Welcome! / My Story

Hello! Welcome to my new blog, 訳に立てる (yaku ni tateru). As some of you may remember, my previous attempt at a blog—the one documenting my experiences on exchange in Japan—quickly fizzled out and the already infrequent updates ceased completely just a couple of months in. However, I am back with a new topic, and a new blog!

This is a blog on two things I am very passionate about: translation and language learning. I feel as though there is a bit to explain in starting this type of blog and like most things, it only makes sense to start at the beginning.

My story: how it all started
It would be quite correct in saying that language learning for me, was fairly serendipitous. While many decide to study a language because they want to, I initially never had any intentions to study a foreign language.

It all started in early 2004. From birth until that time, I had been raised in, and attended primary school in Sydney, Australia. The family decided that we would be making the move to Queensland. Understandably, I had many reservations about this and was not exactly for the idea. Leaving the friends I had made and grown up with, to move over 1000km away. At the young age of 11, it’s a lot to take on. Nevertheless, I joined my family in this move. I had been in my final year of primary school in Sydney and so, transferred to a school in Queensland and picked up where I had left off. Being primary school, much of what I experienced in Sydney was the same as primary school in Queensland—with one difference…. at primary school in Queensland, students studied a foreign language! Having never studied a language before, I was understandably intrigued at the notion but this was short-lived.

The language you studied depended on the school you attended and in my case, it was Japanese. Going into my first lesson, I felt quite intimidated as the other students in the class had already been learning for a couple of years and I knew nothing more than how to say “hello” and “goodbye”… The teacher was nice enough to give me some extra help; however, a short time later, he had to leave for his own personal reasons. His replacement was less than helpful and expected that we all knew a fair amount of the language. Her teaching methods did not at all seem catered to the primary school audience she was meant to be teaching, either. As you can probably imagine, this did not create the greatest first impression to studying Japanese and as such, I was not overly motivated to continue this for much longer.

In 2005, having graduated primary school, I moved across to high school. I entered the closest school to where I lived—it was literally down the road. Not surprisingly, the foreign language education requirement was also in effect for the first year of high school, as well. At high school, however, you had a choice! The languages offered by my high school were Japanese and Italian—the two most commonly taught languages at the primary schools in the catchment area. I liked the idea of studying Italian more so than Japanese—given the poor experiences I had in primary school—and pleaded so much to change. The school, however, told me that because I had attended a primary school that taught Japanese, that I should continue with it. Frustrated, but no longer wanting to fight a losing battle, I decided to solider on with it knowing that it was only for the year and I could drop it at the end of the year never to look back, again.

I guess my worries were that the language would pick up from where primary school left off and I would continue to be behind everybody else in the class. BUT! I was wrong! At high school, everything started from the beginning again. I was slowly able to gain the foundations of the language that are required to learn the harder stuff. In addition, my teacher in high school was lovely and offered a lot of support if you needed it! Just a few weeks into high school, I had gone from loathing the study of Japanese to not being able to get enough of it. I got into the habit of studying Japanese every day. Additionally, I started researching into the culture, the country, and its customs. I got into the pop cultural side of things, too—listening to music and watching Japanese television programs whenever I could. And it was these television programs that gave me the motivation to keep going. Obviously, when starting out, I couldn’t possibly watch these shows without the assistance of English subtitles; however, I knew that with enough study, I would one day be able to watch them without subtitles, and so I set myself that very goal. (And I was going to change to Italian!!)

And so, each year during high school, I made sure Japanese was the first subject to go on my subject choice forms. I had developed such an infatuation with the language, the culture, and the country. I had not yet been to Japan but could not wait to get the opportunity to go. In 2008, my school organised a two-week trip to Japan which I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in. We visited Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. In addition, we spent a week at our sister school in Saitama Prefecture and were fortunate enough to live with host families for that week. Living with the host family gave me the opportunity to experience daily life in Japan first-hand, and I loved every minute of it.

I completed Japanese as part of my senior schooling, and graduated with a very high mark—top of the class. And to think, just a few years prior to that, I had loathed studying the language entirely.

Having graduated high school at the end of 2009, I moved onto university in 2010. I chose The University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia, as it has a good reputation amongst the Australian universities. I initially enrolled in an Arts/Business dual degree and made the easy decision to complete an Extended Major in Japanese Language as part of the Arts component. A year in, I decided I did not enjoy the Business side of my studies and made the decision to drop to a single Arts degree. This took some serious thought, as I knew that purely majoring in Japanese would make things extremely difficult as far as careers were concerned. However, this was what I enjoyed and I knew that with hard work, I could make it work.

So I continued my university studies and in 2013, I took part in the UQ Abroad exchange program and studied in Japan for a year. UQ had many exchange partnerships with universities in Japan; however, on recommendation from my lecturer, I chose to go to Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. This is one of Japan’s leading national universities and is well-known for its Law, Commerce, and Economics faculties. I studied Japanese language subjects designed for exchange students, as well as Global Studies classes in topics including Sociology, Japanese culture, and Management. Living in Japan at such a young age gave me a lot of unique experiences and challenges and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time there.

In March this year, I returned from Japan after being there for roughly one full year. I was fortunate enough to obtain all my remaining credits in Japan—and these transferred across to my degree at UQ—and will be officially graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with an Extended Major in Japanese on July 25, 2014.

So… what’s next?
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot to consider when choosing to study a language. The career options can be very limited and these limitations can be even more severe depending on how proficient you become in the language.

Over the past few months, I’d considered a number of different options for what I would do next—each with their own pros and cons. My first plan was to travel back to Japan on a Working Holiday Visa, do some beach and snow resort work and other odd jobs and see what life had in store for me. I had been accepted for a beach resort position starting in early June; however, due to some initial credit transfer issues that had me thinking I would need to complete an extra subject next semester in order to graduate, I had to turn down their offer for the time being. At the same time, I had been taking part in the official Japanese job-hunting process. (就職活動 shūshoku katsudō) This epic phenomenon is worthy of its own post so I will leave that for a later time. In any case, recently I had received an offer (内定 naitei) to a fairly well-known company in Japan. At first, I was somewhat excited and was thinking of accepting their offer. After giving it some more thought, I knew that something about it just wasn’t quite for me (again, look out for the post on job-hunting and Japanese work culture) and decided not to take it.

Feeling more and more lost, I wasn’t sure where I would go next. However, one thing that I have always enjoyed was translating. I do the occasional job on a translation website—translating basic documents from Japanese into English—and really enjoy myself when doing so. With knowledge of two languages, and enjoying translation as much as I do, I knew that translation and interpreting is where I should head next and so, have made the decision to pursue further study and do my masters!

At my university, UQ, there is a rather unique masters program called the Masters of Arts in Japanese Interpreting and Translation, or, MAJIT for short. This program is specifically catered for bilingual speakers of Japanese and English and provides intensive, technical training in both translation and interpreting. The program is one of only two of its kind in the world and is highly regarded; as such, this is where I have set my sights. Of course, the work is going to be tough and entry is not guaranteed—I will have to sit an aptitude test later on this year—but it is something I want to work hard on and will be doing my best.

So, what about this blog?
This all leads to the creation of this blog. As I stated at the beginning, translation and language learning are two things that I have a very keen interest in. I have dabbled in other languages in the past and love how languages work. Additionally, I enjoy the difficult task of translating things so that they can reach a much wider readership than if they were only available in the one language.

And so, I have created this blog. The name of this blog, 訳に立てる is a play on words and is explained further on the About Me & FAQ page, so please check that out. Please also check out that page for a little bit more about me. I must also give thanks to a good friend of mine, Manori, for suggesting that title in the first place.

What will I be doing on this blog? Well, a few things, really. First and foremost, it is an environment where I can freely practise translating. If I come across any interesting things written in Japanese, I will translate these into English and post my translations, here. Additionally, I would like to discuss any issues I had in the translation process. Secondly, for any readers interested, I would like to educate you a little more on the translating and interpreting professions—discussing issues, news, and how to get accredited as an interpreter or a translator. Lastly, also as a blog on language learning, I would like to provide tips on learning a language. Obviously with Japanese being my background, some tips may be specific to Japanese; however, I hope that I can provide more general tips for people learning other languages, also.

As yet, I have not developed any sort of schedule as to when, and what, I will post. But I hope to update as regularly as possible. I already have a few ideas for posts so look out for those soon. Additionally, if you have any questions or ideas for posts, please do leave a comment.

I would like to thank anybody who has read this far down and I hope to make future posts not quite so long.

Bye for now!

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