How long have you studied Japanese?
I have studied Japanese for about eight years. I started studying freshman year of high school and have continued throughout college.
Are you fluent in Japanese?
I define fluency as being able to enter into almost any situation and being confident that I will be understood and that I will be able to understand others. Even if I do not understand everything perfectly, I should have the ability to guess with context clues or convey something in a slightly easier way like a bilingual/native speaker would. Based on this, I would not say that I am fluent, but that I am an intermediate-advanced/basic business level Japanese speaker, reader, and writer. I can survive in Japan but I wouldn’t say that I can thrive in Japan just yet.
How did you/do you study Japanese?
Throughout high school, I have used the Genki textbooks and the Basic Kanji Books. They are not terribly expensive, but you can find PDF files of them online. Other than that, I guess I just listened to Japanese music, watched Japanese movies, and was fortunate enough to be able to visit Japan many times (although not for extended periods of time). High school Japanese consisted of one hour class five times a week. In college, I’ve used various textbooks that teach content rather than specific grammar patterns. Class is three times a week for one hour. As I am pretty busy with my other studies, I unfortunately do not have much time for self-study. I mostly practice Japanese (if at all) via the language table once a week with other native speakers at my college and through my internship/study abroad/other travel to Japan. Currently I use HelloTalk, a language exchange app, to practice speaking and writing in Japanese.
Have you taken the JLPT? What level?
No, I have not taken the JLPT. I probably should, but I have not had the time or the will to do it. I am a horrible test taker and feel like I would not do too well, but if I were to take it I would probably take N2.
Do you want to work in Japan someday after graduation?
Part of me wants to work in Japan because there are so many great things about living in Japan versus America, however knowing my own self and my mental health, I am not confident that I would be able to fully work in Japan just yet. Maybe I will work there in 5+ years, but who knows!
How do I get an internship in Japan?
Maybe I will write a blog post on just this topic in the future. Feel free to email me about specific questions.
Why do you travel to Japan so much? Are you rich?
I am fortunate to be able to travel to Japan so much because my grandma is a travel agent. My family is middle-class and has been very blessed financially, but can in no way afford the way I travel; all of my travels is because of my grandma and her hard work. I was able to study abroad and intern in Japan because I received financial aid and grants from my school. I also worked throughout high school and have a few jobs in college that greatly allow me to have some extra spending money when I travel.
What ethnicity are you?
I am Chinese-American and was adopted from China when I was a baby. My mom is Japanese-American and my dad is Chinese-American. My parents are not immigrants and we only speak English at home. I actually took a DNA test that told me exactly what my ethnic breakdown is!