Saturday, November 19, 2005

Advice for future Yamasa students


Class is over now. Chances are I will not be going back to Yamasa for any more schooling - the 18 weeks I have done there is probably enough.

Some advice to anyone else who may be going to Yamasa in the future:

- if you can, get a homestay. You will miss out on some of the social life related to meeting other students, but will gain a lot towards learning about Japan and Japanese customs.

- If you live in the Student Village dorms - don't spend all your free time there. The dorms are good in that there are so many other foreigners for you to meet, and this has its benefits (I have made some very good friends of various dorm mates from when I was there). One bad thing is that it is way too easy to hang with other foreigners and not meet Japanese people. So get out and meet Japanese people.

- Even if you are not in the dorms, meeting Japanese people can be a major challenge. One place I found that was good to meet Japanese people was a western style bar called Izakaya Ja Nai, located on the other side of town. For the price of a beer (or three), you can hang out there. Generally the Japanese people who go there are open to talking to foreigners (and often they go there just for that). Note - if you do go with other students from Yamasa, make sure you are willing to split off from them. You won't practice your Japanese much if you sit at a table of 4 foreigners...

- Don't worry about if you don't do well in class - I have found that the grades on your tests are not really an indication of how good you are at communicating. One of the downsides to any Japanese language program I have seen (not just Yamasa) is that they often are looking for specific grammar forms in answers, and even if you communicated the answer Ok, you get points off. What matters is how you do on the street when you talk to regular Japanese people, and this should be how you judge your skills. Each time I have gone to study at Yamasa, I also allowed a few days for some travel after the classes, and during these times I found out how well my skills has improved.

- If you are going for just a few weeks, and have a choice on when to go, try to avoid the summer. Because colleges are out in the west, and many students use this as a time to go for a short term study in Japan, the program at Yamasa fills up. This makes for crowded dorms and classes. Summer classes are often like 15 students per class, where the times I was there often had numbers of less than half of this.


At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Julien said...

Thank you very much for the advices!


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