Field Studies FAQ

IMG_8152Each year since 2011, I have had the privilege of leading a field study course to Japan. The theme changes in some years, but the focus remains on giving students an opportunity to learn about Japan in Japan through hands-on activities and conversations with locals.

If you are considering this program, please read these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) before you complete the application. Please note, these answers are specific to May 2024 and may not apply in other years.

  1. Is the schedule on the application fixed? Answer: For the most part, YES. The course starts after Semester 2 final exams and lasts around 2 weeks.
  2. Is the course finished on the final day of the field study? Answer: NO. You will need to complete parts of the course (final assignment) up to 10 days after returning from Japan. You should be finished with all parts of the course by around 10 June. The entire course occurs in the first special term, so you can take other courses in the later special terms.
  3. How many credits is the course worth?  Answer: 4 – You must pay for these credits.
  4. Do the credits count toward the JS major? Answer: Yes. The course counts toward the 3000-level requirement for the major. This makes it ideal for students who will do (or have done) exchange in Japan (SEP). Mapping 2000-level courses from overseas is easy, but it is difficult to map 3000-level courses. Therefore, majors and minors should plan to take 3000-level courses like this one at NUS. There are no prerequisites for the course, but please note the Japanese language expectations (see #10 below).
  5. Can I apply if I am not a JS major or minor? Answer: Yes! There is no restriction for applicants, and in fact, each year many non-majors/non-minors attend.
  6. I am about to graduate and do not need the credits. Do I have to take the course for credit? Answer: Yes. Only students enrolled in the course for credit can participate. Please note, if you plan to graduate this year and attend the field study, you CANNOT walk at commencement in July. Your degree will not be conferred until September. This is a University rule that the Department of Japanese Studies has no control over.
  7. What is the difficulty level and how will the course be assessed? Answer: The course is standard for a 3000-level JS course. This is an intensive course that requires all your energy but rewards you with a unique and memorable learning experience. Marks will be based on participation, presentations (group and individual), on-site field exercises, and written assignments. You can see some of the past written work on this blog.
  8. What comes after the application? Answer: a group interview in early to mid-February. Successful applicants will know the results soon after the interview. I will offer 10 positions, as well as a handful of ‘alternate’ places, in case a student drops out, which happened in the past. If you are offered a position, you will have about a week to secure your place. The academic portion of the course, however, does not begin until Sem 2 final exams are complete.
  9. Can I participate as a year 1 student? Answer: Yes. However, priority will be given to students who show the maturity (regardless of age) to handle the stresses of a homestay, an intensive 3000-level course, and travel in Japan.
  10. How much Japanese language do I need? Answer: Priority will be given to students with certain proficiency, which can be shown either through courses completed, JLPT certification, or self-study (equivalent of LAJ2202 or JLPT N4). You will need to read some government documents and tourist pamphlets in Japanese, survive in a homestay, possibly take part in student exchange, and speak to strangers. Most importantly, you have to be willing to make mistakes and keep trying!
  11. How much will the program cost? Answer: It will cost around $1200, based on current prices and exchange rates (Jan 2024). Eligible students can also apply for a bursary from NUS. This does not include the flight to Japan, and the amount may change due to exchange rate fluctuations and other costs out of my control. I can provide a more exact estimate later upon request. Trust me, I was very conscious of the cost of everything when I was a student, so I will do everything possible to keep the costs as low as possible.
  12. What does the program fee cover? Answer: domestic transportation (train, bus, taxi), overnight accommodations, entrance fees, and most meals. Items not covered include a few meals, travel insurance, personal shopping, and NUS tuition fees.
  13. Does the program fee cover the cost of the NUS credits? Answer: No, you must pay for the credits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *