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Lars Johansen
Lars Johansen

STUDENT INTERVIEW: Lars Johansen (SILAC)

Today I interviewed Lars Johansen from Denmark who's been studying on SILAC for the last 5 weeks.

Jon: How's everything going so far?
Lars: Good, really like the school. I started at rock bottom and I can feel I'm progressing very well. The teaching here is the best I've experienced, compared with Denmark and a school in Los Angeles I attended. Even my teacher said I've been doing better recently as well.

J: I know your not staying in Yamasa accommodation, so where are you staying at the moment?
L: In Toyohashi with my girlfriend.
J: Where did you meet her?
L: We both studied at an international school in L.A.

J: How much Japanese did you know before you started here?
L: Nothing at all! I learnt some vocab from my girlfriend, some terrible words as well, but no formal study.

J: So why are you studying Japanese?
L: Mainly because my girlfriend is Japanese. Also it can never be a disadvantage to know another language. One year ago I lived in Nagano with my girlfriend but it was frustrating because I didn't know Japanese and they couldn't speak any English (or Danish of course).
J: How have the parents reacted to your relationship?
L: It's been hard trying to find out if it was a problem. Whilst my girlfriend was at driving school I was home with her mother and we never had any problems. I also get on well with her brother and his family. The father is a little bit 'old school Japanese' so I'm still not sure. I have tattoos and they weren't too pleased with them. My girlfriend's been to Denmark for a year of schooling that her parents paid for so.........

J: Getting back to the studies, what do you think of the teachers at Yamasa?
L: I find them very dedicated, serious about their job. They're always prepared and I'd put them in front of Danish teachers. I had a Religious Education teacher at a school in Denmark who said, 'I don't care if you come or not as I still get paid anyway'. I'm glad they don't have that kind of attitude.

J: You been studying for 5 weeks. How much longer will you continue for?.
L: I want to study for another 6 weeks if possible but I have to take a look at my budget at the weekend and see if an extension is possible.

J: How many people were in your class when you started?
L: Just one!
J: Were you surprised at being the only student in the class?
L: Yes, definitely. When I enrolled there was only 2 of us in the orientation and I knew from talking to you on the phone that the class sizes will be small, but not that small!
J: What was it like being the only student?
L: It became a bit stressful as it was one-on-one teaching all the time. Then other students came into the class for a few days and I found I prefered being on my own!
J: How many students are there in your class now?
L: Still just me. It's not as stressful as before which is good.
J: It's almost like taking private lessons.
L: That's right!

J: Being the only student in your class, have you found you've met a lot of other students?
L: I was a little worried at the beginning and you can't really talk to each other that much in class anyway. But between classes I'd smoke and that's where I've met people. I see myself as a fairly open so it hasn't been difficult.

J: What do you do outside of class?
L: Play basketball!......What do I do........? Not so much..........I go out with my girlfriend most of the time as I haven't seen much of her in the last 12 months.
J: And what are you going to do when you finish at Yamasa?

L: Go back to Denmark as I only have a tourist visa and need to leave Japan soon! Probably work for a few months in Denmark and then return again for a few months. I want to start university in Denmark in September so I have some time until then. Maybe I'll study Japanese in Denmark or come back to Yamasa..........

J: Do you have any advice for new students or people planning to enroll?
L: Personally I should've stayed in the Student Village, and perhaps not stayed with my girlfriend. SILAC is not something you can do for fun as you need to devote a lot of time to study after classes without any distractions. I was working before I started studying and it took time for my mindset to change from work to study.

J: And finally, any suggestions to improve the course or environment at Yamasa?
L: The toilet seats are too warm! Maybe I spend too long on them.........You need a smoking room.....it's so cold smoking outside!

J: Thanks for your time.
L: No problem!

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