Now an 18 month paid vacation is always tempting, but I am reasonably keen to do a PhD, and I am even more keen to have them pay for me to do it. This lead to an adventure through the Japanese paperwork jungle that took 3 weeks, and was filled with as much weirdness as you would expect from Japan. I won't give a full account, but here are some highlights.
- Startlines and Deadlines: In Japan Applications not only have a deadline when they have to be submitted by, but they also have a startline which they not be submitted before! Generally the difference between the two is about 1 week.
- Triplicate: Whenever submitting documents multiple copies are required, luckily this is why we have photocopiers right? Unfortunately in many cases all of the copies have to be hand written!
- Internationalism: Despite my scholarship being only available to foreign students, with no requirement of Japanese language ability, all information about it is only available in Japanese. And not the sort of friendly Japanese you see in the real world, that type of impenetrable legalistic Japanese that caused several of my Japanese friends to shrug when ask about its meaning.
- Submission: I went to the office and asked where I needed to submit my application to. They said "here", so I preceded to hand it over, only to be met with shocked faces. Turns out that although it has to be submitted "here", it has to arrive by post.
- Less than a third of the staff at the international office speak a language other than Japanese.
- Any time you apply for anything you must submit a passport photo.
- CV's in Japan must also be handwritten. And yes, this means if you make a single mistake while writing them out you start again.
- Students start looking for jobs over a year before they graduate university, and if they haven't got one less than 6 months before its generally seen as too late.