April 29, 2017

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Childhood Dream Made Reality

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By Ana Nicole Vigueras LaRochelle

My name is Ana Nicole Vigueras and I am an American student studying at an Temple University Japan Campus. It is an American university based Philidelphia but with a branch campus in Azabu-Juban, Tokyo where I study every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On days when I am not studying, I am doing something related to music, my internship “Live ‘n Tokyo”, exercising, or thinking about studying Japanese but not actually doing it.

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Since I was twelve years old, I have loved watching anime and reading or drawing manga. I even wanted to be a mangaka when I was a freshman in highschool and I took all the art classes I could. That changed when I took an exchange trip to Nichinan, Miyazaki where I stayed with a homestay. We then travelled to Kyoto and finally Tokyo. When I was on the plane back to the United States, I cried because I wanted to stay in Japan for much longer. I was depressed for two weeks after I returned home to the United States, because I realized I wanted to live in Japan for an extended period of time. When I had to choose where to go to college, nothing in the United States intrigued me. So I asked my parents if I could apply to the international campus of Temple University, and since they are internationally minded, they agreed.
So September 2015 I boarded a plane to Tokyo where I would stay at an international share house, study Japanese in a language school, then attend my first year at Temple.

In my university, I am currently en route towards receiving an Asian Studies degree, which is in so many words, anthropology. I have Japanese and foreigner professors who are all fluent in English. My classes are in English, which means I can absorb everything but it’s taking longer for me to learn Japanese. I actually love my classes because it mitigates what I learn outside of school. For example, if I ask a question to my Japanese friends I receive the “Japanese” answer. If I ask my foreigner friends a question I receive the “outside” answer. When I go to class, to a certain degree, the answer is neutral because it is backed by research from experts. I can gauge Japan with a cultural relativist view (sorry nerdy nerdy nerdy…)

So far, I have truly loved living in Japan. I am so comfortable here. I have been in Japan for about a year now. Japan is a puzzle and I am happy when I can learn even a small thing about Japan, about Japanese people or culture. However, do not underestimate how different Japanese people think from Westerners. I definitely underestimated how different our cultures are. The mindset behind the whole country is almost opposite to the United States, for example, so be careful how you treat others. But Japan has treated me well and given me so many cool experiences so I am happy to have experienced it for a long period of time and at a young age.

Other than Japan, I mentioned that I am interested in music. I love music and I am a singer. I have been in choirs or singing groups since I was eight years old. In Japan I sang at open mics and Jazz clubs as well as the Tokyo Embassy Choir. I like to make music with my friends who are able to play instruments such as guitar. If I didn’t have an interest in Japan, I would probably dedicate all my time to making music.

In Japan I hope that I can continue on an upward path towards learning more about Japanese culture but I also want to possibly take a break from university and go back to a language school. In the future I want to try working in Japan but I think I will travel to other countries before that happens. There’s a lot more I can learn about Japan and I want to share my experiences through blogs and videos that I make with my friends.

Thanks for reading.

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