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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Choosing my ゼミ (Part 1)

Since I attended the last ゼミ説明会 (seminar introduction session) that I wanted to, I thought it'd be good to muse about it on the blog. And MEXT scholars, listen up, this is one of the most important decisions you'll have to make in your MEXT life, and in your university, probably the most important decision.

About Tutorials/Seminars

Of course, this is if you have seminars. I think I'm just going to call them tutorials from now on, because that's what I'm used to calling them (I think they're still called "seminars" in America though, but then again, I don't use American English).

Anyway, before I went on that digression. I know that for Kyudai, the Engineering department has "lab" not tutorials. So if you're in the Science stream, you may not have this, but you'll have something similar. I know that Hitotsubashi has tutorials, and most universities should have them too.

In the Japanese university system, you spend your third and fourth years doing tutorials. You pick one teacher, and if he/she lets you into your class, that's where you'll spend a lot of time studying. And going on excursions. And nomikais. And other stuff (I know one tutorial in Kyudai likes to run marathons. Thanksbutnothanks). Basically, it's going to affect half of your university life, so if you don't pick wisely, you'll probably be miserable. Probably. I've not entered tutorials yet, so I can't say for certain.

For the economics department, we have ゼミ説明会 (zemi setsumeikai), which are basically introductory sessions. The teacher talks about the class, then he leaves the room and the students talk about the teacher. And after that, you can normally ask questions and see what it's really like. Some tutorials have have what they call "Open seminars", which is when us second years get to sit in. And on Saturday (10th of January), there was a combined tutorial speech event, where various students reported on their research topics. I went, but if there were any other second year students, I did not see them. Still, it was a good way to see what each tutorial specialises in, and I'd advise everyone to attend as much of all three as possible. Disclosure: I did not go for any "Open Seminars" because it clashed with classes.

Print out from a ゼミ説明会

We were told to download a zip file from the school website, where they have the syllabus, ゼミ説明会 dates and times, and forms in there. You should definitely read the syllabus well, to make sure that you can take the tutorial you want (because there are required subjects for some tutorials - actually, check this as soon as you start taking start your 学部科目). Plus, at least for Kyudai, the teachers will mention if they want a handwritten application, a typed application, or if they don't mind either. This can be make or break, so read it well and don't mix it up.

And now, I'm torn

I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew which tutorial I wanted to enter. But, I went for the ゼミ説明会 today, and it threw me a curveball. Now, I have two tutorials that I want to take, equally badly. One of them is about Corporate Finance. The other is about the Economics of the Internet (Google,, and the like). Both teachers are really nice, and I like both subjects. Hence, me splitting into two right now. I'm actually polling family members with a business background for their opinion now.

If it's possible, I'd like to take both tutorials, one as my main, and the other as my sub. I'm not sure if it's possible, because I just looked at the requirements of the sub and it needs me to turn it in while I'm not in Japan. Gulp.

I'm just gonna go and pray real hard about what to do. I'll update everyone when there's more news (which would probably be after the first application period).

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