27 October 2014

Life is Good

Sometimes I think of how I started the term not speaking a word of Japanese except for maybe “sayonara” (goodbye). And I look back, and I think of how cool it is that now I can sort of have a conversation in a language that was totally foreign just a few months ago. And reading hiragana, katakana, and little bits of kanji is really rewarding. I call my mom on Skype and show her what I’m doing in class and she’s just like: “WHOA. You can read that?” It’s a cool feeling. Here’s the whiteboard I was practicing kanji on:

We're learning the symbols for numbers and time and days of the week and all that good stuff.
And here is the super entertaining to-do list I made on Friday:

(for those who don't speak Japanese, it says PARTY! -----> lol jk, I'm studying)
(for those who do speak Japanese, yes, I know I misspelled the last bit)

Besides just in Japanese class, I can tell that Lewis and Clark has enhanced my skills in general. I feel as though I’m a hundred times better at communicating than when I arrived here just a year and a few months ago. My discussion-based classes have really improved my oral skills, and I just feel so much more comfortable with talking in general. I love the engaging conversations I have here, both in and out of the classroom, both with my professors and with my peers. And I’m excited that my writing skills seem to be developing further as well. My professors, especially in the English department, have always been great at giving me feedback so I can improve on my papers. The trick is to be concise, make a clear path of words for your reader to follow, and let your passion for what you're writing about shine through.

Speaking of writing, I officially declared my English major on Friday! Whoo! Other exciting things that have happened lately were going to a poetry slam, going to a concert called "Arranging the Cosmos" put on by the music department,  going downtown to the Saturday Market and eating tamales, starting to watch Avatar (the cartoon series, not the movie) with my roommate, taking a nap (!), and, most importantly, seeing Bill Nye the Science Guy speak on campus! That was such an incredibly cool experience. Unlike many of my friends, I did not grow up watching Bill Nye’s show (because I was homeschooled in elementary school), but I still had a little bit of exposure to it. So I was excited, but not as excited as some other people going into it. However, the atmosphere was so contagious that I was amped up and totally stoked to be there almost immediately. Honestly, it was like a rock concert in the gymnasium. When he came onstage, everyone was just screaming their lungs out, stamping their feet, and chanting “BILL BILL BILL BILL!” His speech was so interesting, and he was so charismatic (albeit slightly awkward), but the best part was the question-and-answer section afterwards. He said some really cool stuff about the place of art in a world that emphasizes science, and talked about the value of science education, and even discussed his stance on GMOs. I think everyone was interested in hearing about that, what with certain bills in Oregon being voted on in the next few weeks.

This picture is courtesy of Lewis and Clark - I wasn't lucky enough to sit this close!

Well, I am going to practice Japanese some more now. Any questions? Email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu!

Until next time,


P.S. I'll just leave you with some pictures I took of campus during a break in the rain...