What better way to learn about Japanese language and culture than by being there yourself! The Fall semester Japanese Language & Culture program offers this opportunity, as Eastern Michigan University student Tiffany Spearman explains.
What is your name, and what is your major at EMU?
My name is Tiffany Spearman and I’m a Japanese Language & Culture Major at Eastern Michigan University!
Which JCMU program and year did you participate in?
I was at JCMU for the Fall 2015 semester!
How did you find out about this program while you were at EMU?
I first visited JCMU in 2011 during a two week homestay in Shiga when I was in high school, and I became interested in possibly studying there. When I came to EMU, I heard really good things from the JCMU alumni and I decided to choose it for my study abroad.
What motivated you to study abroad at JCMU? Was it the location, the classes, or something else?
I had a few options to choose from, but I ultimately decided on studying at JCMU because I heard that it was the place to go if you really wanted to improve your Japanese. Some of the other options that EMU offers for study abroad take place at universities where the students are studying English and try to only speak in English to you. I wanted a challenge, and JCMU provided that for me!
How were classes in Hikone compared to classes at EMU? Did you enjoy them?
The classes in Hikone were some of the most challenging and interesting classes that I’ve ever taken! I’ve never had difficulty receiving an A from a Japanese course until I came to JCMU. The language courses are much more intensive in both the material that is studied and the amount of homework that is given every day. I adored the challenge! The Model Japan course that I took was incredibly interesting because it was my first ever peek into the world of Japanese politics and current events. The classes were a blast!
What were some of your favorite things about your time at JCMU?
I have so many wonderful experiences from JCMU, but I would say that my top three were getting to travel on my own, the conversation partner program, and the weekend homestay program. When I finally traveled and explored Japan on my own when I took some breaks from studying, that was when I realized how proficient I had become in my Japanese abilities, and that made me feel really proud of myself! Through the conversation partner program and the weekend homestay I was able to make profound friendships with some of the locals near JCMU that I still talk to today. I can’t wait to return so I can see them again!
Did your experiences abroad help you when you returned to EMU? When you entered the workforce? How so?
I would say that my experience at JCMU has helped me in entering the workforce. I’m currently working as a private English language tutor for some Japanese families in Novi and I also work as an office assistant in a Saturday school for Japanese children in Detroit. If it wasn’t for JCMU, I wouldn’t be nearly as proficient in Japanese as I am needed to be for both of my jobs! I also wrote about my experience at JCMU on my application for the JET Program, and I’m anxious to see if that will help me get accepted!
What would you say to prospective students considering JCMU?
If you are looking for a chance to really improve your Japanese skills, I couldn’t recommend JCMU enough! It’s a challenge, but the experience of taking classes every day with people who are just as passionate about Japanese as you are is the best! You’re also provided many opportunities to interact with native Japanese speakers and build true friendships. If you’re unsure about whether or not JCMU is right for you, just go for it! You won’t regret it!
Many thanks to Tiffany for sharing her experiences with us! For more information about Tiffany’s program, please visit the Semester Language & Culture program page.