Daigaku Z: Live And Learn

Daigaku Z:

Daigaku Z is a weekly column about what it’s really like to study the Japanese language and culture at a major university. Z is enrolled as a student at the University of Pittsburgh East Asian Language and Literature department after an over ten-year career in the information technology industry, and is pursuing a second degree with the aims of being a translator. This is the story of that degree.

Also, this is the last issue of Daigaku Z for the Spring 2015 semester. Thank you as always for your support and readership. The Summer 2015 semester’s columns will start on May 31st, so please look forward to it.

I dropped a little bit of a bomb on you at the end of the last column, but if you expect me to apologize for it, you’re not going to be happy. Actually, it’s something of a weird idiosyncrasy of mine to feel incredibly embarrassed to be bragging about a scholarship like that, but then again, if there’s been anything I’ve learned during this first academic year, it’s that I need to be less embarrassed by these victories. It’s funny that I would figure out that I need to develop an ego while learning a language that is explicitly designed to emphasize modesty and diminish personal aggrandizement.

These past twelve months– since I took the first steps to re-enroll in school– have been among the most stressful and grueling of my life. This summer semester is only going to get worse in that regard; eight hours a day to cram almost 30 weeks of learning into just 10 will tax my intellect and adaptability to their absolute limits. On top of all of this has been the stresses of an ordinary adult life. Bills, responsibilities, and other upkeep costs drained me of a lot of motivation and energy on the weekends. Fighting depression and the general strain of transition has been an anchor around my waist, but somehow I pulled through.

Even still, here I am. Here we all are. Last semester I was getting misty-eyed over being in a different recitation class than the friends I’d made in the fall. Now I realize that I’m going to be leaping forward beyond the people I started with, advancing on my own schedule, according to my original plan. It’s just as bittersweet. And yet, it’s also a strong position to be in. I have no real reason to be sad. It’s not like I’m losing these people forever; I’ll see them around. And if I want to pick up a few dollars and a little more practice, I can even consider tutoring them. (Yeah, I’m shameless.)

There’s a month or so until I start the next step in the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ll be resting well, practicing and trying to get a couple steps ahead, and by the time May ends and the summer semester kicks into high gear, I’ll be ready. I am so thankful for the support everyone has shown me to date, and I am so eager to continue my journey.