This is my undergraduate admissions essay written on June 9th, 2007
Ishi no ue ni sannen
this Japanese proverb means
One must persist for three years to achieve a goal
It has been twenty-one months since I first visited Japan. Twenty-one months since I found my passion for learning Japanese. Since my return, my wholehearted commitment to learning Japanese has dominated my life. During a time when my classmates will treasure their high-school friendships for the final time, I will be setting out on an adventure to study abroad in Japan for five months. Living far from home and expressing myself in a foreign tongue will not be easy, but that doesn’t bother me, for I have yet to allow difficulty to hinder my ambitions.
It wasn’t long ago when I first experienced Japan. I just got a taste of it, eleven days. I don’t remember the exact moment I became so smitten. Was it jamming with musicians at a train-station or seeing the iconic salaryman weave through traffic on his bicycle? Maybe it was the colorfully dressed youth inventing their own street fashion or the children looking so prim and proper in their uniforms. Somewhere in-between the crowded trains, giggling girls, and singing vending machines, I became dedicated to learning Japanese. As of now I have only studied for twenty-one months. I’m half way there, having fifteen months more until I reach “sannen.” I’m learning more than just a language; I am gaining an understanding of a foreign world and adopting facets of a foreign culture.
When I returned to America, reality set in. My school doesn’t offer Japanese. I had to maintain my regular academic life, and the resources to learn Japanese are scarce. I would need to put forth a great amount of initiative to seek out these resources; I fervidly began learning Japanese. My friends thought my new devotion was just a phase, mocking me with the name “Post-Japan Deren.” To me this inside joke only cemented my resolve to pursue my ambition. Totally committed, I began what would turn out to be a most academically engrossing and time-consuming hobby. After exhausting books and audiotapes, I began attending a Japanese conversation club and have spent my precious Saturdays learning from natives. In the summer of 2006, I attended an intensive Japanese language program. After which, I become a Japanese woman’s English tutor in exchange for free Japanese lessons. I have reached out to the Japanese community for aid and have been given the resources I’d needed to learn. I’ve spent countless hours trying to absorb the Japanese language, and these hours have been nothing short of inspiring. I’ve proven myself capable of pursuing my interests and of having the strength to devote myself to my calling.
I draw inspiration from an experience I had while riding a Tokyo subway. I remember seeing a young western man with in a business suit text messaging in Japanese on his cell phone. Seeing the manifestation of my dream was inspiring. This memory fills me with hope that my goal isn’t unreachable. All I have to do is persist through the tough spots and work relentlessly and I will grasp the goal of “sannen” I’ve set before myself.