Student Stories

Kiera Warren

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University
Kao Corporation May – Dec 2017

Eight months in Japan have come and gone so quickly in a whirlwind of self-discovery, extraordinary experiences, and new friends. I can say with surety that the experiences I had in Japan have simultaneously been the most challenging and most rewarding things I have ever done. Over the course of my placement I was afforded so much kindness and patience from Japanese people, and was given so many unique opportunities to learn about a culture so different from that of my home country both inside and outside of the workplace. It’s hard to believe that I’ll be back on a plane to Vancouver and soon thereafter sitting in lecture hall camouflaged amongst numerous English-speaking Canadian strangers within a few days’ time. Though I anticipate that I will easily return to the lifestyle I had in my home country in these upcoming days of readjustment, I know that I will have returned a different and better person than when I left given the amazing experience I had in Japan.

Marc Grant-Vanasse

Mechanical Engineering, Ecole de Technologie Superieure
JFE Steel Corporation Sept-Dec 2019

The fact that I was able to complete a co-op in a foreign country will help me in my career path by adding value to my work experience. This will serve to demonstrate my adaptability to unknown situations and showcase my soft skills as I was able to communicate effectively in spite of a language barrier. Not to mention that few mechanical engineers get a chance to program a neural network in Python for several months. I feel that this was a unique opportunity of which I took full advantage. In addition, seeing the size and scope of the production facilities of JFE Steel broadened my concept of what a large manufacturer looked like, and will help me visualize the larger picture of industrial complexes.

Jérémie Bigras-Dunberry

Computer Science, Université de Sherbrooke
NTT Jun – Dec 2018

I do believe that someone with a totally different past and culture will inevitably have to face some challenges when living in a different country. Living in a different country means that cultural and social will be different in some ways. Furthermore some elements and details that someone can relied in their home country might change when going to an abroad country, I think that adapting to those situation with an open mind, even though it is a challenge, is an important thing to do when abroad. Also I do think that it is important not to flee those challenges (for example staying home to avoid challenging Cultural interaction).
Loneliness might also be a problem for some. If this is the case a lot of international meetup and social exchange are present in Japan, so going to them might be a good idea. Meeting other intern from CJCP is also in my recommendation
Also, trying to be curious is a good idea. Try to be interested in something from this culture and society. Experiencing it directly will be not only constructive but also fun.

Sarah Ben Rejeb

Electrical Engineering, Concordia University
Rakuten inc. June –Dec 2018

Since I was sixteen years old, one of my most important goals in life was to discover Japan. I had this strange passion about this country that I could hardly explain when I was asked the question: “Why Japan?” Over time, I did my best to read, listen and watch as much as I could about this foreign culture from my hometown, Montreal. I also started taking Japanese classes to complement my passion. As years went by and I started my degree in electrical engineering at Concordia University, I did my best to search for opportunities of student exchange with Japanese universities or internship programs. And that was when I found out about the Canada Japan Co-op Program. Luckily, my university had been part of this program for many years, and the program advisor had strongly encouraged me to apply to this experience.
After a long process of interviews and visa applications, I was finally officially hired by Rakuten Inc. located in Tokyo, Japan. I was extremely thrilled by the idea of spending seven months halfway across the world from where I lived for so long, to the country of my dreams.

If there is any advice that I would give to future students who are interested in a similar experience, it would be to always stay open-minded. Japan has a very different culture from what we are used to in Canada. Japanese people highly appreciate when students like us try to explore their culture and they are very welcoming to share their lifestyle with us.

I also discovered that Japan is a land of adventures and opportunities. This country has a balanced mix of urban sights as well as natural landscapes. So if a student is more interested in things like technology, concerts or state of the art activities, Japan is the place for that. On the other hand, if a student is more into nature and physical activities, then Japan has a great variety of landscapes, that vary a lot with the seasons. Spring’s cherry blossoms, autumn’s changing leaf colors and snow festivals in winter, Japan has it all.

Lastly, although the Japanese have an amazing “Omotenashi” spirit, it is expected from us foreigners to show the same spirit back. So I hope that students understand that the way they act in Japan will definitely project a good or bad image of foreigners in general.

Maxime Cardinal

Software Engineering, McGill University
NTT Musashino Jan – Mar 2020

Ahh… summer vacation! I remember how much hearing these two words would light up every primary and high schoolers’ eyes, thinking about all the amazing trips and activities they were going to take part in. For most university students nowadays, these two words have lost their true meaning. Certainly, summer vacation still rhymes with school break, but the immense pressure from employers to have in-field work experience prior to graduation forces university students to give up on their summer trips to participate in these famous co-op programs. Most would agree that travelling abroad is a rich experience that allow a person to deepen his understanding of other cultures, make long-lasting memories and discover this amazing world we are living in. Would it not be perfect for a student to gain valuable work experience without having to give up on discovering another country? This year, I participated in a program called the Canada-Japan Co-op program, which allows Canadian university students to take part in a 4 to 12 months internship in the land of the rising sun.

Participating in this program is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given. If I could, I would do it again without any hesitation. Japan is an amazing country that has so much to offer. I am bringing back to Canada valuable work experience, increased knowledge in my field of study and long-lasting memories. I hope the Canada-Japan Co-op Program will continue its services to give the chance to more students to live this beautiful experience.

Kyle Sama

Software Engineering
Concordia University
Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) from May 2010 – April 2011

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to go to Japan. I started getting into Japanese culture when I was in high-school and the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to experience it firsthand! However, that was always just a dream, something I’d probably never do. Then one year I decided to go to Japan. I would save up and go. So I planned a cross-Asia trip that would end in Japan and I would act on this plan right after I graduated. One week later, my program coordinator asked me “Hey, do you want to go to Japan?” I was surprised. Four months and one awesome CJCP training week later, I stepped off the plane at Kansai International Airport.

Fast forward eight months. I’ve been in Japan for almost a year, and it is almost time to go home. All I can think about is how far I’ve come. I’ve started learning an entirely different language with a unique writing system (not to mention all the kanji). I’ve worked in an internationally renowned company in robotics for almost a year, and I’m living in a country I’ve been dreaming about since I was young! Of course life has its ups and downs which can happen anywhere you live, but the amount of fantastic and amazing experiences I’ve had here have more than made up for all of the bad. I’ve met so many people and made so many great friends from all over the world. For me this has been a once in a lifetime experience that I will never, ever forget, and one that has opened so many new doors for me on top of just being a great adventure. Besides all that, and possibly the most important thing, the food here is really, really good. Highly recommended!