I have been interested in Japan since I was a child and attended a Japanese family friend’s oshogatsu parties. When I was older I visited Japan on vacation with my parents and thought that I wanted to try living in Japan someday. In college I studied Japanese language, culture, and literature, and when the opportunity arose for me to study abroad, I instantly signed up. I want to become fluent in Japanese, and while I’m in Japan, study hard and practice enough to achieve N2 or N1 level on the JLPT. I also want to participate in Japanese culture, like attending a matsuri or doing sado. I’m very excited to be able to go to Japan, and extremely grateful for the opportunity to do so!
I have had such a wonderful stay in Japan, overflowing with incredible experiences. My time in Japan was not one single experience, but filled with many many different experiences, each like a gem to me. In a tiny livehouse in a basement in Ikebukuro I stood front row in the crowd of a punk concert and was befriended by a group of Japanese band girls, whom I still keep in contact with to this day. At Koya-san in Wakayama prefecture I talked with a Shingon-sect Esoteric Buddhist priest and he explained to me who and what Dainichi Nyorai is. I got lost while hiking on a mountain in the countryside of Ehime prefecture and had to follow old, weathered jizo statues back to civilization. In a bar in Yokohama I saw one of my favorite musicians, a veritable Japanese punk legend from the 1980s, do covers of David Bowie songs and afterwards got to talk and have drinks with him. I attended and even participated in a festival, carrying wooden boats filled with dolls, which were then set afloat into the ocean as part of a Shinto ritual. Each of these experiences and countless more have made up my time in Japan, and are precious treasures to me that I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
In terms of academics, my Japanese language ability has also improved tenfold. Towards the beginning of my time in Japan I bought a magazine, and then found I was unable to comprehend most of it and left it in a drawer in my room. Lately I was cleaning my room and took another look, and this time I was able to read almost all of it without problem. When I go to restaurants or bars, instead of people asking me "are you here on vacation?" I now get asked, "how long have you lived in Japan?" My classes are hard and I still struggle with kanji a lot, but compared to where I was just half a year ago when I first came to Japan, my progress has been incredible. I can talk for a whole day in only Japanese with no problem. Some days I don't speak English at all. I really feel proud of myself, and feel like I've accomplished so much in just a short time. Living in Japan has always been a dream for me, and I'm so happy my dream was realized. I can't wait to come back to Japan and live here again!
During my time studying abroad in Japan, I have accomplished so much. I studied hard and learned a lot, and was able to make lots of wonderful friends. I became a regular at several bars and shops, and made friends with lots of people through those places. Moreover, I was able to greatly improve my Japanese reading, writing, and speaking skills. I also got to experience Japanese culture, like participating in a matsuri and going to see rakugo.
I was also able to figure out my goals for the future. After I graduate college, I want to come back to live in Japan, perhaps as an English teacher or as something else. After that, I want to go to graduate school. I love living in Kansai so I’m definitely going to come back!