Furman University offers a unique housing program termed the “Modern Language House” which is located in North Village apartment complex, A. It houses several different languages, including Spanish, Chinese, French, Japanese, and many more! In this post, I will share my experiences specifically with the Japanese Language House and the various events they hold throughout the year! I hope this post enlightens you on a fun and engaging experience that you could be a part of at Furman.
First and foremost, I will give a brief overview of how I was introduced to this wonderful program. Starting Freshmen year, I decided to take Japanese to fulfill my language GER (General Education Requirement) and because I had a general interest in the Japanese language and culture prior to entering Furman. My first-year Japanese language professor was Dr. Alexander Francis-Ratte, a positive and energetic man who had a genuine love for the language and a strong desire to teach his students it. He was the first person, in my student experience, to fervently promote the Modern Language House program available for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. This program allows students to live with fellow peers that are taking or majoring in Japanese, exchange students from Japan, and the Japanese language house assistant who teaches first- and second-year students one day every single week. Likewise, students who participate in this program are invited to special cultural events that further build community between the Japanese language students and the Japanese exchange students.
Although I personally haven’t lived in the JMLH (as I decided to wait until this upcoming fall, my Junior year, to participate in the program), I often visited North Village A all throughout my sophomore year, as I had several friends who lived there. On the flip side, when I was a Freshmen, I was nervous and frightened that I wouldn’t know how to effectively speak the language and make a fool out of myself; however, those were unfounded fears. Every single Japanese exchange student and Japanese major were super encouraging and welcoming. As I pieced together sentences in Japanese, I was praised for my progress, and I realized that it was okay to make mistakes. I was genuinely surprised to see that the Japanese exchange students and the Japanese language house assistant were so grateful that I even attempted to speak to them in their native language, no matter how many times I messed up. As I improved in speaking Japanese, I was able to connect to the Japanese exchange students and the Japanese language house assistant on an even deeper level than I ever imagined. Mana-sensei, my sophomore-year language house assistant, became a close friend in the time she was here, and I’m always thankful for meeting her!
What I gained from this program was so much more than I ever expected. I joined a great group of people who were pursuing the same passion as I am, a deeper appreciation for the language and the culture, and amazing friends from another country who I hope to see again during Spring 2021 for my study abroad journey in Japan.
Below are several more of the events that I participated in and short descriptions of the cultural meaning behind them!
Thanks for reading and learning about the Japanese Language House program!