Alex Hudson '05 (English Major, Japanese Minor)
Q: What made you interested in studying about Japan or studying the Japanese language?
A: Initially, I was interested in simply continuing my studies of Japanese language and culture that I had began in high school. As with most worthwhile things, I found that the more I learned, the more I wanted to keep learning.
Q: How did you decide on your major and minor?
A: I essentially followed my main interests in college, which, as would make sense, coincided with the fields in which I had the most credits.
Q: Describe a memorable classroom or extracurricular experience studying Japanese or Japanese culture.
A: Our discussions in Japanese 083 (War/Postwar Culture Seminar) were lively, and always entertaining.
Q: How would you describe the experience of learning Japanese language to someone who is thinking about studying it for the first time?
A: Japanese differs from English linguistically, semantically, and philosophically, that is, in the very basic way that writing, and therefore thought (if you subscribe to that particular theory), is created. Learning how to fluently construct and deconstruct in this new mode of thinking is difficult, and immensely rewarding.
Q: Describe your experience studying abroad in Japan.
A: I created my own program of study with the help of the faculty at the Performing Arts College of Tamagawa University in Machida, Japan. This posed considerable difficulty, and the first couple of weeks involved a lot of shuffling between classes, finding what I was underprepared or overqualified for and adjusting accordingly. And though I had a lot of support from faculty, including the sponsoring dean who was fluent in English, I was very much on my own. For some people, living without the structure of a standard study abroad program may be more trouble than it's worth, but for my part, I feel that the experience really forced me to utilize and rely upon my Japanese in order to get through even the most mundane aspects of day-to-day life. Japan loses the whole "Mysteries of the Orient!" glamour when you have to study for a few weeks just so you can buy the right ingredients at the supermarket. I really enjoyed getting into the business of everyday life, though again, that may not be exciting for every college student. I also feel like being outside of a program, with only one other American student, forced me to learn how to connect with my Japanese peers in a really genuine way; I didn't have any guidelines, any icebreaker parties, any language partners, but instead had to put myself out there and connect with people, using Japanese, as best as I could. This may be needlessly awkward for some, but I personally felt that the experience helped me grow a lot as a person.
Q: What are you doing now? How has the study of Japanese and Japanese culture affected your life?
A: I am currently living in San Jose, California, after having spent last fall in Osaka helping out Joseph Small '05 with his Fulbright project. I am a touring member of San Jose Taiko, one of the first and most influential North American taiko groups, and am in fact on the road right now in the final third of a two month touring schedule. My interest in Japanese culture (particularly postwar) was one of the factors that led me to taiko in the first place, and of course now I play taiko as a sort-of job. I currently live in the Japantown neighborhood of San Jose, which is one of the three remaining Japantowns left in America, and as a result have become involved in the community's attempts to maintain and preserve these locations. My studies have also taken me to Japan twice, and I expect to return there again in the near future in some capacity.