Pre-departure; What are your goals for your international experience?
I have not done any particular research about the country I am studying abroad in. The reason for this is that I’m learning Japanese, which means you learn some things about the country automatically, and during my Senior year of high school, I was accepted to go to Japan with seven other students from my school and another nearby school for two weeks.
I have always been told that the fastest way to get better at using a language is to go to the country of origin, and use the language there during your stay. In order to create a stronger foundation for my ability to use the Japanese language, I will be going to Japan for a study abroad program.
I think an accelerated course in Japanese would be fun—especially since I would be able to focus all of my efforts directly on learning the language. When researching multiple programs, I learned that every program had a different time frame for when summer starts and ends, which made it a challenge to find one that didn’t overlap with my colleges fall or spring quarters.
During that time, I had only taken some classes online and there was not a lot of opportunities to talk to very many Japanese speakers because it was a history of Japan focus study program—I was the only student on the program that had any Japanese language knowledge at all.
KCP also has 6 language level classes, that have transfer equivalencies toward certain classes at my college for my Japanese major. This means that when I take their placement test if I get into level 4 and I pass the class, I can skip Japanese 300 and 301 at Western Washington University, and instead just start in 303, allowing me to take more classes in their place and to complete my majors and minors faster.
I was lucky to find the KCP summer program which starts on July 6th this coming summer and ends on September 20th. This works perfectly for my schedule because Western Washington Universities’ summer starts in June, and Fall Quarter starts on September 26th.
An interesting thing about this program is that their classes are also located in Shinjuku while their dorms are located in Ikebukuro. This means that every day I would have to take the half an hour commute on the subway system to get to the school from the dorms or take the roughly one hour and a half walk. This will encourage students like me to explore more of Japan, rather than just the area around their school.
What are you most excited about? What are you most scared or nervous about?
I am most nervous about the fact that the KCP program has a placement test that you have to take so I might not be able to place high enough on the test for me to place into Level 4 or 5.
I am most excited about going to the movies—so far, I know about four different movies I want to go to if it’s not too out of the way. When I went to Japan abut 2 years ago, I got to see Meitantei Conan: Junkoku no Naitomea in theaters and It was awesome.
What strategies have you implemented that will allow you to overcome these challenges and take full advantage of your opportunities?
I’m planning on only studying Japanese during my plane ride. All my books are either workbooks or other similar study material, and the only games I am bringing with me are GBA games from the Hamtaro series in Japanese.
These games are extremely easy to play—they have no kanji—and I have played all of them before in English when I was younger, though I have never once beaten any of them.
Two of the games are about a hamster who is trying to be hip and cool by using slang words (called Ham-go standing for Hamster Language) to communicate with the other hamsters. We the player can only communicate with the words and all of the words cause our character to move in a way to complement the meaning. For example, “Kunkakunka” (from the Japanese word “kunkun”) means sniff, and it’s used to either make our hamster sneeze, make a comment on how another hamster smells, or to pick up objects in the area.
The games all have a little hamster dictionary in them, where they list the slang word with the original version next to it.
The above is “shinpaisuru” which means to worry, and its slang version is “shinpain” but with “pain” written in Katakana, meaning its based off of a loanword, A Katakana “pain” is either a pineapple or a pine tree in Japanese.
Considering the fact the hamsters are wearing a pineapple outfit, I think they are referring to the pineapple.