The Summer of 2012 I embarked on a study abroad journey to Hikone, Japan. Hikone is home to the historic Hikone castle and known for it's close proximity to the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa. The Japanese language school I attended is called JCMU (Japan Center for Michigan Universities). It is right on the edge of the lake and provides many beaches and opportunities for chatting with the locals. Most of us stayed in the dorms connected to the main building. We woke up 5 days a week at 8 am and by 9am were in our classrooms learning Japanese straight until 3 pm. On Fridays we got to stop at 1 pm and enjoy a cultural activity. I tested into the fourth and highest level with two other students. I was in this level for three weeks before deciding to drop down to the third level because of the lack of sleep and stress level. That was a good decision because instead of constantly studying my textbooks I could leave and explore Hikone, using my language skills in real interactions. My language learning belief is that negotiating for meaning in authentic communication is essential for fluency. I don't often have this chance in Columbia, Missouri because there are hardly any Japanese international students. It is particularly difficult to find them. Wow we sure did have a lot of presentations to give during my time at JCMU. I found that I have always underestimated my ability to perform in a target language. I learned my second language learning belief during this time, "Don't underestimate yourself, you are always capable of more." This has become so engrained in my mind that when I came back to the U.S and started working out at the gym again I ran harder and longer than I ever had before. A lot of our perceived limitations are simply mental.
So long for now! I hope to write some more blogs concerning language learning in the near future :)