Friday, October 26, 2012

The Start of My New Life in Japan


I'm in Tokyo.
And it is glorious.
I can't really explain it, honestly, it feels like I'm living in some kind of bizarre dream world. It's not real, but at the same time, it's so fantastically real.
I love the city. It was so overwhelming when I first got here, but now I've gotten used to it. I figured out the train system and now I can go anywhere I want with my nifty pass. I figured out banking, how to get a cell phone, the best places to get coffee. I figured out how to survive. And then I promptly fell in love with the city. It's magical. It takes my breath away, I am so in love with this place, I can't comprehend leaving. I've never lived somewhere so invigorating. I've never been so inspired in my life.
There's school. Oh man, school in the middle of all this! I'm in an ivy league school, one of the very best in Asia, and it's an interesting new environment. I'm in the department of International Liberal Studies and everyone is either bilingual or trilingual. It is truly international- in one class alone, I have classmates for Qatar, New Zealand, Holland, Mongolia, Indonesia, China, Korea, and of course Japan. I've met incredible people, incredibly intelligent people who are passionate about what they are studying. I've met inspiring professors. I feel intellectually stimulated. I'm taking classes that challenge me and make me think about bigger pictures. I've never felt so inspired.
It makes me want to travel more. Really, I don't have much desire to return to the US. I want to see the world, I have this overwhelming desire to see and learn about every place. I want to go places and learn languages and study history, culture, politics of every country... I have this overwhelming desire for knowledge. I want to know everything! That sounds ridiculous when written, but it's true. I want to learn about everything.
In one of my classes we were talking about the modernization of Japan that occurred during the Meiji restoration. Scholars were sent out to other countries and would stay there for years, learning the language, the culture, everything about the place. Then they would return to Japan with everything they'd learned.
I was sitting in class thinking, "wow, that's my dream job."
I want to go everywhere, learn as many languages as possible, study the world from various different perspectives. I'm here now, this is my start in Japan. Living and learning in Tokyo for a year.
I've never felt so alive. This post doesn't even touch the tip of it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Big News

My apologies for not posting much! I've been so busy lately, but I decided that I definitely want to keep this blog up, so maybe you'll be hearing more from me...or, maybe not, because I'm going to be even busier soon. I have some big news. Ready?

I'm moving to Japan in September.
(September, as in, next month.)

I was accepted to study abroad for a year at an ivy league school in Japan. I'll be living in Tokyo for one year, taking classes at the Japanese university and getting credit transferred back to my home university. I'm so excited! This is obviously a big change in my life, as I'm leaving my home, family, dog, boyfriend, friends, everyone and everything I know and love. I'm leaving home! Crossing the ocean and going on the biggest adventure of my life so far. I was the youngest person accepted in the program this year, at nineteen years old. I'm so, so excited. This is huge!

I've wanted to go to Japan for a long time, so I feel like a dream of mine is finally coming true. I first got interested in Japan when I was about six years old and had a children's book about the country and culture. I started learning Japanese language casually when I was eleven, and then seriously when I was seventeen. This spring I completed the third year (300 level) Japanese courses at university. I have a bunch of Japanese friends and I work with a lot of Japanese exchange students here, so I'm already able to use my language skills to some extent in my everyday life. I'm so excited to be going to Japan, hearing and speaking Japanese constantly- it's a great way to improve my language skills. I'm also incredibly excited to experience new culture (I've never been to Asia before), try new foods, meet new people, learn more about the world... This is a fantastic opportunity, and I'm really grateful that my university here has a program supporting students like me who want to do this.

Anyway, here I am, living life! I don't have time to write an extensive post about everything right now, but I'll try to write more soon! I've been growing and learning more about the world and myself, which is what I always strive to do. Life is full! I'll try to keep the blog updated with my international adventure! Thanks to anyone reading- your comments are what inspires me to keep blogging. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

To Keep or Delete....

Hello, poor little neglected blog.

Life is full. I am exhausted.

I have so much to write about, but honestly, I'm not sure if I should even keep this blog. It started out as a way for me to express myself when I was a teenager (I think I was fourteen or fifteen when I first started...?) and now I'm just embarrassed whenever I go back and read the old posts. I have tons to write about, but I don't know if it's even worthwhile to go to the time and effort to write clear and concise thoughts that nobody will ever read. Rambling to the quiet side of the internet isn't as appealing as it used to be.

But I know that I have a lot of information that could be useful to other unschoolers out there who might want to go to college. I learned a lot from this crazy experience of getting admitted, and I have a lot to say about what university actually entails. But is it worth it? I have almost no spare time. I'm a pre-med student double majoring in Humanities and Japanese. I'm working as a tutor and a teacher's assistant in the English as a Second Language program at school. I'm at school from early morning to late evening, and then when I get home, I have to start on the huge pile of homework. On the weekends I just sleep and do more homework. Blogging is not a priority. I could possibly make time for it, but would it even be worth it?

On one hand, I kind of have this overwhelming urge to "prove" to every anti-unschooling person that unschoolers can succeed in college. (Look at my 4.04 cumulative GPA. Yeah, 4.04. See that? Is your product of public school achieving that?)

On the other hand, yes, I have that GPA, but I still believe that grades are stupid. Why do we have this system of measuring success in academics? Shouldn't you be the one defining your success? Why should some letter/number be telling you what you learned? It's all a game to me. College is a game. "Succeeding" in college is a game. But, I know how to win.

Anyway, I have a lot to say. And not much time to say it.

Does anyone have strong feelings as to whether or not I keep blogging?
Let me know.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

ATTN: UNSCHOOLERS -- Stanford is Offering Free Online Classes!

Stanford is offering free non-credit online classes starting January 2012!

This looks like an amazing resource for unschoolers! I unfortunately don't have time to take any of these classes myself, but please let me know if you end up trying it out- I'd love to hear about the experience. See links below for details. 

Entrepreneurship Courses:

Lean Launchpad

Technology Entrepreneurship

Medicine Courses:


Civil and Electrical Engineering Courses:

Making Green Buildings

Information Theory

Complex Systems Courses:

Model Thinking

Computer Science Courses:

Computer Science 101

Machine Learning

Software Engineering for Software as a Service

Human-Computer Interaction

Natural Language Processing

Game Theory

Probabilistic Graphical Models


Design and Analysis of Algorithms I

Computer Security

Monday, August 8, 2011

I got the job!

Well, I walked into the interview, and they offered me the job, right then and there.

So I am now officially an English Tutor at my University. I'll tutor one-on-one with international students, and I'll work in the classrooms too, as a teachers assistant. Also, on occasion, I'll get to act as a "chaperone" on special trips that the international students take (including skiing trips, rafting trips, etc).

I'm pretty excited about this!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Unschooling Hate

CNN just wrote an incredibly positive article about Unschooling. (Click HERE to read it.) I've seen so many negative articles and news segments about unschooling, so it's really nice to actually find a positive one for once. I felt satisfied, and happy for the unschooling community when I read it.

...But then I made the mistake of scrolling down, and reading the comments.

Here are a few, just to get a feeling of what I'm talking about. I don't even want to start to address them right now, they are so ridiculous. I might do a follow-up post later... but right now, just read these.

"These kids probably have wealthy parents who got suckered into this "new age" education bullbleep. If any of their resumes lands on my desk it's going straight to the paper shredder."

"And then they grow up and cannot deal with a world that requires a degree of organization. They cannot hold a job where they need to do specific tasks at specific times. We wonder why the U S falls further and further behind in math, science, etc. while we champion goofy ideas like this"

"Yeah? What happens when they enter the workforce?  Think the company will let them do whatever they want on their own time?"
"Any parent who deliberately does this to their children should be charged with child abuse"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Japanese Summer School

This summer I decided to take 15 credits of Japanese.

That's an entire year of Japanese (the second year, 201, 202 and 203) squished into nine weeks.

Lets repeat that.

15 credits in nine weeks.

So, this is what my life has looked like lately:

Wake up at 5:45
Shower, eat breakfast.
Briefly review.
Leave the house at 7:00 on the dot to catch the bus.
Study for test while on bus.
Sit in class for five hours.
Get home around 1:00.
Eat lunch.
Chill out and let my brain relax for a bit.


That is what everyday, Monday to Friday ends up looking like. I also find time to practice violin and piano, go to music lessons, hang out with friends, and look for jobs, but it is safe to say that Japanese has pretty much taken over my life at this point. We have an average of three tests everyday, and your grades are never curved. If you don't pass, too bad, you'll have to repeat. No exceptions. Because of this, everyone studies like nuts. You have to, to survive.

This is probably the most intense academic experience I've ever had, but crazily enough, I sort of love it. Classes are taught only in Japanese, so my listening skills are really improving. Since everyone spends so much time together in class, we've all become friends. The professors are some of the greatest professors I've ever had in college, and they take their jobs seriously. I feel like I'm getting my money's worth, and I genuinely enjoy going to class most of the time. My Japanese is blossoming. I am happy.

Also, unrelated but worth mentioning, I've been looking for another job, ever since I quit the miserable soul-sucking one. I came across a really great opportunity, and applied, and amazingly enough I have an interview on Monday. I am SO excited, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high, because this seems like a pretty select and competitive job. I'll share the details about it if they hire me, but it basically involves working with International Students at the University. I'm stoked. But still, trying not to get too excited. Keep your fingers crossed, everyone!