Name: Ms. Liu Mei Wan, Rachel
“One of the key features of ICU is its bilingual programme combined with the liberal arts style of learning.”
Currently studying at International Christian University (College of Liberal Arts)
Double Major in Language Education and Linguistics
Primary School: Rulang Primary School
Secondary School: Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)
Junior College: Raffles Institution
Q. How did you study Japanese?
My mother tongue is Mandarin Chinese. English was the language of instruction for all the schools I had attended prior to ICU. I started learning Japanese in the Ministry of Education Language Centre (MOELC) as a Secondary 1 student, and continued to study in JC.
I have always been interested in Japanese culture and pop culture, and being able to understand the language helps me to better understand and appreciate certain aspects and nuances that I was previously unable to. Being able to read and consume media in Japanese, without having to wait for translations or subtitles has been a definite plus. It has also surprisingly been one of the factors that encouraged me to start learning Korean, and has been extremely helpful in improving my Korean and Chinese, since there are common vocabulary and patterns across these three languages. I have also been fortunate enough to make lifelong friends throughout my journey in learning Japanese.
Q. What made you apply to study in Japan?
While at JC, I had always thought that I would love to study in Japan, or something related to Japan which would allow me to continue using the language, lest I forget it. ICU was thus a wonderful option for me, as I was not confident enough in my Japanese language ability to complete a 4-year undergraduate programme entirely in Japanese. One of the key features of ICU is, of course, its bilingual programme combined with the liberal arts style of learning, which also allows students to decide between learning in their preferred language, English or Japanese. It also has a Japanese language programme for foreign students who might not have studied the language before, and I have seen friends and seniors develop an extremely high proficiency in Japanese throughout their course at ICU. Another feature of ICU that stood out to me was its international nature, which has allowed me to make friends, not only from Japan, but from many other countries and cultures.
Halloween Party 2019 (on the left)
Q. What is your life like in Japan?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to spend the past 6 months back at home with my family while taking classes online. * Before the pandemic, I would typically have dance practice anywhere between 3-5 times a week when my club (street dance circle) had a performance coming up, and in my down time, I would spend time talking to my friends in dorm, or chilling on the lawn square in front of the university hall when it was warmer out.
Some of my most memorable experiences are with my friends back in the dormitories. We had many people of different nationalities, such as Thai, Malaysian, Nepalese, American, Swedish, and so on. Thanks to the diversity we had in our dorm, we were able to have food parties. During the Christmas break, the few of us who remained in the dormitory visited a local shrine nearby for Hatsumode, and came back home to cook ourselves a warm bowl of soba. It was these little things that stood out to me most and made me feel as if I had found my home away from home.
Q. What is your future plan?
I used to dream about being an English teacher in Japan, but over the past year, I have found myself developing a stronger interest and passion in the talent and media industry. I would love to work in an environment where I can use all the language skills I have acquired over the years, and recently I have been leaning towards the Korean Pop industry and other international music companies. I have also considered translation work, though that would also require me to improve my Japanese much, much more.
Q. Any message to students considering to study in Japan?
I think that anyone who wants to study a new language, be it Japanese or not, should try attending some classes as a start, and see how that might work out for yourself! Japanese is much less daunting than you might think, though of course it will require a lot of hard work and effort in order to attain a higher level of mastery.
With regards to studying in Japan, it is best to do a lot of research o n which colleges and programmes are available to you, and the differences between them. I chose to study in Japan because I found a programme that fit perfectly with what I had had in mind, and which seemed manageable along with living alone in a foreign country. Don’ t settle for a programme that you might end up regretting! That being said, being able to study in Japan has given me access to so many new opportunities and experiences that I have been extremely grateful for, and I am sure it would be the same for you too.
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