Vivian Kan

Vivian Kan

Class of 2009
Winner of Carl G. Seasword Award in Japanese

Even though I have always been interested in the Japanese language and culture, I only started taking Japanese when I came to Mount Holyoke College.

Japanese has been challenging and exhilarating from the start and I knew studying abroad would be the fastest way to improve my language skills. I chose to participate in the Associated Kyoto Program during my junior year because I wanted to study in a city with a rich history and I wanted to stay with host family. Those eight months abroad were one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. Not only did I become more confident in communicating in Japanese, my knowledge of the culture expanded as well.

When I took Japanese at Mount Holyoke, cultural lessons were incorporated into the lesson plan from time to time. However, the Japanese language and culture have such an intricate and important relationship that I don’t think I could have understood it without experiencing it personally.

Culturally the Japanese people communicate in a very indirect and non-confrontational way. Often I just had to do my best and guess what they really meant to say. I certainly have not mastered this “guessing game” yet but I have become more used to this method of communication. This is just one of the many aspects I find interesting about the Japanese language and culture.

Before I left, I told my host family that Kyoto is my third home (Massachusetts being the first and Hong Kong being second). But after I came back to the US, I felt as though I hadn’t experienced or learned enough about Japan to confidently call Kyoto my third home.

So now I am determined to return to Japan someday and continue my study of this fascinating language and culture.