel in and out of the country while stranded students and workers have not been given the green light to do so.

Students expressed concerns and frustrations on Twitter using the hashtags #educationisnottourism and #japantravelban. Japan travel ban extended due to Omicron variant, reports suggest very likely the borders will remain closed until next year.

Sujan Uprety, a 21-year-old Nepalese student at Japan Engineering College, tells us how he has been managing distance education since October 2020, despite having a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) – a document that allows him to study in Japan:

What prompted you to study in Japan?

I love Japanese culture and have always dreamed of living there. Many Nepalese students want to go there because the possibility of getting a better education with a part-time job is higher.

I am a graduate student from Nepal and decided to pursue my education abroad. I got my COE in August last year for October intake, sent in my tuition and hostel fees in December, and got an appointment at the embassy to get my student visa.

But the ban on travel to Japan started in December 2020, so embassies stopped issuing visas. Since then, I have been taking online classes.

What other obstacles do you face with the travel ban in Japan?

I definitely had some mental health issues during Japan’s travel ban – the way they treat self-funded students is very disappointing. They give special allowances to DJs, musicians, athletes and VIP guests, but none for us.

I watch the news and follow the Japanese media to keep calm in the hope that the government will open the borders for stranded students soon.

In your opinion, what more should be done to help students stranded outside Japan?

The government should lift the ban on travel to Japan and allow self-funded international students with COEs to enter the country. We are ready to follow the quarantine rules and most of us are vaccinated.

Politics dominate Japan’s travel ban. There is scientific evidence that the Omicron variant is not a huge threat and even then, Japan is the only G7 country to still ban international students.

What does your uni do to support you?

They give online classes once a week in the hope that we keep in touch with them.

“I got my COE in August last year for October intake, sent in my tuition and accommodation fees in December, and got an appointment at the embassy to get my student visa,” he said. Source: Sujan Uprety

Do you have a backup plan if the travel ban in Japan continues?

I’m tired of waiting so long. I plan to give up if they continue the Japan travel ban beyond the last day of December. I will enroll in a school in my country and give up my dream because I chose to study in Japan, not study at home via online courses.

What would you advise to those who want to study in Japan?

I don’t really know what to say. I think everyone waiting for Japan’s travel ban to be lifted should raise their voices and share what they are going through. I would advise prospective students not to apply at this time during these uncertain times.

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