Here is an update from Jasmin Tuazon, a junior Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teacher education major and East Asian studies minor:
After a few classes, my minor leans toward a focus on Japanese.
Although both FCS and East Asian studies seem completely unrelated (which they sort of are), there was no way I could pursue only one. Both are sincere passions of mine, and I hope to spread the love for both subjects to everyone.
My interest in learning languages has come from many sources. Ever since the mandatory Spanish class from elementary school up to my Spanish electives in middle and high school, I knew that lifelong language learning would be something I would happily pursue. During my middle school years, I had heavy interest in Japanese manga and anime, which only furthered my desire to really grasp new languages. There is always something to be learned about the culture and yourself when learning a new language.
At first I did not consider life as an Illinois State language student any different than any other Illinois State student. Upon further reflection, I realized that this life comes with a certain thrill of learning a new language that isn’t written with the Roman alphabet! Knowing that I have the ability to connect with others on a deeper level during my travels is such a great accomplishment that I never thought I would achieve as a student.
Although the classes seem daunting being four credit hours, I have found that if you dedicate time and have a true desire to undertake the challenge, it is easily achievable. The classes have also been a wonderful vehicle to explore cultures and practices outside of the United States. Aside from that, the professors (or senseis ) that I have had the pleasure of learning from have all been dedicated role models who are truly invested in my learning. They have made the classroom an open environment while challenging each student to do better.
During the spring 2017 semester, I studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. Some highlights from my experience include taking classes that really challenged my thoughts (and forced me to step away from just making comparisons between Japanese and American culture), meeting other international students who are as dedicated as I am, visiting temples (both major tourist spots and the lesser known ones), watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in Japanese, wearing awesome kimonos, completing a school internship as an English teacher assistant in a middle school, and finally, getting lost in Japan. While I mean letting myself go and truly soak in Japanese culture, I also mean actually getting lost. With no easy modes of communication in Japan, it pushed me to improve my Japanese and get comfortable speaking with locals and to learn more about myself as an individual.
This summer, I plan to study abroad once more at the Hokkaido University of Education.
After I graduate, I hope to find a position as an FCS teacher, but I am open to all possibilities, wherever they may take me. No matter where I end up, I know that I will eventually find myself roaming the mysteries of Japan again.