CHOOSE YOUR LABORATORY
What are the criterions to choose a "good" laboratory?
The best criterions, and the most easily to get from the professor
that you have chosen, is to ask
- Could you skip the seminars/meetings in
japanese if you do not understand the language.
- Are you free of your schedule
I do not say that
if you waste some hours per week you will be unhappy. Similarly, many
people in the world are not free of their schedule and are
happy in their professional life!
SO? What is the problem?
The problem is if you get an answer "NO" to the two questions it shows that
your professor belongs to a certain type and therefore that induces many
other things not specially pleasant (see the following).
STOP 2. DO NOT BE PRETENTIOUS!
Do not think that the other people
did not want to integrate the japanese society and that you are better
than them, that you can understand the japanese culture, that you will
be happy even if there are unhappy, and so on. This is a common mistake
of young (and less young) people.
The people who came in Japan are, in their great majority, very eager to
know and integrate the japanese society, there are not better, but
not worse, than you.
You can say that the japaneses who are in this laboratory must follow
the rule imposed by the professor. Sure. And so? All people are the same,
japaneses as foreigners. And if you are unhappy, they are simply
also unhappy! However I do not say that it is not an interesting situation:
you will learn many things (I mean personally).
But you will not be satisfied with your
In the following I explain with the help of the survey what are the
important points to have a satisfying professional experience in Japan.
For some points you can check them only if you go in Japan. Therefore,
if you have the possibility, I advice you strongly to:
go to your
laboratory one or two months before going for a longer period
Or, if you cannot, always anticipate a problem and plan something
if you get some trouble in Japan. For example f you want to do
a master or a PhD, try to get an inscription in your country
will have no problem to go back if your stay does not satisfy you.
There have been some examples of people going back without diploma after
one, two or even three years!
The best is to understand why the previous foreigners were not happy in
their professional life and try find some criterions which can be useful.
To do that we can consider the question of the survey:
4.2. Do (did) you enjoy your stay in Japan in your professional life?
and compare the results of the people who have answered
"a lot", "correct", "not".
See the result => STATISTICAL RESULTS
We consider that the important points are those where the results are
different and the unimportant points are those where similar. These
differences are displayed below.
| a) To have relations with your boss and colleagues
|| In Japan, very quickly you can find yourself isolated. It is therefore
very important to have relations with your professor. However if your
professor is very busy, maybe you will have no relation. In this case,
statistically, you will be surely unhappy in your lab.
| b) To have a boss/colleague Open/Friendly/Polite
* The boss has a very important power in Japan, without comparison
to the western country, and we OFTEN need him. With a "bad" boss,
almost impossible to be happy at work.
** avoiding problem with the "japanese politeness": wide gap between what is said and what is expected
*** Possibility to work in a team
| c) To have a good equipment (computer, experiment)
* Do not think that it is because the Japan is a rich country that
all laboratories will have the last of the technique. Far away.
So try to check it before going, asking your professor exactly
what he has. Do not worry to disturb him, he will ask a student
to do it for him.
** In particular check if he your computer will be in English or
japanese and, if you do not speak japanese, ask him if you will
be able to install an English (French, German or what you want)
version. Do not think that the answer will be automatically positive.
And bring your version!
| d) To be free of your schedule
Statistically the people who are very happy are free of their schedule.
A typical week in a Japanese laboratory is Monday-Saturday from 9:30 am
to the "evening", which means, depending of the professor, 7:00 pm
to 23:00 pm. And for some laboratories with some seminars-meeting
on Sunday. To be free of your schedule is a guaranty which is important.
| e) Do not have to assist to the seminar-meeting in Japanese if
you do not speak the language.
No, the answer is not obvious. For 52% of the people who are not
happy they have to. The percentage is only of 33% for the people who are
very happy. More than the time that you waste (in average 3 hours but
this could go until 8 hours like in my laboratory) it represents
a characteristic of the rigidity of your professor. An easy check must
be done before going to Japan.
Non important points:
Which means no differences between
the answers of the people who are "very happy", "happy" or "unhappy"
in their professional life.
| a) Money
It seems that the salary is not the fundamental element to differentiate
the people happy from unhappy.
| b) Knowledge of Japanese
Surprising the knowledge of the Japanese is not an important point.
There is the same proportion for the 3 categories
| c) Number of presence at work
Also not a criterion to differentiate the three categories. However
the happy-very happy people (56 hours in average by week) work
more than the unhappy (51 hours). But this last average is due to
the people who have no contact with their professor. For the other
the average is similar around 55 hours.
| d) Holidays
No differences of answers between the three categories: around 20 days
More comments are accessible at
Comments (in French!)
and you can make your own conclusions looking at:
STATISTICAL RESULTS (in English)
If you have some questions or comments please send me a message:
loison(the usual sign)DamienLoison.com