This semester I am auditing Japanese 101. Yeah, I know I’ve been talking about my favorite Korean actors, so why Japanese? Why not learning Korean instead? Well, it’s a long story, but in short, I’ve been falling in love with Japan even before I got to know my fav Korean actors. When I was in elementary school, my teacher told me how great Japan and Japanese were. After Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombing, they survived, got back up and became one of the number 1 country at least in Asia. The people were disciplined, respectful, and hard-working. Then I started watching animes, Japanese movies and dramas, and fell in love even more. I want to learn the languages, and I wish to travel there someday.
Thus, I decided to learn Japanese this semester. I should’ve done it earlier, though, I mean when I had more free time. But better Japanese 101 is for beginner, like for someone who first learns Japanese at least “formally”. I have some reasons why I decide to audit this class. First, it is not required and does count towards my degree, so I don’t want it to affect my GPA. I wanted to sit in actually, but after consulting my friend who worked in Japanese department in my university, it seemed that I wouldn’t be allowed to sit in. The Japanese department want the same commitment from the students. They want all students to prepare, do the homework, take quizzes, etc. Sit-in does not require such commitment since when we sit in, we’re more like observers (in my opinion, though). While taking it for credit, well, like I’ve said before, it is not required for my degree, and I don’t want it to affect my GPA. It’s too risky because I’m not sure if I’m gonna do well or not. Haha Yes, now you know it: I’m a play-it-safe person 😀 Another reason is that, I don’t have to pay for it 😀 As an international graduate student, I am required to take at least 9 credits to be considered a full-time student. Taking less than 9 credits is not allowed since it violates the regulation (except when I am done with the other courses). Taking more credits will cost the same as taking 9 credits. Auditing a class is charged too even though it doesn’t count towards my GPA. So you see, I just can’t take my required courses and JPN 101 to fulfill the 9credit requirement. My scholarship will not allow it because it is not required for my degree; they won’t pay for what is not required. Meanwhile, I can’t pay the fee for auditing myself. So my only options is taking 9credits plus auditing the JPN 101, which I am interested in. That way my scholarship will be okay because they don’t have to pay more anyway. So yes, I’m taking a lot of courses this semester. Wish me luck 😊
Anyway, I have a problem with my courses this semester. The required course that I want to take is not offered and won’t be offered till next Spring 2019. Isn’t it crazy? So I’ve been stressed out looking into the courses that I am interested in but at the same time will count towards my degree. It’s not that easy. But anyway, some schedule crashes and it might affect my auditing Japanese. But I’ve made a decision: no matter what, I should take it for the reasons I mentioned earlier. This might be my only chance.
Thus, on the first day of Spring 2018, I came to the JPN 101 class I wanted to join. I enrolled in the class before but it crashed with another course that I was considering to take, so I dropped it. I emailed the teacher about it and told her that I’d come anyway to ask her permission to audit JPN 101 in another section. JPN 101 is offered in 4 sections, start at 9, 10, 12, and 1pm. The class in which I enrolled but ended up dropping was JPN 101 the 1pm class. I came to the class hoping to be allowed to audit the first section, the 9am class.
So I came. The first day was just about introducing the class, the syllabus, the books we had to buy, and some regulations. It was like making a contract with the class. We were asked to sign a form saying we’ve read and understood the syllabus and rules and thus will comply with it. (Wow, that’s new to me! They really take it seriously. I was thrilled! I kinda love it actually. Sometimes we need to be pushed to adhere to the rules for our own success, no?). We were also given an example of how to write a proper email to the professor. We should conform to the given form, otherwise the professor won’t reply. (Wow again, just wow. See why I love Japanese now? Haha) But it’s kinda understandable. It has never happened in my graduate classes because most of us have known how to be polite and respectful in email. This class, however, was mostly taken by undergrads. Well, you know, I don’t mean t stereotype, but from my friends’ experiences teaching undergrads (and my experience, too), they often don’t know how to write email properly, so I understand. Besides, Japanese is concerned with manner and attitude so of course they want the students to be polite and respectful. But hey, so, yes, I am taking a class with a bunch of undergrads. Feeling young, eh? 😀 Actually not, since it makes me the oldest, being the only graduate student in that class. Haha That’s ok, nobody knows :p
So, after the class, I came forward to speak to the teacher to ask her to allow me to audit the 9am class instead of the 1pm class and sign the form for that so I can take it to the registration office (Yes, for audit, you cannot do it online like we do when taking regular courses because we need the signature of the professor who allows us to audit the class). And you know what happened when I came forward? She seemed worried that I wouldn’t be as committed. She told me that, from past experience, graduate students who audited that class were usually too busy. (Yes, graduate students have a lot of work! I am kinda pushing myself this time. But I need it to stay sane.) She resented that because if a student wasn’t committed, it would affect the class. (Yes, I know. I am a teacher, too! So I understand.) She said something like, “I know graduate students have a lot of work, but we need the commitment. We’ll do a lot of pairing too for practice in the class. If you don’t prepare before the class because you have too much to do for your graduate study, it will disadvantage your partner or other students who are paired with you during practice. Are you sure you’d be able to commit to this class? If you’re sure, I’ll sign the form for you.” So yes, I said yes. I know it’s gonna be a lot of work. I’ll try my best to be responsible and committed. Besides, the books are expensive, even more expensive than the books that are required for my required courses. LoL And they can only be bought in UAbookstore because it’s specifically made to be used in UA. (Really? Not capitalism?) So yeah, it gives me motivation too. It will be my loss if I’m not using this opportunity well; if I don’t take this Japanese learning seriously.
But you know, even on that first day of class when we hadn’t started learning Japanese (it’s just introduction!), I’ve learned a lot! About commitment, about responsibility. Because this is what I’ve always believed. Learning needs commitment. It’s not only the teacher who determines success but also the students themselves. I know, because I teach, too. And it disheartens me when I think that my students are not as motivated or not committed enough.
So yeah, this semester is going to be tough. It’s ok; I’ll be fine. I just need to manage my time better. That’s what I haven’t done well. I want to fix it, so I need to push myself. Besides, I want to position myself as a learner. It’s been a long time since I first learned English. And seriously, I have no idea how I could acquire English. Now it seems like a miracle 😀 I’m so proud of myself. Haha And by taking this class, I will also learn how the teachers teach. So I am observing this class too for my teacher professional development. *tsaaah 😂😂😂
By the way, today is the third day of the class, and you know what? I end up dropping the class that crashed the 1pm schedule. Dang. But that’s okay, now every day I have to leave for campus for my 9am class. It’s good, though. It forces me to get ready in the morning since I have the reason not to laze around. So, again, wish me luck! I’ll keep writing about this experience I guess 😊