One on One with KCP Alum Abigail Dunn, Part 3

KCP’s Academic Year 2016 student, Abigail Dunn, shares her valuable insights on her life changing experience with KCP in Japan. Many thanks, Abigail!

So, you’re back in Japan for a second time, but now you’ve got some Japanese under your belt and you’re ready for a year of intensive study.

Abigail: I’m very excited! Funny story: Immediately after I got out of immigration [customs], I got stopped by a TV crew and they interviewed me – in Japanese. I’ve heard it’s popular to stake out the arrivals and ask questions of who is coming off the airplanes and why.

They asked me, “Why are you here?” And, “What’s your favorite kanji?” I was very sleep-deprived and I just said “waro” which means “to smile or laugh” – which is the first thing that popped into my head. Then they said, “Can you write it for us?” – oh, pressure! So I did. I remembered it. That’s mostly why I said it. But it’s just a blur. I never got to see it on TV.

What can students expect from KCP once they arrive in Japan? What are those first few days like?

Abigail: KCP comes to pick you up. I waited with other students in this area, but I vowed I didn’t want to speak any English. The coordinator, Ai, was very surprised to hear me speaking Japanese right away. Most students come in at Level 1 so I didn’t really want to sit with them and speak English!

After the trip from the airport, I took the train to meet my host family. I feel like every experience I had in Japan was unique. My host family, for instance, the dad was Japanese but the mom was Russian so their kids were bilingual. They were middle-school to toddler to baby. I wanted host siblings – but they were a bit young! I had my own room. I had breakfast and dinner with them. They live about four stops from Asia University. I was 50 minutes from KCP. I walked from their house to the train station for about 20 minutes. Then I took two trains. I had never taken trains either. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get lost on the way or get on the wrong train, but I had a lot of help from train attendants and people on the street who thought I looked confused. I got to use Japanese right off the bat, so that was nice.

The first day is orientation; a Saturday. All new students sit in a big hall – there were about 100-ish from all different places. That same day we had to take our placement test. There’s written, listening, and speaking interview. This is how they decide where you were going to start on Monday. I was determined to get into Level 3 so there was a lot of pressure. I didn’t want to take Level 2 again!

They asked me, what level do you want to get into? And I said Level 3, and they said, “Oh good, because that’s what you’re getting into!”

Read Parts 1 and 2! Stay tuned for more, from Abigail!