Sunday, July 29, 2012

I need a denshi jisho for my denshi jisho...

So much to cover, so little time! Make sure you read all the way to the last two paragraphs! They're the most important! My denshi jisho (an electronic dictionary) finally arrived a smidge over a week ago. There was a flurry of flying wrapping, much like on Christmas and I finally got to the amazing little device (which was in a box, inside a box, inside a bag, much like my sister wraps things) I was very excited to use it! I opened it up and realized instantly I was in for trouble.

There was menu that popped up with two or three options. Uh-oh.I didn't know enough kanji to read it and not wanting to take an hour to translate it I thumbed through the material for it. I should tell you at this point, the supplemental material is entirely in Japanese, as I should have expected buying it from Japan. Someone out there loves me though, because tucked away inside the manual was a short start up manual in English! I got through the setup and then realized, there were more kanji all over the keyboard that I had no clue what they did.

Casio Ex-Word XD-D9800GM Electronic Dictionary.

That didn't stop me from playing with it of course. I couldn't figure out the writing pad, though I did manage to find quick translate. My first day with the denshi jisho was exciting, but a little disappointing since I pretty much needed a denshi jisho to be able to figure out how to use my denshi jisho. No worries though, my awesome tomodachi Marie once again came to my aid and taught me how to use it!

It's very convenient in the fact that if I find a kanji I don't know, I can draw it and this little electronic dictionary will find it for me in seconds! This is a vast improvement over the paper dictionaries because it can take 5-20 minutes to find a kanji in a dictionary since they are nowhere near as easy to navigate as an English dictionary. I can also use this denshi jisho to search using the Japanese alphabet or I can flip over to the oxford dictionary and search from English to Japanese. There's also a English dictionary packed away in this device. Over all, it's EXACTLY what I needed for Japan!

It's so small too!
Overall, I could have really used this denshi jisho a few days sooner as I was finishing my Japan Women's University study abroad application this week. I wanted to make sure i understood the short "essay" questions so I translated the questions into English which took around an hour. If I'd have had my denshi jisho, or rather if I'd known how it worked sooner it would have cut that time down significantly. All things said and done everything turned out okay thanks once again to the aid of awesome tomodachi Marie. She helped me edit two of my essays and really really helped me write one of the essays. I don't know what I'd do without my friends!

Essays being done and after much checking and double checking that I had all the materials, I finally turned in my application Wednesday afternoon! It was very nerve racking, not because it was difficult to turn in, but because essentially I've reached the point of no return. With the application submitted, the University of Oregon will be sending it to JWU and I will have my final acceptance letter sometime in November.

A card my awesome tomodachi Ayumi sent along with my denshi jisho!

The next very exciting news I have for all of you is that I have partnered with Forever Photography as a sponsor! She is a fantastic local photographer and she will be donating 50% of all proceeds from photography shoots until I leave for Japan in January of 2013. That said, more information to come soon on how to take advantage of this and get some amazing photography while sponsoring my trip! My next post will be dedicated to showing you this fantastic woman's work as well as how you can get ahold of her and schedule an appointment.

On the subject of sponsorships, if you or anyone you know is interested in contributing to my study abroad experience please send me an e-mail and I can get information to you, or them. You can also use the forms and links provided under the donate section in the menu to donate! As always, thanks for reading and you'll hear from me soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The hardest things so far

I'm so close to finishing my application! Unfortunately I'm still stuck on the hardest part. The short essays. It's not that they're particularly difficult essays, but answering about myself is always difficult. When they ask questions like "Why are you applying for this program" and you have to answer in Japanese it makes it that much more difficult.

I'm at the point where I need to just sit down, breathe and work through it. Procrastinating won't make it any better and let's face it. The application is due next week, so it's time to buck up and sally forth. I don't really have any advice for everyone on writing your essays for this part, I've always had trouble writing anything about myself when it comes to things like applications. Who knows what to say? Anyways, my four short essay questions are:

  1. Why are you applying for this program? (Japanese)
  2. Write about your studies at your home college, subjects you wish to study at JWU and your interests (educational, cultural, social and other) in Japan. Please state about your career goal in the future (if possible). (English)
  3.  Simple self introduction (personality, what I like about Japan, major, etc.) (Japanese - for the Tutor assignment form)
  4.  Interests (hobbies, special skills, etc.) (Japanese - for the Tutor assignment form)

You'd think numbers 3 and 4 would be easy, but  they're coming up just as difficult. Especially the personality part. We learned in Japanese 203 that when you're talking about your personality you can't just come out and say "I'm a kind person." That's too direct and it sounds like you're bragging about yourself so instead you have to say things like "I like to help people" or "I like to volunteer" or "my friends say I am a nice person." It's a little difficult when you're used to just straight up saying what you think you are like.

Another one of the mental hurdles for me right now is the fact of writing them in Japanese. If I were to write them in English I would know the proper format for things immediately. Not that it's much different in Japanese, I just worry about saying the wrong thing or coming across as rude or too direct. Thankfully I have my awesome tomodachi Marie (you remember her?) who is going to help me edit them once I write the drafts. That helps, but it's still intensely nerve wracking.

The other thing I want to talk about is the fact that I'm roughly 6 months away from leaving on my trip. Six months? Yeah. I said it. And the worst part about that? The worries are starting to majorly set in. For some reason I am suddenly very worried about the program and all kinds of concerns are popping up. I've had a few "That's it! I'm not going to Japan!" moments, but I think that is normal for anyone about to leave for a foreign country. Especially one with a language so much different than your own when you don't have a safety net. It's pushing me outside my comfort zone, which is a good thing, but it doesn't help the butterflies.

What does help the butterflies is having a wonderful support group pushing you to remember why you made this seemingly crazy decision in the first place. Every time I start doubting myself my friends, family and fiance are there to shoo the butterflies and help set my head on straight again. After all, if I gave up this opportunity I would never forgive myself.

So if you're getting close to your own program it's good to keep in mind that being afraid of leaving is probably pretty sane. Everyone has the up and down roller coaster of emotions, especially if it's the first time you're really leaving home for the first time. I remember balling for days when I moved two hours away from my family, but this is a whole other ball park. Fear, anxiety and doubts are all part of the process, but don't let it stop you! Look to your friends and family for support and keep pushing ahead! You can do it!!

Here's a little shout out to my awesome support group. There's a few of you not in the picture, but you know who you are!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Final(ish) step - Japan Women's University Exchange Student Application

So I'm not sure if I've made this clear before, but there is a three part process to being accepted into the Japan Women's University's study abroad program. The first step was the application applying for the program. This application was for the university, kind of like a screening process to make sure you're eligible, yadda, yadda all the red tape stuff. (The Japan Applicaiton) . The second step was the interview, Study Abroad Interview Jitters and Relief. And now I'm onto the third step. The application for Japan Women's University itself.

I picked the packet up on Monday and I was really nervous.  Honestly I didn't know if I could fill out an entire application if it was all in Japanese. Looking up a single kanji can take forever, let alone looking up tons of them and my denshi jisho hasn't arrived yet. So I was very relieved to open the packet and find this front page.

The application is in both English and Japanese and most of the instructions are to write in English. That was a relief. The entire study abroad application for Japan Women's (this one will be going to JWU, not the UO) is 8 pages long (Pictures at the end), 7 if you don't count an information page. It consists of a two page information page for JWU. Then there is a three page packet that is a visa application. After that another form for my doctor to say that I am healthy and tell them that I have bad eyesight. The last two pages are for tutoring, one is information about the tutoring program including the fact that my tutor will pick me up at the airport when I arrive, not my host family. This kind of surprised me. I have hosted students from Japan in the past and I have always either picked them up from the airport or helped arrange for them to take a cab or shuttle from Portland to Eugene and then met them. The second page of the tutoring section is entirely in Japanese. So I enlisted another awesome 友達 (tomodachi), Marie!

There are a few bits that I have to do in Japanese, essays and the tutoring page mostly. For the JWU application the short essays are (in Japanese) what are my reasons for applying to Japan Women's University. And the second (in English) asks about what I have and will study, what I plan to do career wise and what my interests in Japan are. That's a lot of information to write in that little space. I will be working out these essays (along with the others) this coming week with the help of all my previously mentioned awesome friends!

The tutoring form is entirely in Japanese as I have already said. So I asked Marie to help me read it during our language exchange time. I was able to very quickly fill out and understand the essay questions thanks to her. Off the top of my head I think they were a self introduction and asking for interests and hobbies (both academic and non-academic). Other than that is asks for contact information, if you would like a tutor and if you would like to introduce your culture while in Japan. Marie and I joked about that for a minute (the only thing I could think of was giant hamburgers) and eventually I circled わからない, or I don't know!

Overall it's not as painful as I thought it would be. So this paperwork is due by the 27th of the month and I received it on Monday. So I have just less than 3 weeks to finish it, though hopefully it will be done by the end of the week.

Also, last bit, some very exciting news before you can take a look at all the forms, sometime soon we'll be featuring a guest blogger from the blog Onaji Sora. Our guest, Camille has finished a study abroad program at Tsuru University in Japan and is preparing to return to Japan again, this time through the JET program, in August.

Forms in the order I listed them.(Sorry about the odd layout. Blogger is being picky.)