Job hunting season at Rikkyo

The job hunting season in Japan is quite different from that in the US. Most colleges students in Japan tend to finish their study when they get the bachelor’s degree and start to work in companies, rather than entering a graduate school. Therefore, college students have to start their job hunting process in their junior year, and most of the students will find jobs before their graduation.

My Japanese classmates and professors at Rikkyo University told me that the Junior year is the busiest year for students because of the pressure to find a job. Also, the chance to get a job after graduation is very low for college students in Japan.

The year arrangement in Japan is also different from the US. The school year always starts in April or May, so the autumn semester is the last semester in their Junior year. The job hunting season this year started in November. So it is very common to see students wearing suits walking in the Rikkyo campus starting November.

Weekend in Kyoto-Japanese Autumn and Red Leaves

Last weekend, I had a very short but memorable trip to Kyoto, the old capital city of Japan from more than a thousand years. Before Japan changed its capital city to Tokyo, Kyoto was the center of Japanese politics, economics and culture.

We were taking the Shinkansen (the high-speed railway network in Japan) from Tokyo to Kyoto. It took around 2 hours, and on our way there, we met the Mount Fuji, famous for its snow-white “hat”.

In Kyoto, there are a lot of traditional Japanese Shrines, or Jinja, and temples.  Many of them exist since the ancient times. When we were visiting the Yasaka Shrine, there was a conventional Japanese wedding held inside the shrine (Shown on the middle of the picture above).

Kyoto still keeps the traditional side of Japanese culture. Unlike Tokyo, which is more modern and westernized, people living in Kyoto are more likely to wear Kimono, the traditional Japanese clothes. At first, I was curious to see so many people wearing Kimono walking on the streets. I asked my friend whether there was a festival these days so that people wear Kimono. My friend told me that this is their life style.

Also, we saw several Geigi on our way to a temple, shown on the lower left corner of the picture above.

The natural sight in Kyoto was so breath-taking! It made me feel as if I were in the ancient time of Japan.

And… we also tasted the food in Kyoto. I just think that is is art rather than merely food!

Self-pressured Learning Pattern at Rikkyo

The teaching pattern at Rikkyo University is quite different from that of OSU. Although, this semester, I am enrolled in 8 classes, but I never feel stressed out. At first, I unaccustomed to the teaching pattern here, because instructors didn’t us a lot of pressure.

There is a kind of course called Research Seminar here at Rikkyo University. The Research Seminar is held every year, and according to the standing of the students, they could choose to enroll in the seminar. I enroll in the 4th Year Research Seminar for International Business. The class size is small, and there are only 12 students in our class. I talked with my Japanese classmates in our class, some of them told me that this is the only course that they are taking this semester. The time arrangement in Japan is also different from the US, college students always graduate in March, so this is the last semester for them. The content of this seminar is unique, too. Every week, we have a report or part of a book to read, mostly they are theories about the current international business.

This is one of the books that we have to read in three weeks. It analyzes the changing patterns of Japan and Germany under the global trend of Financialization and under the impact of US and UK.

Our instructor, Professor Ozaki, never forces us to do anything. At the beginning of this semester, he told us about our assignments and time arrangement. Then, all we have to do is to study by ourselves, reading the books and discussing during the class time.

I think this kind of teaching pattern is really depending on students ourselves. It is really self-pressured. And it requires me to be more careful on the time arrangement for my study. Professors do not keep sending us email to tell us what is due. And this is also another new thing I learn from this exchange experience.

6 Reasons To Study Abroad in Singapore

Asia usually gets overlooked as a study abroad destination as most American students pick European or Australian destinations. However, as I come near the end of my study abroad experience here in Singapore, I’ve come to the conclusion that Singapore might be one of the best places to study abroad.  Here are 6 reasons why –

1.The weather is an amazing  85-90 degrees all year round

Sentosa Island, Singapore

What can beat perfect beach weather? Coming from OSU, this weather in Singapore in November is a dream come true. It’s hard to feel gloomy or stressed when the sun shines almost everyday. Also, Singapore is built around the heat so this isn’t like summer in NYC. There’s air condition everywhere, even in the MRT stations (luxuriously comfortable compared to the NY subway stations).

2. Singapore is an English speaking country

Most people probably aren’t aware that Singapore has four national languages and one of them is English, along with Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. It’s incredibly easy and comfortable to get around since there is no language barrier. I have to admit, I had no idea Singapore was an English speaking country before I Googled it. Actually, most of my friends weren’t even know where Singapore was on the map when I told them I was coming here! (It’s wedged beneath Malaysia, in case you weren’t aware either!) Since Singapore is such a small country, I think it often gets overlooked. Singapore is roughly the size of NYC, maybe a bit smaller. There are 5 million people living here compared to 8 million in NYC.

3. The business education at SMU is top-notch

If you’re a business major, then there’s no better place to be than in Singapore. Singapore ranks No.1 worldwide for being most business-friendly. Singapore knows how to do business and that trickles down to SMU (Singapore Management University) where I study. The business school is extremely engaging and really tries to prepare its students for success in the business world by making participation and presentations a must in it’s curriculum. The smaller classroom settings at SMU compared to the lecture halls at OSU has been a nice change of pace as well.

4. The ease of traveling around Southeast Asia

This was taken during a 10-day recess week trip to Burma!

Traveling out of Singapore to other countries in Southeast Asia is extremely easy. Cheap flights out of Singapore are made possible by budget carriers like Jetstar and Tigerair. Since I’ve started school here in August, I’ve traveled to 6 different countries already (Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and even Australia!) I’m really surprised with the amount of traveling I’ve been able to do here (and very grateful too!) because traveling was a priority for my exchange experience. My round-trip tickets for weekend getaways have never cost me more than 260$ USD and that one was to Australia! It blows my mind that a round trip ticket from Singapore to Australia (8 hour flight!) could be cheaper than a ticket from NY to LA. Not only are the flights inexpensive, traveling around Southeast Asia is extremely cheap as well. For a typical local meal, I can expect to pay 2-3$ along with accommodation priced around 5-10$. What more can you ask for when you’re on a student budget?

5. Singapore is an extremely safe city

Most people have an image of Southeast Asia as dangerous. And it’s true, some parts of it is dangerous but the majority of the places I’ve traveled to are not nearly as bad as some people make it out to be. However, when the rest of Southeast Asia’s safety standards are compared next to Singapore, it comes nowhere close. Singapore is one of the safest urban cities in the world. I am not joking, you can walk around at 4 AM and not have to fear getting mugged or assaulted. Drug laws are strict here and poverty hardly exists on the streets. And this is all because Singapore has very, very strict punishment for crimes such as heavy fines, long imprisonment, and even caning.

6. Opportunities to meet exchange students from all over the world

Roommates!

Although Singapore is not a popular study abroad destination for Americans, it’s actually a very popular destination for students from Europe. As a result, American exchange students are rare here (maybe less than 6%). The rest are from Europe and other parts of the world. I’ve met many incredible people on my exchange who have taught me so much more about the world. I’m currently living with five girls— three from Finland, one from Germany, and one from Brazil. It’s sort of our own little melting pot—everyday we get the opportunity to exchange stories about our country and culture to each other, and as a result we learn so much from each other.

 

Although these are all great reasons to study in Singapore, the truth is, anywhere you choose to study abroad will be amazing and life changing. The most important thing is to not be scared and just go for it!

Encounter with Jinja

When I was hanging out with my friend today in Tokyo, we just had a unexpected and surprising encounter with a traditional Japanese Jinja. Jinja is the Japanese name for Shrine. It is the place where people come to make wishes to Gods. Most Jinja’s in Japan were build in old times and are kept perfectly almost in the same way until nowadays. We never thought about that there could be one there, because it was a really modern area where we were walking along. The Jinja itself is located between modern buildings in a small street.

These are wish-paper that people tied on the ropes, expecting the Gods can know and help them to achieve their wishes.

The atmosphere in Jinja was really amazing, because it made me feel that I was taken back in old days. Through the marks by the time left on the building and wood, I can imagine how many years has passed along with this Jinja. The Jinja never seem to be unhomonized with other modern surroundings, rather, it is a place where I can get closer to the tradition and culture of Japan.

Live with Japanese Traditions

This Tuesday, I had a great encounter with the traditional and typical Japanese life style.

Nice Taste! –Yokohama Ramen

Firstly, my friends took me to a typical Japanese ramen restaurant named Yokohama Ramen. It was not big nor wide, and I just guess that maybe its capacity is around 20 people. Customers could choose whether to sit on an ordinary table or to sit in front of the kitchen (where they were able to watch how the stuff are preparing foods).

The ramen I ordered tasted really good. I had never had such a delicious ramen before! The soup was hot and the noodles themselves absorbed all the flavors.

This was the menu board put outside the restaurant. What impressed me was that all the paintings and words were handmade. So amazing and really attractive! This board shows the top sellers of the restaurant and the last one says that between 11:00 to 18:00, the restaurant provides free rice to customers. (In Japan, people usually eat ramen and rice together.)

 

Interesting Sport — Kendo

One of my friends here at Rikkyo University is taking a recreation class at Waseda University 早稲田大学. And he told me that it is fine if I come and watch their practice. So, I was really happy to go with him all the way to Waseda University to watch the Kendo class.

Kendo 剣道 s a traditional Japanese sports. People, wearing traditional Japanese clothes for Kendo,use bamboo sword and armor. Mostly, they compete one-to-one and should attack certain parts of the body of the competitor in order to gain points on the game. The most interesting part is that they usually shout really loud when they attack the competitor successfully.

It is great that I can experience so much of Japanese traditions and I hope I could enjoy more of the Japanese culture =)

Top 3 Favorite Foods in Singapore

1. Chicken Rice

This dish was what my Lonely Planet Guidebook claimed a “must-try” while in Singapore. Indeed, they were right. Chicken Rice is actually considered one of the national dishes of Singaporean culture. It’s a dish that originated from Hainan, China and was brought over to Singapore by early immigrants. It’s prepared with fragrant rice (rice that has been pre-fried in chicken fat and cooked in chicken broth), bite-size steamed white chicken, and served with soy sauce and ground chili paste on the side. It’s a simple dish but every time I eat it, I wonder why I don’t eat more of it!

2.  Nasi Lemak

The first time I tried this dish, I was at a hawker center (open-space food courts in Singapore with many different food stalls). I saw that this particular stall had a long queue (Singaporeans love to queue because it must mean that the food is very good) so I decided to join in. The food this stall was serving was Nasi Lemak, which is also considered a national dish of Singapore. Nasi Lemak has its origins in Malaysia. It’s prepared with fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and comes with a fried egg, fried chicken wing, and served with small fried anchovies, and sambal (a spicy sauce). It’s usually very cheap, I pay around 3.50$ SGD for one meal (equivalent to 2.82$ US dollars!).

3. Char Siew Bao

Char Siew Bao’s are Cantonese barbequed pork- filled buns. They are simply delicious and surprisingly filling. It’s usually found in dim sum restaurants but in Singapore there are a lot of on-the-go dim sum stalls at food courts, which makes it convenient to eat this as a snack during any time of the day. There is a food court on my campus that has one of the stalls and I always find myself grabbing a bun in between classes!

Go with Wendy’s Japan

The most unforgettable and exciting experience that I have in Rikkyo University is that my teammates and I are doing a business project for Wendy’s to regain the market share in Japan.

This is the main content of a course named Bilingual Business Project. The instructor came to our orientation day and gave some description about this course to us. In the first place, I just thought that it might be interesting working on a business project of a company that I am quite familiar. ( And Wendy’s was founded in Columbus, Ohio, which makes me more passionate about the project.)  I could never imagine that I can get such a chance to work on a real situation.

Wendy’s first entered Japanese Market in 1980 but closed all the restaurants in December, 2009. Two year after, Wendy’s re-enter Japan on December 27, 2011 and opened the first new restaurant of its Joint Venture with Higa Industries, deciding to make some changes on its brand positioning and marketing strategies in order to gain more market share in Japan. And our task is to analyze the current Japanese fast food marketing conditions including the macro and micro factors, and then give our own recommendations to Wendy’s on the marketing strategies in detail.

What made me even more excited was that Mr. Higa, the CEO of the Higa Industries came to our class and gave a speech about his expectation and target of Wendy’s Japan!

Mr. Higa gave us some documents and articles about himself.

And some coupons too =)

Now, my teammates and I are still working on our marketing analysis part and I really hope that our team could do a good job on this project!

What I Learned From My 9-Hour Group Meeting

The other day, I took part in what I will call The Longest Group Meeting of My Life. It was 9 hours to be precise. It was for my Management of People at Work class (equivalent to BUSMHR 3200).

We had to prepare a 20-minute presentation on a research question that explores an Organizational Behavior topic. We had to come up with a model (how having a family affects an employee’s tendency to work from home and or/ tendency to work overtime and whether the age of kids influence these correlations) and research existing literature to propose hypothetical results. Phew, that was a mouthful!

And here’s what I concluded about SMU students during this 9-hour meeting (we started at noon and stayed until 9 PM in a group study room…)

  1. SMU students pay a lot of attention to detail

It was impossible to move on from one step of the project to the next if the first step was not perfected. I found that the students have a hard time jumping around to different parts of the project. For me, I tend to focus on the end result. For my group mates, they were more interested in specific details. 75% of the time, they would always end the meeting by saying “Let’s ask Prof” (it’s very normal to call professors here by Prof). They were always unsure whether our progress was going in the right direction. Perhaps this could be related to my previous post about creativity in Singapore and how people might feel uncomfortable with the idea of thinking outside of the box.

  1. The concept of Polychronic Time was very evident

Polychronic time system is a more relaxed approach to time and scheduling. Cultures who are under a polychromic time system are not stressed out by time because they don’t count minutes. Some Asian, Latin American, and African cultures use the this time system.

On the other hand, Western cultures use the monochromic measure of time meaning time is segmented into precise, small units. Western culture such as America take time very seriously because “time is money”.

During this meeting, I realized that SMU students lean towards the polychromic time system. As the hours passed by, I realized that it was not about getting the job done, it was about getting the job done perfectly no matter how long it took. No one seemed to be anguished that the meeting was taking the whole day. When I was in that group study room, time became irrelevant. The only thing that was relevant was our presentation.

  1. Surprisingly, I enjoyed myself during the meeting

99% of the time, I really dislike group meetings. They can be unproductive, confusing, and just plain stressful. However, there are times when group meetings are productive and engaging. This was one of those meetings. I found that SMU students are very engaged in their group projects, with every member giving it their best effort (which can’t be said for some of my pervious group projects at Fisher…). This makes group projects a lot more bearable. It was even enjoyable because it’s one of the few chances I really have to interact with the local students.

So in the end, it wasn’t as nearly as horrible as it sounds. I learned a lot through observation and I even made some new friends!

Quietness in the Modern City

Tokyo is known as a modren city in Asia and even in the whole world. Long before I arrived here, I was expecting the life in Tokyo would be in rapid pace. But when I actually experience the life here, I just found out that the quietness of life in Tokyo is really enjoyable.

Every morning, I was walking from my dorm to Shiki Station to take Densya. When I pass through the street, I can feel the atmosphere of leisure conveyed from other people. It does not imply that everyone is quite relaxed, of course. People in Japan are very hard-working. What I meant is that people are really enjoying their life, even though they have to try hard in their work or study.

Sometimes I can hear people greeting their acquaintance on the street, or saying “Hi” to their familiar store owners. And the way they are talking is not like western-style, such as speaking very loudly or giving a hug to others. They always speak in a relatively low voice and very politely. And my Japanese friends also act in this way. I am also changing my greeting-style gradually. Instead of running to my friends as I always did, I’m now rather smiling to them firstly and waiting until we walk toward each other closer, then we start to talk.  But this way that people are communicating with each other never makes me feel we are more distant. This “quieter” way of communicating can also strengthen our friendship, and sometimes a smile can convey more and people can feel more even if we do not say  a lot of things.

I think this is not just because of the differences between the east and the west. Rather, it is more about Japanese people’s life attitude and the Japanese social culture. And I am really enjoying and appreciating this quietness in Japan, because it tells that even in the modern city like Tokyo, I can still feel the warmth conveying from others.