Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Blurb...

UPDATE: Sorry for any inconveniences, I've been updating the website's look! Should be done soon!

Hey everyone! Just a quick blurb from me today (like really, really quick!). Wanted to give you and update and let you know that my interview is officially complete! Huzzah!

Unfortunately, I can't give you the details now or even tonight since I have a test tomorrow. However, I will do my best to tell you about the experience and a little bit of advice from my teachers and I.

Have a great rest of your Wednesday!!!

Oregon Hall - houses many offices for the UO including the Study Abroad people!
Image from the UO Website.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Japan Application

My study abroad application process is almost complete!

Way back in September I completed the first step toward studying abroad. Passport, you really can't leave the country without it. Note for those of you about to apply for it for the first time, keep in mind that your birth certificate will be mailed along with your application to be verified that you are who you say you are.  I panicked until it was explained to me. So anyways, I applied back in September and around November my shiny new passport arrived in the mail. It looked a little something like this

Passport in hand, I had to wait until the application opened up in April of this year to begin the application. The application for any study abroad program can open up anywhere between 6 months to a year before you would actually leave, so if you're considering study abroad look early! Back on topic again, so once the application opened up I had a lot of "Do you agree to this" and "Do you agree to that" type of forms to read and sign. Then transcripts from each college had to be submitted before I moved onto the hard part.

What was the hard part? Recommendations and the essays. For the recommendations I asked two very wonderful professors of mine, Reiko Hashimoto and Alisa Freedman to complete the two required recommendations. Recommendations always make me nervous because I don't get to read them, but I've since I've had both professors several times and I've taken a little time out to try and get to know them and meet with them outside of class I wasn't as nervous. It really does help to get to know your professors before asking for recommendations since they end up looking better for any type of application.

As for the essays, there were two shot answer (but no minimum requirement which made me nervous) essay questions. And though they seemed easy, they actually took a couple of days each to write. I always find it very difficult to answer questions about myself, especially when anything is riding on them. My questions were:
  1. Background and Preparation
    Please write a brief statement that highlights the aspects of your personal, family and academic history that have influenced your decision to study abroad at this time, and how they have prepared you for the upcoming experience.
  2. Goals and Outcomes
    What do you hope to gain from this overseas experience, and what steps will you take to ensure that you get the most out of your time abroad? How will this upcoming experience assist you in achieving your short- and long-term academic and personal goals?
I won't tell you what my answers were now (hey, we've got 8 months until I go to Japan, I need something to write until then), but they were probably two of the toughest things I've ever had to write. 

The last step to the application is the interview. Dun-dun-duuuh! I can't tell you much about this step so far, but my interview for acceptance into the program is on May 30th! I have a list of questions and topics I was told to prepare for, but I'm fairly certain it won't be so easy as answer the question we already asked you. 

So yeah, that's it for today. I'll update you on the interview step next week and get around to giving you some more of the basic info! 

Bonus pictures for you! Here's a Sailor Jupiter cosplay I made for Kumoricon a couple of years back, at the time I knew I wanted to go to Japan, but hadn't decided to major in Japanese or study abroad!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The story thus far...

If you are here you've either stumbled across this blog by accident or you are here because I have requested your assistance in financing my study abroad trip (more on that in a later post). Either way, since I have you here I thought I would give you some background on myself  and my interest in studying abroad in Japan.

A long (but not so long) time ago...

Around third grade I started watching a television show known as Sailor Moon. I didn't think anything of it at the time, didn't know it's origins or that it would open the gateway to a completely different culture for me, but that's exactly what it did.

By the time I was in high school I was no longer just a fan of Sailor Moon, but a whole host of other Japanese anime shows. Those shows led me to ask and search for the answers to many questions such as "What does that name mean?" and "What festival?" Little by little I was gaining knowledge about Japanese culture. Around the same time I took an interest in learning the language and bought a whole score of language books and CD's. Of course I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time.

Image from Kanagawa Notebook

Not so long ago...

After graduating high school, inspired by anime and video games I moved to Portland to attend The Art Institute of Portland majoring in video game design. While I loved the school and the program I quickly discovered that tuition was much too high and returned home quickly.

Eventually I made my way over to the University of Oregon and, following my love of Japan, began my major in Japanese language. At the time I had no idea what I wanted to do with my major and had no hopes for studying abroad. After all, what can you do with a degree in Japanese? I asked myself. Study abroad is for the rich kids. Or so I thought.

About the same time I began attending the UO some very big changes hit my family. One big change to be exact. My youngest sister joined our family. Like my interest in Sailor Moon as a child I had no clue what this would mean for me. And just like being a fan of Sailor Moon in my childhood led to my interest in Japan she helped me find my path just a year after she was born.

Thanks to my sister...

It is because of my sister that, for my Japanese Chidren's Culture class I decided to create a website. And not just any website, a website that is dedicated to teaching Japanese to children from non-Japanese speaking families. After hours and hours creating code, lessons and printouts I presented my website, Kids Japanese, as my final project.

Somewhere along the lines, whether it was during the meticulous debugging or drawing cute pictures, I fell in love with teaching Japanese for children. Since then I've spent many hours creating worksheets and working to teach my sister Japanese through songs and repetition.

Yujin Gakuen

I have also been a volunteer at  Yujin Gakuen(友人学園), Eugene's Japanese Immersion elementary school. I volunteer with the fourth grade class and, though I mostly help with math homework, I have been able to use some of my website's materials to help teach Japanese.

I have also had the wonderful opportunity to give a presentation on college, college level Japanese and study abroad at North Eugene High School. Prior to this I was able to see Japanese being taught in a high school setting.

Because of my sister and the various opportunities I've had while in school and volunteering I have decided that I want to become a teacher. It won't surprise you at this point to learn that I want to be an elementary school Japanese teacher. (Though I wouldn't be closed to the possibility of higher levels or teaching English in Japan)

Where I'm going with all of this...

I've always wanted to go to Japan and seeing college as possibly being my only chance to go and study there, I started looking into study abroad programs.  I was amazed that the programs  did not cost nearly as much as I had thought. In fact, some of them were nearly the same cost as attending the UO for a full year. My financial aid would almost completely cover the expenses!  

After researching my available options, discussing it with my professors and a meeting with the study abroad coordinator I made a decision. The school I would apply for, Japan Women's University (JWU) in Tokyo. Unlike other universities which sometimes accept hundreds, if not thousands, of international students, JWU accepts only a small number of international students. How many? Less than 5 people from the UO are allowed to attend each year.

What's next?

At the beginning of May I completed the application for study abroad at JWU. The application included short essays and two letters of recommendation including one from my Japanese language professor. The final step to completing that application is on May 30th  when I will complete the interview process for JWU. This summer I will complete the 300 level Japanese course in preparation for study abroad as well as file the admission forms for Japan Women's University itself.

In the next month I will let you know how the interview went and what the status of my study abroad application is. I will also tell you more about the program I am applying for as well as how you can help!

Anything you would like to know? Please e-mail me or leave a comment!

Until next time!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Honorary First Post

First, let me welcome you by saying it's going to be a bumpy ride. As this is my first blog (and there appears to be a learning curve for the site), we might have a few bumps and hiccups along the way.

Next order of business.

As of today I am not in Japan (yet!). It is important that you know my trip will begin in January of 2013 and last until December 2013. That said, please sit back and relax while I figure out the site and come up with material for you from time to time. Once I have arrived in Japan I plan on updating monthly, if not more often. You'll want to stick around until then (because everything before that will be like the boring previews leading up to the epic movie).

Thanks for stopping by, I promise my next post will be much better.

P.S. - If you're wondering what the title of this blog is in reference to it is a story written by Natsume Soseki called "I am a Cat". It is a story about a cat, written by the cat. But I am not a cat. Just making sure you know.