Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new!

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So, nearly one whole year ago, I said that I started living and working at a Japanese university! Since then, I've been getting endless emails and messages about what happened with that, and why I disappeared... I wish I could come up with some overly dramatic story-excuse that ultimately ends with me venturing off to a different planet and marrying an extraterrestrial, but sadly I can't do that. So instead, I want to tell everyone the summary of what happened, and what's been going on since then, and then move onto more exciting things! After all, isn't that what people typically do during new years?


So where do I begin?

I was living at the university for almost 6 months before leaving in June. I decided to not return for a future session with new students because of several very personal reasons. One of the main reasons, though, was because my grades in school were going down the toilet since the very first day. Before moving, I was getting 4.0s in Psychology classes, but then after moving I was getting 1.0s and 0.0s... Eventually, I stopped doing my homework all together because my job was so demanding. I would use sleeping as a way to get rid of my stress and frustrations, and I could literally sleep for days. It got so bad that I would only wake up to teach my one-hour lessons 5 times a week, and to perform roll-call every other night. I was skipping all my meals, and didn't bother going to the grocery store. I had several hospital scares, and freaked out my family with several late-night calls for a lift to the hospital. Although I loved living "alone", I didn't know how to take care of myself.

At the end of my session, I was actually offered a scholarship to become a student at the main university in Japan for one year. In the end, I refused because although it would've made getting to Japan much easier for me―I couldn't force myself to accept. I was, however, extremely honored!

After saying all these somewhat negative things, I want to make it known that I did have some pretty amazing experiences with my students that I will never, ever forget! I really cherish our time together, and I miss them almost every day...

Group 14!

I promise to dedicate an entire post to posting pictures and stories from my life at the university someday! This topic is still in desperate need of some proper closure!

After leaving the university, I started pouring my efforts into a website that I had been running since February. It was a Japanese language learning forum that I created so that I would have something to do during my free time at the university. The website eventually garnered over 200 members, with over 2400 posts on the site. Four of my friends eventually joined me in moderating the website as staff members, and on October 6th, 2013, we moved the entire site to a brand new, fully functional website―completely designed by us! We held a contest so that our members could pick our new name, and design a logo for us! And so, we became Gaiwa (shorthand for Gaijin no Kaiwa, or simply, "Foreigner's Conversation").

Almost one year ago, this site was nothing more than a cheap forum website that I created on a whim. Now, it has become a tool for people like me who are learning Japanese! This website has become a dream come true for me. It is an opportunity for me to help others with their Japanese, to educate, to share my work, and to make awesome new friends! You see, actually, five years ago I gave up my dream to become a writer so that I could study Japanese, and pursue English teaching someday. This website made it possible for me to realize all my different dreams, and I now write weekly Japanese-related articles on the homepage for our members and followers to read! So many people enjoy reading the articles, and I get so many emails from members conveying their love for the site... I just can't wait to see what Gaiwa will become in 2014! It's exciting!

If you haven't joined yet, please do consider joining! Especially if you are studying Japanese, and are interested in taking part in an online Japanese learner's community! The site is completely free to join, just click on the "forum" and sign up now!


And now for the best news of all...

After saying things like "next year, I'll be in Japan!" for nearly two years now, it is finally happening for real! Next year, in May (whoops, August) I am moving to Tokyo so that I can attend the university of my dreams! Since I finished all the requirements last November, and I am now eligible to begin the application process next month! I can't say too much about this now, but when I have more information―I promise to update you all through this blog! Either way, you'll be hearing more from me!

One of the reasons that I decided to blog now, instead of waiting for May (*ahem* August), is that I want to make sure that my blog has plenty of memories from America that I can look back on later! So many exciting things could happen from now until May (AUGUST), and even though most of it will probably be unrelated to Japan, I want to write about all of it and share it with all of you!

So please consider to support me, before and after my departure to Tokyo!

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