Fraser Tan '04 (Biology Major and Japanese Minor)
Q: What made you interested in studying about Japan or studying the Japanese language?
A: I was intrigued by a high school class and really wanted to continue learning about japanese history and culture at swarthmore.
Q: How did you decide on your major and minor?
A: I knew i wanted to study Japanese culture when i first entered Swarthmore. At that time. . .there was no central program for me to follow - it wasn't until my junior year that the Japanese department was started. I was lucky enough to be able to take classes relating to Japan from a series of visiting professors in the Asian Studies department, and with the arrival of Gardner-sensei in my junior year, he and i crafted a custom curriculum to allow me to complete an Honors Japanese minor.
Q: Describe a memorable classroom or extracurricular experience studying Japanese or Japanese culture.
A: I think my favorite moment was when Jo-sensei organized a giant cooking party for us, as we were learning the vocabulary for cooking. The entire Japanese class (and friends!) piled into the Friends Meeting House, and we all helped cook enourmous amounts of curry, and we could only speak Japanese. It was tons of fun!
Q: How would you describe the experience of learning Japanese language to someone who is thinking about studying it for the first time?
A: It's very different from learning any other language, simply because it is linguistically so unique. But it is incredibly fun once you get the hang of the strange grammar. The truly challenging part is keeping at it every day, and really practicing your skills so you can become proficient in it.
Q: What are you doing now? How has the study of Japanese and Japanese culture affected your life?
A: Now I'm getting a PhD in biochemistry at Stanford. The study of all things Japanese isn't really part of my life anymore and i must admit that I really miss it. But I keep reading books on history and watching anime, which is fun.