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Kim SuerimShinchon, Seoul, Korea
I'm studying in the Academic Intensive Japanese Program (AIJP)
What were you doing before you came to Yamasa?
I was a student at University of Inchon studying fashion design, before that I was at San Francisco State University.
Did you start as a beginner?
Yes. I even had some problems getting the visa in Seoul because I hadn't studied Japanese before. So I started in Yamasa with a i u e o...
What languages had you studied before?
I'd studied English and Chinese. My English is fluent but my Chinese is about the same level as my Japanese is now.
How long have you been at Yamasa?
I've only been here for 3 months so far.
Is this the first time you have lived in Japan?
Yes its the first time. I visited Japan before. I came here and went backpacking for 10 days about 2 years ago.
What are you plans after graduation?
I want to go to gradschool in California and do my Masters there, although New York is also fine....
I'm in a single room in the Student Village.
What is your accommodation like?
Its good. Very clean and new. Sometimes its a bit noisy - but I'm one of the people making the noise so I don't think I can complain much.
How do you get to classes?
I ride my bicycle. I rented it from the Nonoyama bicycle shop for 1000 yen per month. Its a "mama-chari" (a Mama's Chariot - means with 3 speeds, basket and bell) and is easy to ride do my shopping with, and travel around on. I even went to the Mindscape Museum by bicycle - although it took me about an hour.
What is the biggest challenge or problem you've faced so far in Japan?
The language barrier. I started as an absolute beginner so initially I didn't understand anything. And since I've only been here 3 months there are still a lot of things that I easily get confused about. But its a good challenge because Japanese will be my 4th language and thats pretty motivating for me.
Any surprises you would like to share?
I went to a public bath and was very surprised when the male employees of the bath-house entered the women's area to do some cleaning. I was even more surprised that nobody around me seemed to care - or even notice.
If a new student was entering your class today and asked for some advice, what would you say?
Do your best in class, concentrate as much as possible, don't think you can translate purely into your own language but accept that you'll need to start thinking in Japanese when you speak Japanese if you want to speak fluently.
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