And so the Japanese experiment (officially) begins…

With the knowledge that whoever is out to steal my identity probably already can, and a blog won’t stop them, my name is Imara. I am 20 years old, I am black, and I am studying abroad in Japan for the semester. This is the first in (hopefully) a series of blog posts about life as a Wellesley student abroad, budgeting while in one of the most expensive cities on earth, travel, and learning Japanese.

Tokyo Tower copy
The view from Roppongi is beautiful. #lifegoals

Officially my trip began about a month ago, which is really scary to think about considering how much money I have spent in the interim. However classes are just now starting. The cherry blossoms have been swept away – that’s how you know we are about to get down to business.

This first post will be a little bit expository, so bear with me.

I am a college junior at Wellesley College in Boston(ish), from Chicago. So I am not unfamiliar with large cities. I have been studying Japanese for a while, I have been to Tokyo before, and I have a lot of friends here. Basically I could make myself ~very~ comfortable and not have a lick of culture shock. I could only hang out with American people, speak only English, and come back with some really awesome photos. But that is definitely not my goal. I want to be uncomfortable, I want to try new things, and I want to share all of that with you. I hope you’re willing to come along for the ride!

As far as content goes, this week I think I will go backwards – so I will write about my first week here (with the help of some diary entries so I remember!), then my second, third, fourth (aka this past weekend) and then that should culminate with how my first week of classes/clubs went. Then I will continue to post from there.

As far as the title goes, it was a tie between 大丈夫s and 頑張っている. I chose 頑張っている for two reasons.

  1. Daijoubs doesn’t look as nice or funny as it sounds (for those who are note studying Japanese 大丈夫 or Dai-Jou-Bu is a way of responding “I am fine” or “It’s all good” which, combined with the English slang trend of shortening things and adding “s” ala Totes instead of totally… yeah see? Complicated and unfunny (unless you are part of a cultural phenomenon that extends as far as I know from California to Massachusetts because I have met four students who I have never (or rarely) spoken to who say it as well haha.)
  2. I have to keep a Middlebury blog in Japanese and I chose Ganbattieru (頑張っている) for that one. In order to explain why, it’s time for another Japanese grammar lesson. teiru (ている) is basically the equivalent of a gerund in English. So you are ~ing, in a state of being, in motion, kind of situation. 頑張る is a catch all term that I frankly use way too much in Japanese. It is used to mean perserverence, persistence, hanging on, and doing ones best in all manner of situations – from studying for exams, to recovering from a major tragedy. So because I am learning a new language, am in a relatively new city, and am constantly trying to not end up broke, 頑張っている seemed like a great way to describe my life.





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