I’m Turning Japanese – Part I
Around November 2014, a lot of things started occurring to me. Job offers were floating around, graduation was looming, questions were smothering me… What was I going to do after college? Do I want to to get my masters right after graduation? Did I even want a masters degree (yes)? PhD (I don’t know)? Do I want to get a job immediately so I can pay off my school loan debt (yeah…)? Do I want to travel (I wish!)?
Thanks to some pleasant wiggle room in my schedule, I took a linguistics class my last semester at UTD. I have always been interested in languages and linguistics and was able to finally take a class that I wanted to take (and not because it was required!). This simple class changed everything for me. UTD does not have a linguistics department, so there are only a handful of linguistic classes you can take and they are not very comprehensive; they are more broad and introductory. Even so, I was thrilled!
Soon I realized just how interested I was in linguistics, and it made me think I should seriously consider incorporating it into my future academic and professional goals. Soon after I decided to incorporate linguistic theory into my senior capstone project during my final semester. You can read more about it here.
Meanwhile, I had been studying Japanese on my own since I was about 20 years old. I was always interested in the language, but never had a real reason to study it or incorporate it into my degree. Many excuses subdued me from pursuing Japanese seriously, until I finally realized how important language is.
Language is a personal expression of your identity as a human being and is the one thing that connects you to others. Communication is an essential part of living, and I realized that learning a language would lead to an entirely different world and culture, which would stay with me forever. The difficult thing is language is always changing. It’s often called a “living tool.” Language is not static; this is why we now use hashtags in casual conversations and why words like “selfie” are accepted into Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary.
But being able to experience another language, fully, is my dream. I am tired of knowing and understanding only one language (but thankfully it’s English, right? #privileged) when I am surrounded by hundreds of beautifully different cultures.
So, now what? I know what I want, but how do I realistically achieve it? I can’t just pack my bags and move to another country expecting to be able to live their legally and comfortably without some sort of plan. Enter The JET Program.