1. What is your year in college, major(s), and hometown?
I'm currently a senior from Delray Beach, FL, double majoring in International Affairs and Japanese. Originally French and Irish, I moved to the U.S. in sixth grade and have been here since.
2. What first made you want to study Japanese, and why did you choose FSU's program?
I always loved languages and words, but from when I was a child, I grew up with a big interest in Japanese pop culture and media, from animated shows, popular video games, to even archives of niche fashion magazines online. My interest only grew from there and eventually developed into wanting to learn Japanese. In high school, I had the opportunity to go on a one-week Sister Cities student exchange to Miyazu, Japan, which cemented my desire to pursue a formal study of the language and think of what sort of futures I could pursue. While I initially didn't know what my major would be, it was important to me that FSU had a Japanese program and study abroad opportunities.
3. What has been the most interesting or helpful Japanese class you've taken so far?
I've really enjoyed every Japanese cultural class I've taken so far from film, modern literature, to the history of tea. I think learning about socio-historical context is important when learning another language, especially when cultural essentialism, exotification, and xenophobia are entrenched in our lives. I also think any class outside of the main grammar classes are a great way to consolidate and use the various expressions covered that can get rusty over time. I'm personally looking forward to, and a bit nervous about, a Japanese speech class next semester. Overall, we have some excellent professors like Junko-sensei, Dr. Lee, and Dr. Mewhinney in our program, plus many hardworking TAs teaching their own classes. I certainly think there's something interesting and helpful to learn from each.
4. What extracurricular activities/research/experiences have you been involved with at FSU?
I've dabbled in various activities here and there. I've volunteered with PeaceJam Southeast as a mentor for middle and high school students, helped curate visual and written art submissions for the Pride Student Union's zine, managed a café event for an annual convention at FSU, called FreeCon, that involved choreography and costumes... It's a little all over the place!
I have also gotten to apply for some great opportunities working with the Office of National Fellowships and Global Exchanges on campus, like Fulbright or a semester abroad. I highly recommend reaching out and looking for relevant programs, scholarships, or research opportunities!
5. What are your ultimate academic/career goals?
I'm interested in pursuing a career in academia related to Japanese media studies. If I go down that path, the goal would be to go to grad school and eventually work on a PhD. I'm interested in various topics such as media, fashion, literature, and LGBT studies. I especially want to teach, even if not at a university level. Yet, who knows, maybe I'll end up as a video game translator if that's where life takes me! Whichever path I go down, as an instructor or even a translator, I hope to put my Japanese major and skills to good use.
6. What advice would you give to a new or prospective student in the Japanese program?
Join us! As a smaller program, there's a cozy and personal feel as you start to recognize familiar faces in a big university. I think it's quite nice as it allows for good opportunities to connect and work with your classmates and get to know them. I also recommend attending weekly Japanese Conversation Table to have a space to practice speaking, meet fellow Japanese students of various levels, and make mistakes!
If you ever feel worried or discouraged, remember that learning a language is difficult and everyone learns at a different pace, but most of all, let it be fun. It'll take a lot of time, effort, and consistency, but you're building the foundation for a whole new way of thinking and that's something so very worth recognizing. Learn songs, watch movies, and try communicating in Japanese--every word learnt is a tiny victory. Very frankly, I'm in my fourth year and it's a lesson I'm still learning to take to heart.