I live, I learn, I travel, I write.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why I'm in Japan (the technical reasons)

I have been really bad about regularly writing in this blog. I haven't had much to talk about, though. I haven't done much of anything yet, which isn't necessarily a bad thing... I just haven't gotten around to it. But I wanted to update with something.

I logged onto Blogger today and checked my Dashboard, and I have my first follower who isn't someone I know in real life! I'm sure there are other people who might be wondering what it is exactly that I'm doing here, since I haven't really explained that yet.

So, I'm in Japan. I'm going to school. I'm having the time of my life while going to school in Japan. My school is called the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (alternatively, JCMU, ミシガン州立大学連合日本センター, or 日本ミシガンセンター), and what it is is a consortium institution in Hikone, Shiga, operated by Michigan State University. Most of the students that go to JCMU are from other colleges and universities in Michigan, with a few others who randomly find the program and decide to come.

Although other programs are offered, like Environmental Sciences and Hospitality & Tourism Management, the main draw at this school is the intensive language program.. which is why I came here. In the intensive program, students learn one academic year of Japanese language in one semester (or, in my case, 9 weeks). I tested into the second level, and am learning all of the Genki II textbook (again). I've already taken this class at Grand Valley before, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't any different. The class is conducted ENTIRELY in Japanese--no English is used, unless it's one word for unknown vocabulary. Additionally, the students are required to speak only in Japanese, which has proved to be a little difficult sometimes.

For me, speaking is the hardest part about learning and using Japanese. I met with my sensei last week and explained to her my frustrations with speaking, and she told me that I just need to practice more and more and eventually it will come more easily. She did, however, tell me that my vocabulary, kanji, and grammar knowledge was very good... so that made me feel a bit better.

To further explain the intensity of the program here, I'll share with you the schedule for this coming week in class.

Each day, and each hour of class, we do different things. In this particular week, we are covering the remainder of Lesson 17 (which we started last Thursday), all of Lesson 18, and the beginning of Lesson 19 on Friday. In doing this, we will also cover all of the relevant readings, workbook assignments, and supplemental materials that any of my teachers may assign.

Oh! I have three teachers (sensei). My primary sensei is Yoshida sensei, who is VERY nice and does a nice job at creating a comfortable yet challenging atmosphere in the classroom. I also have Aizawa sensei (also the language program director) Monday-Thursday, and he's just a really cool guy. His teaching style is very fast-paced, but it's not too overwhelming--it just makes you pay attention and keep focus. I also have Nakamitsu sensei on Monday and Wednesday-Friday, who is also very nice. She and Yoshida sensei have a similar teaching style.

As you might have seen in the pictures of my schedule, I have four hours of class on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and three hours on Tuesday and Friday. Sometimes it seems like it's dragging on forever, but usually it goes by pretty quickly.

So yeah, that's the academic life. Sorry if this was a bit choppy. I wrote it in different sessions.