Japanese Personal Statement

I am applying to study Japanese as I aspire to become as close to fluent in Japanese as possible, and develop a sophisticated understanding of Japanese culture. My interest in Japan began with anime, which I began watching aged 12. Throughout the years, I developed a fascination with the sounds of the Japanese language, and its structure. I equally loved seeing the representation of various Japanese traditions, attitudes, and beliefs. Particularly, the 2016 Naoko Yamada film 'Koe no Katachi' provided me an insight into Japanese values around social outcasts, focusing on themes of bullying, friendship, redemption, and suicide. Adding to this, representations of Shinto Buddhism in Japanese media, such as in the 2016 Makoto Shinkai film 'Kimi no Na wa', have inspired me to take an interest in religion in
Japan.
I believe that I would excel on this course as I have a great memory, and am a fast learner, therefore I would be adept to keep up with the extensive language workload. I have also been a Mensa member since year 8. As proven by my grade 9 in GCSE Spanish, and high grades achieved in practice GCSE Japanese papers completed in my spare time, I have an aptitude for languages, and a genuine passion for them. I am currently working through the Duolingo Japanese course, which has vastly improved my reading of all three writing systems, as well as my vocabulary and understanding of grammatical concepts. Furthermore, I have given my friend beginner's Japanese lessons on hiragana, katakana, basic vocabulary, and sentence structure. Through this, I have gained a deeper understanding of these aspects of Japanese myself.
I am currently studying for a Linguistics A level, which has imparted to me a sound knowledge of English grammar concepts, as well as how to analyse texts. This will enable me to better
and more quickly understand Japanese grammar concepts, along with the meanings behind Japanese texts within the course. In my first year of college, I took part in a Spanish enrichment activity, continuing my interest in languages and introducing me to a more conversation-based way of learning. Additionally, I study Sociology, which introduced me to collectivist cultures, like Japan. Through this, and studies in A level Psychology, I have come to
understand how Japanese social culture differs from my own, and how the western world can regard this as negative due to stereotypes and imposed etics.
In my spare time, I attend Explorers, which in addition to gaining practical life skills has also allowed me to express my love for Japanese culture. I ran an East Asian culture night, for which I prepared a Japanese-inspired dish, yakitori chicken and edamame, and bought East Asian snacks for them to try from a local Chinese supermarket. Then, I encouraged them to talk
about their own interest in other cultures. This experience not only increased my confidence and leadership skills, but was a deciding factor in my being awarded 'Most Improved Explorer
of the Year 2019'.
Translation is of particular interest to me due to the vast amount of poignancy within Japanese media that is simplified through translation into English, therefore losing its truest and most profound interpretations. An example of this would be in the anime 'Boku Dake ga Inai Machi', where the English subtitles read 'but I can't see you', yet the original Japanese could be more accurately translated to 'I can't see your true face'. This broad
translation eliminates the possibility of a non-Japanese speaker being able to discern the more complex or abstract meanings as the writer intended, and overall lessens the power and impact of the scene. In the future, I plan to become either a translator or a Japanese teacher to advocate for more intuitive translations between languages. This course would provide me with the essential knowledge to be able to succeed in this profession. I would go on to complete a Masters in translation before pursuing this career.

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Author's Comments

My personal statement seems quite average to me, but hopefully it can help some people out :) I’m still waiting for decisions from Leeds and Manchester (have an interview coming up), but this statement got me into Newcastle, Sheffield, and UEA so far

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