sesam.hu

Engineering Manager / Trail Runner / Budapest, Hungary

Higher Ed, Hungary

Recently got a message from the university informing the student body that due to the budget lockup the aim of which is to cut down operational costs all the campus buildings will be closed between 22 December and 6 January. Signups for exams in this timeframe will be deleted and the affected students will need to reapply. Just another day in Hungary.

Corvinus University of Budapest

The rector of my alma mater had to send a letter to the students and staff today to react to the leaked proposal by the under-secretary for education Rózsa Hoffmann according to which Corvinus University may be closed, its faculties broken up and merged with four other universities.

Rector Tamás Mészáros wrote that the university has not been contacted or asked to participate in any consultation regarding this plan. He believes that such a decision would be inconsistent with the European values as well as diminish the competitiveness of Hungary. The popularity, achievements and international recognition of the university are values to be improved not destroyed.

Corvinus University is currently ranked 62nd in the Financial Times European Masters in Management rankings.

Árvíztűrő

Egyik Corvinusos szemináriumomon előadást kell tartani a diákoknak. Eddig kettőt láttam, ahol tulajdonképpen egész jól használták a PowerPointot. Azért látszik, hogy a levelezőre már inkább tapasztalattal rendelkezők járnak.

Viszont előjött az a hiba, hogy mindkét esetben egy olyan betűkészletet is kiválaszottak, amelyben a magyar ő és ű betűk nem szerepeltek, amiket ilyenkor a rendszer egy közeli betűtípussal jelenít meg. Persze ez nyilván sosem tökéletes helyettesítés, és eléggé kirívó az ilyen betűcsere. Én ezt szóvá is tettem, amikor a prezentációkat tárgyaltuk, de nem tűnt úgy, hogy nagyon komolyan vettek volna. Inkább lesajnáló legyintéseket kaptam.

Pedig szerintem ez fontos kérdés, illetve ha jó prezentációt szeretne valaki, akkor az ilyen apróságokra is illik ügyelni szerintem. Az is igaz persze, hogy igen kevés valóban jól összerakott prezentációt látni. A nagy átlag inkább a siralmas kategóriába tartozik, főleg az egyetemeken.

Mégis megbotlik?

Hallgatói körökben nagy a felzúdulás a tervezett új oktatási törvény azon részével kapcsolatban, amely korlátozná a vizsgázási és tárgyújrafelvételi lehetőségeket két-két alkalomra.

Nos, léteznek ennél szigorúbb rendszerek is: Japánban egy, azaz 1 alkalommal lehet valamiből vizsgázni. Ha elkéstél, elfelejtetted, aznap negyven fokos lázad volt, vagy csak nem tudtál készülni, akkor bizony rossz neked. Nincs utóvizsga. Súlyosbítja a helyzetet, hogy a vizsgaidőpontot a professzor jelöli meg, és nincs lehetőség több opció közül választani. Előfordul így, hogy egy-egy napon több (adott esetben nagyon nehéz) vizsgája is van a diáknak. A vizsga után reklamációnak kevés esetben adnak helyet. (Értsd: soha.)*

Ezzel szemben arról, hogy hányszor próbálkozik valaki egy tárggyal, nincs szabályozás, valamint nem nagyon jellemző a tárgyak egymásra épülése sem. Például a Magánjog A vizsga nem megléte nem akadályozza a Magánjog B felvételét. (Más kérdés, hogy aki nem vizsgázott le az A-ból, annak nagyon meg kell majd küzdenie, ha át akar menni a B-n.)*

Nem szeretném letenni a voksom egyik rendszer mellett sem, viszont azt sem gondolom jónak, hogy – intézménytől függően – tucatszor is lehet akár egy tárgyból vizsgázni, ha valaki minden alkalmat kihasznál. Könnyen elvesztheti a komolyságát így az egész felsőoktatás.

* Ezek konkrét példák a Kobe Egyetemről. Annak utána kellene járni, hogy mekkora szabadsága van az egyes intézményeknek a saját szabályozásukban. Személyes beszélgetéseim alapján a fentiekhez hasonlóan működik az összes (állami) japán egyetem.

If I had my way

A lot of people replied to my ‘State of SeSam address‘ for which I am thankful. I completely agree with most of the comments, especially since I too think that staying home wouldn’t have been necessarily better. In fact, if I look back, the reason why I even tried and accepted the scholarship back then was my need to be different. I don’t think of myself as the person who’d be satisfied with doing the same thing the majority of his peers do. I don’t mean it in the cliché be yourself way, more like I dread being boring and ordinary.

Had I stayed home and finished university there I’d probably be complaining about my dull life, my nine to five job and the horrendous payments on my mortgage. And I’d be convinced that I wasted my good years without doing anything interesting.

I fondly remember the moment when I watched The Family Stone and I realised that everything Meredith was saying about her time in Hong Kong I experienced. I knew all the locations she mentioned. And also – unlike Everett, who confessed his regret about never getting around to it – I shared meal with the monks in their uphill monastery. I could have missed all that.

(I’d swear I already wrote about this but none of the keywords resulted in any hits in the archives. Should I be repeating myself, please accept my sincerest apologies. My brain is getting old.)

On the other hand, who am I kidding. There is nothing special about studying abroad, not even in Japan. I also can’t think of anything I can do better than anyone else. Much as I like to brag about it the only time I’ve been outside Japan was the aforementioned trip to HK. And no matter how much I tinker with computers I don’t think I qualify for being a geek even. So what should I be proud of?

It’s all ambivalent. I can’t decide if I really am the worthy person I like to think myself to be or it’s all just deluded arrogance and I embarrass myself by even hinting it.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m alone with my view of the country though. Just this week I bumped into two kohais on my way home. We talked about being in Japan. They said the exact same things I usually bring up: complained about the impossibility of making friends with the Japanese, the lack of understanding, the latent inhospitality. One of them expressed his wish of  transferring to Osaka due to the more foreigner-friendly credit point system. Seemingly the really comfortable scholarship cannot counterbalance the instilled depression. ‘I wouldn’t mind staying for Master’s if life here was any good.’ I was told.

I admit I’m not the most tolerant and open of all people, but I’m not just making up the Japan I write about.

As for my last couple of months I don’t think I will have too many opportunities. Without the steady influx of scholarship I’ll probably have to restrict my expenses to (cheap) food. That removes any chance of travel unless I walk or ride the bicycle. As a fail-safe plan I am taking boatloads of classes so even if I end up failing a bunch I’d still gather enough credits to graduate. Which means even less free time than I used to have. The area is also teeming with native speakers of English who are all per definitionem more desirable for a teaching job than me.

To finish the title, I’d burn this whole building down.

Through gritted teeth

It’s been a bit hard writing to this journal lately, because I wasn’t sure about sharing what really was on my mind. After all once something is out there is bits and bytes there will always be a way to retrieve it. There’s no going back, and eventually too much honesty will surely just blow up in my face.

Anyway, readers with a keen eye to details should already have asked themselves: if the first posts from Japan are dated from April 2004 and the scholarship is for 5 years then what the hell is he still doing over there?

Well, the reason is that I have failed. At the end of my eighth semester I didn’t have the required number of credits to graduate.

Just writing this down is hard, because I wasn’t thinking of myself as a person who couldn’t finish university on time. When it came to studies I was considered smart, successful. Well that’s the past, so now I feel very angry – mostly at myself – and terribly awfully ashamed. Not wanting to look people in the eye ashamed. (Good thing there’s this site and I don’t actually have to talk to anyone.)

After all many have overcame this obstacle before. And not even with substantial hardships at that. I can visualise their gloating faces and the I told you sos quite well. I shudder at the thought of becoming the anecdotical example reminding the future generations who come here to study what to avoid.

But really, how did it come to this?

I could put the blame on external causes. In general, Japan as a country and its inhabitants as individuals have never really warmed up to the non-Japanese. I have always been viewed as the unwanted problematic foreigner in classes and never received much help or encouragement from the professors. Rather some had me failed just on the account of being a nuisance. In addition to that the credit system is one of the strictest here in Kobe, with not much room for mistakes, at least compared to other Japanese universities. I couldn’t just take a lot of classes in hopes of passing at least a good number of them because there is a limit on how many credits a student can take per year. This limit – while more than enough for the Japanese – can be problematic if we take into account the fact that I am not quite fluent in the language just yet. Of course this has never been seen as an issue by the administration, not even when I asked if I could try and take a few extra credits’ worth of classes in my last semester. Rules are rules and they won’t be bent for some filthy gaijin.

At the end of the day however none of these matter and I can only blame myself. I applied for the scholarship. No one forced me. I knew it was not going to be a walk in the park. I knew that I shouldn’t have been lazy about certain classes, that I should have just forced myself to sit down and study all night if I had to. I should have taken the first year of language studies a lot more seriously. I shouldn’t have lost credits to absolutely stupid things like mistaking the day of the exam. I probably should have made more friends, especially with locals. Because now everyone else I knew finished and went home and I am here pretty much alone. I was even told I should have had a Japanese girlfriend: if anything that would have had a great effect on my language skills.

I didn’t do any of the above and now I’ll have to stay in Kobe for another semester. To make matters worse naturally the scholarship is over, I won’t receive a penny anymore. I’ll have to pay tuition and living expenses. And by ‘I’ I mean my parents of course. Ironically the recent changes in exchange ratios just doubled these costs. More reason to feel contrite.

But there isn’t anything else I could do. I am not about to just drop out and fill shelves in a supermarket. Even though when I finish, if I finish, prospects won’t be much better. At the age of 26 a simple BA degree is hardly impressive. Of course with no agreement between Hungary and Japan this degree will worth exactly nothing at home, as if I didn’t have one.

Well, least I have seen a part of the world most people will never, I guess.