Wednesday, September 9, 2015

And, I'm Off to Japan! (Sasha)

As I set off on this journey, I am excited to see Japan in a new perspective. I went to Tajimi in Gifu prefecture ten years ago, but that was before I knew anything of the language or the culture. When told to say “ohayƍ” to someone, I wondered why I was saying the name of a state.
The eleven-year-old-me.
In addition to studying at Akita International University (AIU), I will have the chance to return to Tajimi and stay with a friend for a week. I am anticipating that this visit will be much different from my last. I know more of the language and culture, and my 11 year old self was not quite as willing to try new things. Now, I’m here to learn and explore, and I am ready to give it all I’ve got. Just in general, I am looking forward to experiencing Japanese culture first-hand. We have already planned a trip to Gero onsen.

One of my concerns is that I am usually pretty reserved and not one to initiate a conversation; however, I am determined to push myself socially. Studying at AIU will be a chance for me to meet new people from all over the world, not just from Japan. I want to take advantage of the opportunities given. That being said though, I am worried about my Japanese level. I will be traveling alone for some of my journey, and my speaking skills are shaky at times. Since I look Asian, I am worried that the Japanese people will not pull any punches and will assume that I am able to understand their normal/too-fast-for-me speaking pace. I also have to acknowledge that this will be to my advantage as well because it will give me more opportunities to use my Japanese skills. At AIU, I will also have to find a balance between speaking English and speaking Japanese. I’m worried it will be all too easy to slip back into English.
I saw Tokyo Skytree from the train en route to Otsuki.
I am only going to be in Japan for a semester, so I’ve got to make the most of my time and immerse myself in the culture while I’m here.

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