Tag Archives: Japan

A New Journey

24 Jun

As many of you know, but some of you might not know, I will be moving to Japan soon. And by soon, I mean in t-minus 3 hours I will be on a plane moving to Japan. In one hour I will be leaving my house and my parents, and my hometown friends. I interviewed at BE Academy, located in Osaka, while visiting my friends for a week after my graduation from Lehigh University. For most of university, I was on a pre-medical track. I thought a career in medicine was what I wanted. There were many times throughout college, though, when I wavered from pre-med. However, I always remained a psychology major. I loved and still love psychology and realize that that is truly where my passion lies. I took an emotional development course this past spring semester that opened my eyes to this. I realized children, education, and psychology were all areas I wanted to research in. I have always loved Japan, though. After all, it’s in my blood. Japan has been tugging on my heart ever since I left after 7th grade, and once I went back I felt so at home. In the future, I want to be able to do research in Japan. I believe this year working there now is but just a stepping stone in my path to reaching that future. I am without a doubt unbelievably nervous… I have lived out on my own in California an entire summer, and studied abroad for the summer in Shanghai and for a semester in Osaka before, but somehow I feel like this time will be different. I know it will be different. I know it will be challenging. But I’m also excited and ready for this new journey to begin!

The Japanese Mentality

23 Oct

This past week was the most grueling week I have probably ever experienced. It was mid-term week and I literally had an exam every single day. Monday was a Kanji test, Tuesday was my reading aloud exam for my Reading and Writing Japanese (RWJ) class, Wednesday was my Koutou Shiken (oral exam) in my Spoken Japanese (SPJ) class, Thursday was my written exam for my SPJ class, and Friday was my written exam for my RWJ class. I have never had so many tests so close together that were all worth a good portion of my final grade. I was so nervous for all of them and I was always studying. What I found helped in my studying, though, was not just going through the vocabulary and grammar points over and over by myself, but also using them in the conversations I had with my friends. I think that is what helped the most and is something you can’t really do when you study a foreign language in America because you have nobody to practice on so the only time you ever use the words and sentence patterns are while you are in class. So anybody who really wants to get better in a language, I would highly recommend going to a country where you can practice that language on a daily basis because that’s truly how you get better. What is really impressive about many of the Japanese students here is that while they are speaking with international students they will practice their second or third language so with me they will practice their English, but with my friend from Spain they will practice and learn Spanish, and with students who know French they will practice their French.

The people that surround me here in Japan are full of energy, enthusiasm, and joy. They laugh out loud and don’t hold back. They work so hard, and when something doesn’t work they just try harder. My days have been light and easy being around such people. That isn’t to say that I slack off and have fun all of the time. I have just come to adopt the Japanese value of 「けじめをつける」(kejime wo tsukeru), which translates to: When it’s time to do something, you do it; when it’s time to play you play. When the Japanese do something, they do it with their all. They always put their best foot forward, but are willing to keep putting in the effort to get something done right if it is done poorly the first time. This mentality is something, I think, a lot of Americans have trouble with. If something is not going right, say a class at university, they will give up or drop the class instead of working harder in it. Americans seem to need a quick fix to their problems because they are only looking at the short-term. I think what I have found to be true of my Japanese friends is that they are willing to admit defeat in the present and work harder because they are thinking about their future. I have been thinking a lot about my future lately. I know now that in the future I want to live and work in Japan. So, looking forward towards that goal, I will push myself hard in studying the language and in school so I can get into a good medical school and be able to practice here. ^^ Ganbarimasu がんばります!


10 Oct

You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference. – Steve Jobs

Looking back on my life, I see how the dots have all come together and have created such a connection to get me where I am today. If I didn’t decide to take Japanese in my second semester of my first year at Lehigh University, I might not have majored in Asian Studies and probably wouldn’t have come to Japan to study abroad in my fourth year of university. If I hadn’t chosen Lehigh who knows where I would have ended up and if they’d even have a program to let me study abroad here. If I didn’t live in Tokyo, Japan for 4 1/2 years between ages 8 through 13 who knows if I would even have had any interest in seeing my home country. Many of my relatives, who are Japanese American, still have never set foot in the land of their ancestors, which surprises me. I love seeing my roots and understanding the culture here because much of it has actually been adopted by my relatives but slightly modernized and Westernized. The first dot in this connection, though, was my adoption. If, at the age of 2 weeks old, I had not been adopted by my two loving parents in Japan, who knows where I might be. I could be with a different family in a different country or part of the country and have had a completely different life. I might even have still lived in Japan with the name Yuka Takahashi, the name my birthmother gave me. There have been times when I have looked back on my life and wondered if one thing had changed how the rest of my life would be so different. Right now, though, I am content and wouldn’t dare change a thing because if one of those dots were missing I could be somewhere else right now, but I love where I am right now. This has already truly been the experience of a lifetime, or my lifetime so far. I am sure there will be many great experiences to come in my future, and I will trust that all of the events that will happen are for some greater good to get me to a place like I am now.

A New Chapter

29 Aug

I have been in Japan for 5 weeks already, stayed in 3 homes with different families, and am finally settling in on my own at 5-18 Katahoko higashimachi, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, in Seminar House 3 of Kansai Gaidai University. I live in a suite with 10 girls who are all of different ages and come from different places with different interests. My room is small. In the middle there’s a tatami mat with two futon mattresses. Towards the window there are two desks, and on both sides of the door there is a closet. Although it’s small, it’s all I need for the next 4 months to sleep and study. I bought a used bike the other day for very cheap to help me get around. From the dorm, it’s a nice 10 minute bike ride to the campus. The campus is gorgeous! All of the buildings are red-brick and there’s a nice fountain in the middle of the grounds. We have a Seattle’s Best Coffee and a McDonald’s, three cafeterias, and a convenient store on campus. I tried the main cafeteria today. Zarusoba with vegetable tempura, mango pudding, and a cup of green tea cost me only 380 yen, and it was all delicious! Orientation begins on Wednesday, and I will take my Japanese Placement Test in the morning. We have our opening ceremony on Friday morning and a tour of Kyoto in the afternoon. Our classes will officially begin on Monday, September 4. I am looking forward to starting everything, meeting new people, making new friends, and learning Japanese. I feel like I can’t help but smile… I’m so happy to be here. I miss the company of my cousin and his wife. The time I spent with them will be a memory I will always hold on to. Their laughter and happiness was so contagious. It made me realize how smiling and laughter are all a part of the universal language. So, this is the start of my journey abroad… I’m calling it my new chapter in life. Thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support me! I appreciate it and the encouraging words! I miss everyone at home so much, but I will be home in January! It will come before you know it! And I bet I won’t be ready for it… to leave. I love it here in Japan, my second home. It feels good to be home

Japan Update

31 Jul

JAPAN [7.30.11]

The water looked calm and harmless as we drove by it in Ishinomaki. Looking at how still it sat in the ocean you wouldn’t believe it was the same water that drove in-land destroying hundreds of homes and killing thousands in the March disaster. More than 3 miles in we drove through the residue water. Crushed cars were piled on top of each other, and all that remained of most buildings and homes were the skeletons and foundations. The belongings of peoples’ homes were scattered all across the ground. It was entirely deserted. Some likened it to how they imagined Hiroshima looked after the atomic bomb hit at the end of World War II. A little further in-land in Ishinomaki there was little sign of the tsunami having any effect. The difference was so stark that you wouldn’t believe how terrible it was until you saw it with your own eyes.

We didn’t work over in that area, though. I’m not sure how long it will take until it is restored and habitable again. It looks as though it has hardly been touched, though, probably for a period of mourning. Instead, our work consisted of cleaning out the gutters in a neighborhood nearby. The water was black and the gutters were full of mud. It was a rather small task, but a number of families came out and thanked us sincerely for our work. One couple in particular let us use their water tap outside of their house to wash our hands, and provided us with soap, a towel, and some tea. They were so appreciative of the work we were doing that, although it was tiring and painful at times, it made it that much more worth it.

Ganbarou Nippon! Keep it up Japan. I’m praying for you!