It’s funny looking back because I used to tell people I was just studying Japanese for fun, that I wanted to study abroad in Japan so I might as well take a few classes in the language before I go. I didn’t know any Japanese going into the program, and, in fact, I had already completed my language requirement with Spanish. But after a few weeks in Japanese 101 I knew that I wanted to make it my major, I fell in love with the culture, the writing, the art, and the language. Now I’m a graduate who has studied in Osaka and is reading, writing, and speaking Japanese at the 400 level. And I swear I wasn’t paid by the school to say anything about the teachers, but I will say that they are infectiously passionate about what they teach, and it’s all thanks to them.
On top of that, I think the students here are very passionate as well. Given the language’s difficulty, I wouldn’t say learning Japanese is an endeavor most students just take on willy-nilly. As a result, when I think back on my time in class, I think of a tight-knit community of academics who all care deeply about what they’re studying. As an added bonus, most of us have studied abroad together and have plenty of inside jokes and shared experiences that have accumulated over the years since we were freshmen.
My advice for anyone who is considering studying Japanese at Lewis and Clark, even if they have no prior experience, is that the community, the adventure, and the quality of education you will find here makes it all worth it.