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!


Malia said...

Hello Illaura! Congratulations on starting this journey. I will still be here come January so maybe if you want to see other parts of Japan during your study you can come down to Nagoya and use it as a jumping off point for other cities: Kyoto and Nara, very interesting places.


Illaura said...

Thanks Malia! I'm not sure if I'll have time to travel right at the start of my program, but if you're still there when I do get some time I'll take you up on that! I want to see everything!!!! XD

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