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!

Academic Culture at Bocconi University

The academic culture at Bocconi University is a little different to that of Ohio State University.  Bocconi University is ranked as one of the top Economics and Finance Institutions throughout all of Europe, and by the content and difficulty of their coursework, I would have to say they live up to their standards.  I am enrolled in classes they specifically assign for their exchange students, so my classes are taught in English and they are filled with students from around the world.  It is interesting to have students from so many different backgrounds all in one room.

Although this is a business school in Italy, we study how the financial markets and institutions work in the United States of America.  I think it is interesting that such a prestigious university from across the world studies the financial markets of America, and not so much of their own country.  I am thinking that this has to do with America’s dominant central role in the world economy.

Something else I thought was interesting was how Bocconi sets up their class structure.  As an exchange student, we have an option to either be an “attending student” or a “non-attending student”.  As an attending student, you have group assignments, and homework that count towards your final grade in addition to your final, and mid-term exams.  As a non-attending student, you are only graded on the final exam, and that is 100% of your grade.  You have no homework, group assignments, or anything.  The exam is just based on the textbook.

Overall, I am enjoying my experience as a student at Bocconi, because they have a very efficient office set up for exchange students to help them get around, and answer any questions exchange students may have.  Thus, because of them I had a very smooth admission process into the university.  In addition, the courses that I am studying are taught with professors who are genuinely interested in seeing their students succeed, so that makes learning much more fun and enjoyable.

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!

Creativity in Singapore

Last week during my Current Issues in Business, Culture, and Society class, a very interesting speaker came in to give a talk.  Randolf Arriola, a Singaporean musician spoke to our class about the importance of creativity.Randolf is known for his experimentation with loops music. He plays with a guitar and attached is a machine that can record the music the guitar plays and then play it back through the sound system. Randolf layers sounds on top of each other so that it comes together to create the illusion of a one-man band. It was an extraordinary thing to see him play. You can watch one of his recordings here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJvTT-x8ZAI

After his performance of a few songs, he explained why he thought creativity is lacking in Singapore. Randolf argued that creativity is lacking in Singapore’s society and economy because the culture was first built on effectiveness. Singapore is still a young country (only 50 years old!) and for it to become of the best cities in the world to live in (in terms of safety, health insurance, economy), the culture was geared towards effectiveness rather than creativity. Singapore is a city of rules. Or should I say, a city of fines. People like to stick to the familiar instead of risk-taking (Singaporeans are pretty high on the risk-aversion scale). The arts are considered inferior compared to science and math and people are encouraged to stick to a structure in the workplace (things that a local student told me about). Randolf also argued that in order for Singapore to compete in the 21st century, it would have to become a more creative and innovative society.

This is a big difference compared to the US, as Americans are supposed to be embedded with the spirit of entrepreneurship. Creativity and innovation is the backbone of American businesses and this talk made me more aware of it. To me, this always just seemed …obvious. As if creativity and innovation were fundamental parts of any country’s culture and society (which I now realize is not true).

It made me realize that working abroad could have a lot more implications than I originally thought, (I’m relating this to working abroad because it’s something I’ve thought about and is one of the reasons I wanted to go on exchange). Not only would you have to get used to the culture, you would also have to learn to adapt to a completely new work culture. My friend told me that Singaporean businesses like things to be done in a certain way and there’s very little freedom in how you complete your work because they are so focused on doing it the most efficient way possible. Compared to the US, I think people in the workplace are usually given more freedom, given that they get the results their boss wants.

This doesn’t discourage me from wanting to work abroad however, in fact it makes me even more curious.

 

Impact of Going Abroad

Studying abroad with Fisher has been one of the highlights of my college experience. In our short time of 11 days we were able to see and experience so many things. I had previously studied abroad in high school with my senior Spanish class to Costa Rica to experience the culture and language. This immersion was entirely different. The business component is what made this trip. Being able to speak in my native language, English, to global business professionals is something that simply could not be done in a normal classroom at Ohio State.

This experience opened my eyes to just how connected the world is today. We were able to meet Ohio University band students and directors who were playing at the Vatican, an English teacher from my hometown of Dayton (Ohio), and plenty of Michigan and OSU fans. In a single restaurant in Italy we met people from Denmark, Romania, Italy, Finland, England, Spain, Brazil, Germany, and France. In one single restaurant. These were just people my own age that we spoke to. It was unbelievable.

Our classroom discussions were reinforced daily in real life discussions. While we were discussing the European Union with one of the representatives I remembered tidbits of information that Melissa had taught us in class. This was classroom learning implemented in the truest form. We were using knowledge learned from a book to speak with someone who actually worked in the EU! It was phenomenal. It made the learning experience so much more real and beneficial.

One interesting fact I remembered from the class is a woman that was mentioned who ran a business making gluten-free dough. Surprisingly, most of her business was overseas through exporting. Today’s world is so much more different than it was thirty years ago. It’s hard to believe a woman can make a living selling dough by shipping it all over the world as opposed to a conventional bakery.

After going abroad with Fisher I am much more interested in International Business. Although my major is Finance I definitely plan to look into career opportunities that may allow international travel opportunities. It would be amazing to find a job with a global corporation that would allow me to meet with colleagues in other countries.

The benefits of going abroad are not only academic and professional. Some of my best friends at Ohio State are Global Lab students that I never met before this trip. We bonded in the class time and overseas. Not only that, but the friendships we have made will surely be valuable someday. We are all Fisher Direct Honors students. When we returned in the fall and visited the involvement fair I saw more Global Lab students than any of my other friends. We were all there representing different organizations! Whether it was the running club, or a fraternity or sorority, or the Undergraduate Finance Association, so many of us were there. The students who went on this trip with me are some of the best, brightest, and most involved in Fisher. There is no doubt that we are all headed toward bright futures.

 

How Firm Thy Friendship O-H-I-O

Academic Life at SMU

Since it’s week 5 already, I feel pretty settled in. The adjustment to SMU was interesting at first but now I think I’ve gotten used to it. There are a lot of small differences between SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business and OSU’s Fisher College of Business.

Overall it’s similar but there are small differences. For one thing, group work is a big deal here. I’m glad that business classes at Fisher required a lot of group work as well because I definitely feel more prepared than my some of my European exchange students (most them were rarely required to do group work for their universities). The group work here is pretty different though, since classes meet for 3 hours at a time instead of breaking it down to smaller chunks of time like 55 minutes, three times a week. Therefore, there is a lot of time for student presentations. Usually the structure will go something like this: the professor lectures the first half of class and then a student group will present the second half of class with material that adds on to the lecture. The students here are very good with PowerPoint and presentation skills as a result.

Another difference between SMU and OSU is the amount of participation that is encouraged here. All of my classes have mandatory participation while I can only think of a handful of classes I’ve taken at OSU that have required that. Every student also has an extravagant name card that they use so that professors will note down their participation. The exchange students really stand out in this case because we all have handwritten name cards on loose-leaf paper. I really do like this part about SMU and I’m hoping some of my classes I take in the future at OSU will be similar.

Classrooms are pretty similar to Fisher’s classrooms!

Since my classes are all 3 hours, I actually only have class from Tuesdays until Thursdays, giving me a weekend of Friday to Monday. This is especially nice for traveling which most exchange students take advantage of. The local students take advantage of this time by having more time to do extra curricular activities (meetings aren’t limited to the week, some are during the weekend) and/or work on group presentations and projects. I’ll post about some of the traveling I will do in a future blog post!