Lim Kang Ni
SIM Global Education/University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
While taking Japanese 101, our sensei introduced us to the Waseda language and culture exchange program. I was very excited. I have always wanted to talk to a Japanese person and improve my Japanese. We then listed our contact information, our language levels and what we were interested in on the excel sheet sensei has provided for us. Thereafter, we waited. When we first received our email from the organizer at Waseda University with the contact information of our partner, I was so excited that I immediately emailed her. This happened at the end of one Japanese language class for that day so, the classroom was bustling with activity.
After a few days, my partner, Kohata-san, replied to me. We first started talking about our hobbies and what we liked through email and really hit it off. We both share many things in common such as our love for cats, the arts and the same manga we read. Although, I have to admit that my love for cats and mangas don’t seem to be as much as hers. She showed me her collection of Nyanko Sensei merchandise from Natsume Yuujinchou. I told her I love Mitchiri Neko. I was later informed it was not famous in Japan. (@[email protected]) It was rather surprising to me that such a cutie game did not explode in Japan. We then agreed on our first Zoom meeting date. During our first meeting, it was rather awkward. We talked about what we had done for the week and I could only say I didn’t do anything. Due to COVID, we were all stuck at home and all my international friends had all gone back to their home countries. It was also due to my lack of vocabulary and grammar knowledge. She then showed me her manga collection along with a thick manga magazine which has a collection of many chapters of different mangas from the same publishing company. I never knew that such a book existed. The meeting lasted for an hour. After our first meeting, we decided to alternate each meeting with a different language. If one meeting was in English, then the next one would be in Japanese. We decided to meet weekly and we did. Then, her winter semester came, and she became soo busy that we ended up not meeting for a month. When I finally emailed her again, she told me that her winter semester was finally ending and she only had one project left. I was quite shocked that winter semester was this long. Since Singapore doesn’t have winter, we do not have winter semester. It made me curious if studying in a Japanese university is that difficult or time consuming. My partner’s English is soo good that I am tempted to just talk to her in English every time. ><
Overall, it is a very fun experience. I also did learn something from my partner. The sushi typing website she introduced to me was superb. I tried very hard and finally managed to win the game (in easy mode). やった！
Image by K.L.