Hi everyone! In this blog post I will continue to write about the real Japanese cultural experience – my everyday life as a student at a Japanese language school! My study abroad program has actually already ended, so this and the previous blog post are also a kind of reflection on my time as a student in Japan.
There were many opportunities in class to speak in Japanese. We didn’t have set seating arrangements, rather we were encouraged to change seats every day. So, when we were put in pairs for speaking exercises, I got to speak to most of my classmates and got to know a little bit about each of them. Even in the same level, there were people with varying degrees of speaking skills. Many people are embarrassed to speak in a language they are not yet very fluent in, so speaking tends to take the back seat, thus resulting in poor speaking skills. But at KCP, we were forced to work on the skills we were weak in constantly, especially speaking.
At KCP, instructors focus on four elements: Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing. Each of these skills are fundamental to having a good grasp of the Japanese language, or any language for that matter. Our instructors taught us to balance these four elements. Using statistics from tests and homework grades from a KCP student, teachers can tell which areas the student needs to improve in. These statistics can also be used to compare different classes of the same skill level. I find this absolutely amazing. So much thought and effort were put into our curriculum! Every single detail is important. (This pretty much sums up the Japanese way of life…)
In addition to regular class time, we also had various review and supplemental sessions, some of which were mandatory. I went to many of these sessions and found them to be extremely beneficial. Really, KCP thinks of everything a student might need to get them to their final destination – success in Japanese and beyond. For example, the week before the end of the program, we had two mandatory review sessions for the final exam.
Then, the final day of the program, the day of truth and the sum of all of our efforts, arrived: Also known as Final Exam Day. We had a 50min essay writing test, a 20min listening test, a 50min grammar and reading comprehension test, and finally, a 20min kanji test. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention that we also had final speaking tests a few days prior: a 5min speaking skit (done in pairs) and a 15min speaking interview, which was done one-on-one with a teacher. The testing period was a bit of a nightmare, but I think that all-in-all I did pretty well. I felt so relieved when it was over that I kept smiling like an idiot.
After the final exams were over, I attended the closing ceremony for the US program students, where I received a fancy certificate of completion from KCP. Each student got to say a few words in Japanese at the podium, and it was a real tear-jerking experience for many. Personally, for me it didn’t really seem real. Just two months prior I had stepped onto KCP’s doorstep and now I’m already leaving?! Well, I plan on coming back anyway, so although my goodbyes were heartfelt, they didn’t feel like true goodbyes. I hope to come to back to Japan to study abroad for an academic year. If possible, I’d like to come back to KCP, but even if I end up going to a different place, I will always remember my time at KCP fondly and I can always go there to visit them and say hello!
Really, I must say that my time at KCP was awesome. The instructors and staff at KCP are just amazing. They answered my million-and-one questions and whenever I had a problem they tried their best to solve it. When I got a cold they even took me to the doctor!!! I really have so much admiration and respect for them. If you’re thinking of studying abroad in Japan, I couldn’t recommend KCP highly enough.
With that in mind, mina-san, sayonara! Goodbye! This is technically my last official blog post. (Keep on the lookout for a bonus blog post about my visit to Chiune Sugihara’s Grave). It’s been so much fun writing these! (Though they were kind of on the long side and not delivered in a timely manner to you; Gomenne!) I hope that you enjoyed reading them and that they were helpful to you in some way. To those of you thinking of studying abroad, good luck!!! Ganbatte kudasai! Please continue trying your best to achieve your dreams. Remember that the sky is the limit. And if I can do it – you can do it too!
P.S. – This is the real Japanese experience: hearing this sound when the bell rings. For those of you who have watched school-life slice-of-life anime, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
P.P.S. – Here are another few funny facts about my school:
Separating garbage at school is even harsher than the rest of Japan; no drinking or eating in class is allowed (except for the summer – only water is allowed); no chewing gum on school premises; your student ID must be on your desk during final exam day; smoking is ALLOWED in the smoking area (who would’ve thunk it?! I hate cigarette smoke so I’ve always steered clear of that area…); eraser shavings are cleaned from everyone’s desks at the end of the day by the unlucky student appointed by the teacher for this silly chore.
Kind of strange, ne? Now this is the REAL Japanese experience!!!