Blog

An Introduction

Hello!

That girl up there is me, and my name is Mary. That was taken about two years ago in France.

I am an American girl, who is stuck between the stages of my teenage years and my early adulthood. I still classify as a teenager, being nineteen and what not, but I’m a college student who could very easily be classified as an adult.

That’s a scary thing.

However, life is good. I’m in school, I have a loving boyfriend, and I speak three languages. Kind of.

I am a native English speaker (and I make the effort to sound like one, instead of typing out “yo how r u.”), I speak decent French, and I can say some conversational things in Japanese. Not much, though.

My hobbies include staying at home, being with my two dogs and family, singing, and learning about the French and Japanese cultures and histories.

So, that’s me in a nutshell. I’m not a very exciting person, which should make for easy blog posts. Most posts will probably be in French, since that’s my strongest foreign language, or in English. Japanese will be saved for posts that are easier to write and for when I need to practice what I’m learning in class.

I hope to have posts filled with adventures later down the line!

Advertisements

My Tips For Learning Japanese

As I’ve stated in my previous post, a lot of people have asked me if Japanese is hard… I’ve also been asked if it was like Chinese or Korean, or have had it referenced to me as “that thing that they speak in anime”…

Japanese is not any of those things (well, somewhat). I’m here to provide some tips to learning Japanese for those who want them!

  • General Tips
    • Japanese is not spoken like in anime
      • Obviously, the language that they’re speaking in is Japanese, but the actual Japanese that you’re hearing isn’t the proper Japanese that you should be learning. There’s no pitching your voice to sound “kawaii” or trying to sound “manri”, there’s just you talking.
        • Japanese teachers WILL dock points from any speaking assignments for you sounding “unnatural” if you try to do this in class.
    • Japanese does not use a Romanized alphabet.
      • “But Mary! When I see Japanese words, I also see the Roman alphabet above it!”
        • Okay, so this is just to tell you how to pronounce the words as someone who can’t read Japanese kana/kanji. In fact, the further that you get into learning Japanese, the less and less that you’ll see the romaji to aid you in the pronunciation. Think of the romaji as training wheels until you can read enough Japanese kana for pronunciation purposes.
    • It’s only hard if you believe it is!
      • Obviously, there are going to be some challenges. Learning an entirely new (and large) alphabet, there are a couple of pronunciation differences, the grammar is COMPLETELY different, and so on. There are challenges, but once you get over them, you’ll realize just how simple (fun) the language can actually be!
  • Tips For English Speakers
    • This language is NOTHING like English! You’re going to hear some English words in Japanese, but the grammar and special rules are fantasy-like.
    • Listening is key!
      • This has to do with the new pronunciation rules that you’ll need to learn. In English, we don’t need to listen to how long a sound is held out, if there’s a space in between sounds, or whatever it is… We just talk without any thought of it! However, this isn’t the case in Japanese. Hold a sound out for too long or too short and you might end up saying the wrong word!
    • You’re going to be learning a new culture as well!
      • Bowing, honorifics, what to say when you leave or enter your home, when to use polite speech, Japanese holidays, a bit of history, and so on. It’s a lot, but it’s stuff that you just sort of learn with the language, so any extra time spent on researching the culture is up to you!
  • Tips For Chinese Speakers
    • Japanese uses Chinese characters (Kanji), which is used in most everyday Japanese. The only thing is that you will need to learn the new pronunciations for these characters (along with the kana), but these characters that you already know will give you clues as to what sentences are about if you get lost while reading.
  • Tips For Korean Speakers
    • Japanese and Korean share basically no relation and should not be seen as similar. HOWEVER, there is one similarity to note: the grammar.
      • Let me ask you this: In Korean, would you say “The apple is red” or “the apple red is”? The latter, right? The same with Japanese! The word order in Korean and Japanese are fairly similar, if not the same in some situations. You’ll be surprised with how helpful this can be, and you should savor the simplicity of Japanese that you have been enlightened with.

 

Final words from me?

Just keep it going! There’s going to be tough times, but if you just keep it going, you’ll do great! I’m cheering for you all!

Why Am I Learning Japanese?

I’ve recently traveled to France for a couple of weeks to visit some friends and my old host family. While I was there, I was getting a few questions about college: What I was studying, what college is like in America, etc, etc…

Well, I normally give the full thing of what I’m studying: French major, Japanese minor, teaching certificate for secondary education.

Now, I’m pretty used to the eyes widening, the “wow, that’s impressive”, and the whole thing. I get that a lot. I also get the question-“Isn’t Japanese hard?” or “What do you like more, Japanese or French?” or something along those lines. However, while I was on my final plane to get to France, I sat next to a man who I started talking to because I offered him a super cheese sandwich that I was given while sleeping (lactose intolerant). He asked if I was in middle school (fml), and then started asking about college once I corrected him on which school level I’m actually in.

His question after being given the normal layout of my degree was “That’s neat! But, why Japanese? Why not learn another language that would be more useful?”

More useful, huh? All I could do was shrug my shoulders and give him an unsure smile. “It’s just something that I really enjoy learning.”

“But, why not something like Spanish? Or German? You would need that more often.”

Again, I just sort of shrugged. I didn’t know how to really respond-I had never been asked that question before. So, I thought on it, and I finally know how to respond (a little late, now that I’m back in the states).

I’ve been teaching myself Japanese since the fifth grade. I’m a sophomore in college now and didn’t take a gap year, get held back, or skip any grades. I’ve basically been studying Japanese for about ten years now, back from when I could barely speak clear English sentences. There was just something about the language that I absolutely loved, that I still love. It’s what some people would call a “passion”.

I have been told “you’ll grow out of it, you’ll get bored of it”. Obviously not.

Now, what about for how useful it’ll be? Let’s do a bit of explaining:

Items are useful for certain situations. For example, a hammar is useful for someone building a shed, but not for something trying to butter some toast. Hair dye is useful for coloring hair, but not so much for fixing a car. Well, my situation is that my life has always included this extra language, and my future is likely to need it as well at this point. I want to teach in Japan, at least for a year, and I want to teach it. I’m even considering getting qualified to be an interpreter or translator-and Japanese isn’t always that common to find.

To that man who was a French citizen living in America, Japanese is not useful to him. French and English are his tools to get through his life, English, French, and Japanese are my tools to get through my life.

So, I guess you could say that I’m learning Japanese because it’s become useful to me. It’s become my passion, almost as much as singing has been my passion since I could talk. And, to those who are wanting to learn Japanese or any other world language: There are so many perks, so many pros. It’s tough sometimes, but it’s so worth it in the end. Once it becomes your passion and has developed into your tool, you’ll realize just how simple it is to do.

Good luck to all of you learners!

Whoopsies

Au université, il y a un club de la culture japonaise. Cette semestre, je m’ai inscru cette club, et j’ai adorée tout qu’on peut adorer. Aussi, j’ai des amis nouveux  (qui sont les membres du club), et ils sont fantastiques!

Mais, tous les membres ont leur graduation (ou, trois ont leur gradutaion, deux n’ont pas les temps pour le club), donc il était une élection. Au début, j’ai pensée que je peux être la secrétaire, parce-que c’est une petite position.

Alors, il était trois personnes (avec moi) qui ont dit qu’ils voulent être des membres. Avec ça, j’ai decidée avoir une candidature pour Vice-Président, garder une petite position jusqu’à quelq’un dit qui’l veut cette position, et rester comme VP.

Donc… Les membres ont decidés me faire la Président. Whoopsies! Il y a quatre membres nouveux (avec moi), et je suis la Présidente du club jusu’à mon graduation. Je suis la plus jeune membre, mais je pense que c’est bien!

Bonne chance à moi!


At the university, there’s a club of Japanese culture. This semester, I joined the club, and I have loved everything that one can love. Also, I have some new friends (who are the officers of the club), and they are fantastic!

But, all of the officers are graduating (or, three are graduating, two don’t have time for the club), so there was an election. At first, I thought that I could be the secretary, since it’s a small position.

Well, there were three people (with me) who said that they want to be officers. With that, I decided to run for Vice President, keep a small position until someone says that they want it, and stay as VP.

So… The officers decided to make me president. Whoopsies! There are four new officers (with me), and I am the president of the club until my graduation. I am the youngest member, but I think that it’s okay!

Good luck to me!

Retaining A Language

I speak three languages.

Surely, that makes me knowledgeable enough to share tips and tricks on how to learn a language, right?

Well, yes. I can at least give my own experiences and what helped me learn the languages I know. I may not be able to sit down and explain how language works and how to learn a foreign one (yet), but I can at least give SOMETHING that will help others.

However, there is one thing that I have not yet been able to master enough to share my wisdom with others. That would be retaining a language.

When we’re toddlers, it’s really easy to learn and retain a language. You speak whatever your family speaks, and use that in your everyday life. You both learn and retain through the mystical ways of immersion. If you are/have been an exchange student, this term should be VERY familiar with you. You had no choice but to speak that language, so you had no choice but to learn it. It’s your native tongue.

That’s how I learned English. I’m American, my family all speaks English, and only ever spoke English to me.

When I took French in high school, it was a little more difficult than that to retain what I was learning. I had the class every other day, and was never given homework outside of any projects or missing work. I went to tutoring when I needed it and always tried to go the extra mile. I was counted as an “exemplary student” due to my high grades in the class and how passionate I was about learning the language.

So, how did I learn French?

Well, I’m still learning everyday. I have one French class three times a week with  bunch of homework. However, I was able to get so advanced so quickly by a few of things.

For one, I tried to talk with my high school French teachers (I had two throughout my high school career) as much as I could. Even if it was a simple “bonjour” or “comment ça va”, I made the attempt. I was very shy, only recently coming out of my shell, but you just can’t be shy in learning a foreign language. Once I had a larger vocabulary and a better understanding of the grammar, I was able to tell my teachers about my days, how my weekends were, tell them about a movie (or, most likely, an anime) I really enjoyed, or whatever. Simply attempting to use it helped.

And then there was the forcing myself to use it. In the summer of 2015, I went on an exchange to France with Rotary (I’ll link to their website at the bottom). It was only for three weeks, but I had the time of my life. Not only did I get to see so many cool things and meet so many people, but I got to improve my French immensely. My teachers noticed how much more natural I was able to speak, and was able to understand some more slang that French teenagers used, and overall just had a great improvement. Never would I give those experiences up.

Lastly, there was trying to be useful. I hosted a French exchange student during my senior year of high school (2015-2016). She spoke (and still speaks) pretty good English, but there were of course things that she didn’t quite know how to say. Even little things like when to say the “h” sound (as French don’t say their “h”s), or having to translate things for her to help her with whatever. My previous knowledge of French and being able to speak it helped her. In term, she helped me whenever I made a mistake and she taught me how to say many more things. That was one of the best ways to learn French.

Now, even with all of this, I’m struggling with the retention of Japanese. This would make sense, as I live in America, in an area that primarily speaks English, with many Spanish speakers, and you’re more likely to see a pink Zebra than meet a Japanese speaker. It happens, but really not that often. My college is quite diverse, there are people from many different countries who speak different languages, but it’s still a little rare. So, how am I attempting to retain what I’m learning?

I’ve never been to Japan, and I’m only able to pray that I’ll one day be able to teach abroad long enough to get some immersion… in about four years.

I do have a Japanese friend, but both of us speak French to each other. It’s helping him immensely, but that isn’t exactly helping me out too much. I also don’t know a whole lot of conversational topics to discuss with him. I’ve been learning things like “it takes me five minutes to walk to the station on foot” for the past few days. Not the best way to make a conversation.

So, with what little I am actually able to do, I do these things: Sing, watch anime, and read the newspaper.

I have a YouTube channel where I’m currently mainly singing in Japanese to improve my pronouciation. I am also a big fan of anime, so watching it in Japanese and attempting to keep myself from reading the subtitles forces me to really listen to what the characters are saying. Reading a Japanese newspaper and at least looking for katakana helps me with my reading skills in everyday situations.

It may or may not be working, but I’m trying. Hopefully I’ll be able to learn enough to be fully confident in speaking in Japanese with strangers!

Link to Rotary (the exchange program): https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/youth-exchanges

(Feel free to ask me any questions about Rotary!)

La Colère

J’aime les adolscents-Je voudrais être proffesseur du collège. Je ne sais pas pourquoi je préfère les adots plus de enfants, mais c’est comme je sens.

CEPENDANT!!!!! Si ma mère et moi sommes dans la voiture, conduirons dans la rue á ma maison, je ne peux pas aimer PERSONNE quand quel adot lance quel’que-chose á la voiture!!!

SI!! J’ai la colère, parce-que tout ce qu’il a lancé avait pu casser le pare-brise et se faire mal á ma mère.

Nous avons de la chance que c’etait de l’eau dans un sac, et que le pare-brise n’a cassé pas, mais ENCORE!!!

Qu’a besoin de casser dans le tête de cet étudiant penser <<Ah, je lancerai cet sac et effayer quelq’un>>?!! Où sont tes parents dire toi que tu NE PEUT PAS faire ça??????

C’est tout. C’était ma diatribe.

Bonne journée.


I like teenagers-I want to be a high school teacher. I don’t know why I prefer teens more than children, but it’s how I feel.

HOWEVER!!!!! If my mom and I are in the car, driving on the road to my house, I can’t like ANYONE when some teen throws something a the car!!!

YES!! I have rage, because whatever he threw could have broken the windshield and hurt my mom.

We are lucky that it was water in a sack, and that the windshield didn’t break, but STILL!!!

What has to break in the head of that student to think “Ah, I’ll throw this sack and scare someone”?!! Where are your parents to tell you to NOT DO THAT??????

That’s it. that was my rant.

Good day.

Minnie

I have two dogs.

Lila:

14088404_942113209249314_8658617641831452151_n

My family’s super sassy six-year old Miniature Schnauzer.

And Minnie:

15420965_1382768691755617_1044817977261758439_n

Minnie is a lot of stuff.

One half Shih-Tsu, one thirds Yorkie, and one thirds Pomeranian fluff.

And she’s a year old. Birthday is on Leap Day.

Woo-hoo.

I blame the French for her being a part of this family.

We have a family friend who cracked and got a puppy. He was a really cute little thing. Emphasis on the was. But he’s super duper sweet.

Anywho, the owner of the puppies was originally giving Minnie to a different person, but the deal fell through. If no one wanted her, she was going to the shelter.

Okay, so where do the French come in?

Well, I hosted a French exchange student for one year. Her family decided to come visit us during one of their two-week vacations and see the sights. As me, my mom, my younger brother, my exchange student, and her brother are in the car leaving the airport after picking them up, mom gets a text from our family friend.

She tells my mom that the deal fell through and that the puppy (I don’t think she had another name) would be taken to the shelter. With that, she sends my mom this:

Screenshot_20170315-145700[1]

Now, we only had Lila at this time, and I had been BEGGING my parents for almost two years, after our old Matlese passed away, to get another dog. This puppy was just adorable, and was a girl like what we wanted. Not only that, but there weren’t any major health problems that came with any of her mixture of breeds that would effect her as a younglin’.

We had showed the picture to my exchange student, her two siblings, her parents, and two grandparents once we got home. They really wanted us to get this puppy.

That’s why I blame the French for this puppy.

So, after me, my mom, my brother, and about seven French people (six of which didn’t speak much English) begged my dad for this puppy, she was ours.

We had to wait about a week to get her, as we had previously made plans to take my student’s family out of town. Our family friend kept her for us, since she had her brother, and we were left coming up with a name.

As it turns out, there’s a tradition in France where depending on the year, you name pets or children a name that starts with a certain letter. Last year was “M”, and she was soooooo cute…

So we named her Mignonne. For short, we call her Minnie, and even shorter is MinMin.

I know, my family is so creative.

And it’s been a ride ever since. Here are some photos of her:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

If I was able to show videos, you all would get to see how she likes to dig into furniture. It’s quite funny, actually.

But, that’s the baby of the family. It’s almost been a full year since we got her, and I would never take it back to change any of it.

I Am That One Idiot…

I am that one person who doesn’t do much, who isn’t interested in many things, and has very few actual interests.

One of these interests is anime. I’ve been into it since fifth grade (so about nine years now), and have always loved it. From falling in and out of my Kuroshitsuji phase, to being a part of the anxiously awaiting Shingeki no Kyoujin season two crows, and so on.

And I really like anime.

So, when Lent comes around, I have to think about what to give up.

There are some things that I could give up: video games, a social media platform, going outside

Yet, those things aren’t really a sacrifice. It should be something that means a lot to me, and is difficult to give up. My boyfriend, for example, gave up donuts and Doctor Pepper. Please note that this is the person who would arrive to school, meet up with me in the morning, and try to hide his half-dozen donuts that he would eat in that day in hopes of me not judging him. He slowly stopped caring about me judging him. (By the way, he is SKINNY. Always has been. I’m jealous).

So, I made the ultimate sacrifice.

I am that one idiot who gave up anime.

So far, we are a couple of weeks in… I am miserable.

I made the mistake of starting the anime “Orange” right before Lent started. I really want to watch it. I want to start Youjo Senki as soon as possible. The new Kuroshitsuji movie came out. I NEED to watch that!!!

However, I shall live. Easter is coming up soon. I will fight through this.

Wish me luck.