St. Gallen Symposium

One of the top business schools in Switzerland brings together hundreds of leaders every year to have a chance to discourse on a central theme – a theme based on what the committee considers as a highly relevant topic in today’s world.

To do this, they invite current world leaders – be it in the political scene or the business world. They call them Leaders of Today.

To pass on the baton, they also invite people they consider as future leaders. They call them Leaders of Tomorrow.

These people are generally invited. That’s how you get in. You get invited.

How do you get invited? You need to have accomplished a lot (like be the CEO of a big company or invent something or cure cancer). So what if you aren’t one of these high profile individuals? You join an essay competition.

For current post-graduate students, they can join an essay competition about the current year’s theme. That’s it. No recommendations, registration fees, etc. needed.

Out of all submissions, they select the top 100 essays and invite these students to join the symposium – all expenses paid for btw. The organization will pay for your plane ticket, accommodations, food, insurance and land transport. Even the visa application is free!

So, how to do this?

1. Check if you are eligible. You have to be enrolled in a post graduate degree – it varies though, so double check every year. A couple of years back even undergrads can apply. You also have to be young enough (coz you’re supposed to be the Leader of Tomorrow) – normally less than 30 years old at the time of submission.

2. Write your essay and submit. Oh, I also needed a certification from my school that I am indeed enrolled. So yes, you need to be enrolled in a school. Any school.

3. Wait.


January. Invitation.

The people from St. Gallen go all over the world to invite students to apply. Even if you are not “invited”, you can still apply. Just go to their site.

February. Deadline of submission.

For 2017, it was during the first week of February.

March. Results.

I’ve got mine via email on March 7, 2017.

April. Administrative matters.

There’s constant communication regarding visa application, tickets, etc. They are very detailed and thorough, way better than the graduate students of another event I participated in.

May. The Symposium!


Schengen Visa in Less Than 24 Hours

April 15, 2017

Since I’m going to a symposium in Switzerland, I applied for a visa at the Swiss Embassy in Tokyo. There’s not much to read about it – probably because the Japanese don’t need visa to go to Europe.

How to Prepare

1. Go to their website to fill up the online application. Then print it out.

2. Prepare the documents. I printed out the list in the site and checked them one by one. Oh, you’ll have to present your actual resident’s ID, but I included a copy just to be safe.

3. Go to the embassy!

Yes, it’s cherry blossom season so of course there’s sakura near the embassy

At the Embassy

They only open from 9am to 12noon, so prepare accordingly.

1. Get off at Hiro-o Station of Hibiya line, take exit 3. Once you go out, turn right. After the conbini, there’s a small street at the right. Turn right and just follow the road.

2. Ring the bell at the embassy. They speak Japanese and English, of course. The room is fairly small, proceed to the counters on the left. Honestly, it’ll take a special snowflake to get lost here. I was the only person then, so thankfully no lines whatsoever. They say it might be because the Japanese don’t need a visa to go to EU, but then again they don’t need a visa to go to US but the lines at US embassy is loooong. But I digress.

3. They’ll take your papers and ask you whether you wanna pick it up or have it mailed. Of course I chose to have it mailed. So I paid the JPY600 fee. You’ll then be asked to write your address in an envelope they will provide.

4. Wait while they check your documents.

5. They’ll call you to take your picture and prints. This is done via a machine booth in the middle of the room.

6. Go home.
I went to the embassy on Thursday, April 14, 10am. I received the mail on Friday, April 15, 12:30pm. It easily is the fastest processing I’ve had in my life. Thank you, Swiss Embassy!