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Evelyne Chua’s Journey of Discovery: Unveiling the Undergraduate Adventure in Japan

Updated: May 6

Written by: Tan Yie Jun 23S63

Evelyne Chua (Front, Centre) with her friends in Japan

After graduating from JC, what would your next step be? For Evelyne Chua, our former Students' Council Vice-President, she decided to pursue undergraduate studies in political science in Japan.

Though Evelyne did not expect to continue her academic journey specifically in Japan, it was ultimately due to the scholarship interview panelists’ offer for her to study in Japan on a scholarship that led to her decision. 

Going to an entirely different country alone and mastering a new language can be challenging. Evelyne shared that sometimes, she wakes up wondering if pursuing a course in Japanese is foolhardy. Currently attending a language school in Japan before starting university, she harbours some concerns about navigating her courses in Japanese, integrating into society, and mastering the language.

Regardless of these worries, she tried not to think of them too much and focused on the positives. During her time in Japan, she found the Japanese language very interesting to learn. As many kanji characters are similar to Chinese ones, Evelyne shared that knowing the Chinese meaning of the word can help, and she felt that her Chinese was improving in the process of learning Japanese. Furthermore, some Japanese words sound similar but mean very different things, so it is essential to understand the context in which they are used. For example, earthquake and confidence sound the same in the Japanese language, as both are pronounced as “jishin”.

Evelyne also shared that since she is currently in a language school for foreigners, she gets to interact with many of her peers who are from diverse cultural backgrounds, such as Mongolians and Madagascans, a stark difference from her experience in Hwa Chong. She shared that the national service in Mongolia disallows servicemen from leaving the camp or using their devices, unlike Singapore’s National Service. Her Mexican friends also shared their experiences in Mexico with her. These peers' experiences make her appreciate Singapore even more. Hence, the people she learns with also play a huge factor in making the experience of learning Japanese interesting.

Moving on to her passion, Evelyne shared that she wanted to work in the foreign services because she found the concept of diplomacy to be interesting. It fascinated her that there was a job about fostering closer ties and understanding relationships between others. She enjoyed reading about Singapore's origin story as a nation, like Professor Tommy Koh’s series of essays, “Footprints on Foreign Shores”. It was heartening to her that she could contribute to her country through this job, thus becoming inspired to join this sector from a young age.

For those who intend on studying overseas, Evelyne advised that you seek new opportunities to expose yourself to people whom you would not have normally interacted with in Singapore. Evelyne shared that she was guilty of mainly interacting with Singaporeans as it is much more comfortable to stick with people she is familiar with. After coming to Japan, she knew almost no one and was pushed to step out of her comfort zone. She shared that she ended up going to karaoke sessions with 40-year-olds and playing mahjong with 20, 30-year-olds, which was something she was intimidated by at first but enjoyed in the end. “It really helps you to open up your sights and understand things from very different perspectives because we live in our own heads and as an 18, 19-year-old,” she admitted. Indeed, the experience was a very valuable one.

Evelyne (second from right) with her friends

She shares that besides studying, we should go out and explore the country because each country offers different experiences. For example, as much as Evelyne loves Singapore, she has to admit that the hiking experience here is not comparable to Japan’s. She also wishes for her juniors to enjoy their life in JC and cherish the people around them, while they are still near, before going overseas because it would be harder to contact your loved ones when you miss them.

Additionally, to those who wish to pursue a career in the foreign service, she advises one to be positive and make an informed decision. The job itself requires sacrifices in your family life, as you may have to travel a lot for your postings, away from home. Regardless, it is important to stay hopeful, as there will be someone who can understand your situation and make small compromises. In addition, Evelyne recommends people to pursue internships under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), at the Pre-University level or during university, to know what the job entails.

Here are two links you can explore if you are interested:

Looking forward, Evelyne hopes to successfully graduate from university and always see the value and the positives of what she does, as she believes that her mindset will define her future path. She also strives to remember her roots, keeping in mind the reason why she started in this field in the first place – to improve the future prospects of Singapore.

Taking in the lovely blossoms in Japan

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