My interest in Japan started early: My favorite restaurant as a 3 year old was called Osaka. Shrimp sushi and red bean ice cream, unique foods I couldn’t get at the grocery store, opened the door to my curiosity. In 3rd grade, I learned how to write my name in katakana. In middle school I tried to learn the words to J-pop songs and watched Sailor Moon with my friends. However, it was in high school that I really fell in love with Japan. In my sophomore
year, a Japanese student came to live with my family for a month as part of an exchange program. Sanae was an instant friend and sister and a whole new window into Japanese language and culture. That summer, I traveled to Japan for the first time to stay with her family. I couldn’t speak a word, but after a month in the town, I left hungry to learn and understand. A Japanese department was a must when choosing a college, but in my freshman year, I
wasn’t planning on majoring in it. A combination of engaged professors, enthusiastic peers, and my deep appreciation for the culture of Japan ultimately swayed my decision, leading to a double major of Japanese Language & Literature and Asian Studies. That choice served me well when I moved to Japan after graduation to teach English. Immersion benefited not only my language skills, but my personal growth. I learned to be braver, I learned to be more considerate, and I learned that I had a lot more to learn! My time in Japan inspired me to travel
more and live abroad in other countries. Japanese is a complex language. It is made up of completely unfamiliar characters, grammatical structures, and hidden societal signals. However, it is also one of the most fascinating and satisfying puzzles I have ever attempted, and I wouldn’t be who I am without it.