I took my very first Japanese language class all the way back in 2004, as an eighth grade elective, simply because it was different from anything else I’d studied. It was indeed different, and that proved to be one of the hardest things about it. But it was also one of the most tremendously rewarding things as well. Almost ten years later, here I am, and it has taught me so many things: how to succeed and, more importantly, how to fail; how to look at the world from a different perspective; and most of all, what I love in life, which is studying Japanese culture.
When I got to William & Mary, I took my first Japan studies class as a freshman and never looked back. Over the last four years I’ve grappled with everything from translation to feminism to tsunamis to soft power, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I kept up with my language studies through the 400 level, and I spent nine weeks last summer studying abroad in Osaka. Now I’m finishing up my honors thesis on the Takarazuka Revue, and I can’t even believe where I’ve ended up when I think of where I started. With any luck, my journey isn’t nearly over yet. I’ll be spending the next year working with Japan-related institutions in the Washington, D.C. area before applying to graduate schools to continue my studies, with the eventual goal of teaching and researching Japanese culture full-time.