Monday, October 3, 2011

Aquarium and Japanese Business

On Sunday after lunch I went with my host mom to Shin-Sapporo. We drove there and parked at the top of a parking garage which connected to, I think, a train or subway station and a shopping mall. What was interesting was that it connected at the top of the parking garage and all the connecting pathways were several stories off the ground and sometimes on flat, outdoor, balcony like areas alongside buildings. While there, we went to an aquarium which had a variety of different fish and even penguins and otters (or were they seals?). After that, we went to an import foods store and got some cereal, although the only cereal options were three different kinds of a cereal I'd never heard of and three different kinds of oatmeal. Luckily the cereal they did have is pretty good. We got some snacks too, along with slices of cake from another shop on the way home. Also on the way home we stopped at another big Book-Off store, which had used books, movies, CDs, and video games. It was so big that I really didn't know where to look for anything I wanted and there was so much it was difficult to just browse. Next time I think I'll bring a list of my favorite Japanese bands so I know what CDs to look for and don't get overwhelmed by the hugeness of it.

Today, I woke up feeling pretty tired and dreading the day as usual, but classes ended up going pretty well. I finally have somewhat less homework this week and since Japanese class was focused on grammar today, it was a lot easier than sometimes. I had time between classes to do a bunch of homework and then in the afternoon I had my economics class which was long and boring, but at least it finished 40 minutes earlier than it says on the schedule (still over 2 hours though). I know almost nothing about economics and I'm not actually that interested so it was really difficult to pay attention. But since our grade is almost entirely attendance, it doesn't really matter if I pay attention.

Some of the stuff I learned or relearned, was that in Japanese colleges, your major doesn't really matter much and probably won't relate to your job. What matters is if your college was a big name college. Also, working for big corporations is typically a good thing, and most will keep you as an employee for life. You start at the bottom of the company, seemingly regardless of your actual experience, and gradually move up the longer you stay with the company. I can understand having some benefits for employees with seniority, but to me it sounds like the companies focus too much on how long you've been there and not enough on how well you actually do. Employees often work long hours and feel obligated to stay at the office at least until their boss goes home. Often they will go out to a bar after work with their coworkers or golfing on the weekends. It seems like more intrusion of work into private life than I'd like personally. Also, the difference between the wages of a company manager and their employees is not as big as it is in America, but I never really found out why. It almost seemed as though it was just because that's how it has always been. Also, we didn't talk about this today, but gender equality is still an issue in the workplace and many women are unable to get as high in the company as men. Also, there are certain jobs that are primarily women's jobs, like serving tea at meetings. Overall, even though Japanese companies seem to offer good benefits and job security, I don't think I'd want to work for one.

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