Jackson Pietsch '13
After three years assistant-teaching English on the JET Program, I'm returning to the States this August to be near family as I start working as a freelance Japanese-to-English translator, aiming to specialize in video game localization (which I thought was just an idle would-be-nice idea, until I realized sophomore year that I could actually do it). I wouldn't be here without everyone in Swarthmore's Japanese program in turn being there for me and its other students.
With help from the department, I found a fitting one-semester study abroad program at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS), at Kyoto's Doshisha University, which was both language-intensive and encouraging of exploration and discovery. That length of time, and the support of Professor Gardner and the rest of the department, let me balance my Japanese and Computer Science majors.
There was enough opportunity to practice Japanese enough on campus (language tables, tutoring, chatting with visiting Tamagawa Taiko drumming group members) that I felt well-armed for such a daunting language for native English speakers to pick up - you really do need discipline, persistence, and a sense of humor about how little it turns out you really know. Good thing the inherent rewards are so sweet!