My Struggle With Language Barrier

My Struggle With Language Barrier

Being Tri-lingual is difficult.
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Coming to study abroad in Japan for an entire semester, I knew that there would be some difficulties I would face. However, I never thought that the language would be the main one. I though that after three semesters of a language, I would be able to at least have simple conversations with people. I feel as if all the time and money put into me learning a language was for nothing. It's not necessarily that I don't know how to speak, but I just get so nervous that I'm going to say something wrong that I forget everything I learned. All the vocabulary and grammar rules just leave my brain, and sometimes even English too.

This has also been a huge struggle with my host family. I originally requested a family that knows a lot of English but my family knows no English at all. Half the time I don't know what they are saying and the other half I do but don't know how to respond. It's so frustrating that sometimes my host sister (who is 8) will say, "Camille can't understand Japanese," which I can understand but can't really respond too.

Although I could have easily left my host family and go to the dorms, I figured this would force me to study more; which it has. Both my family and I try really hard to understand each other with dictionaries and writing. We even act it out or draw it on a white board which makes it also a lot more fun and less stressful. Plus, I have just started to get use to living with them.

One of the biggest issues I am facing is the accents. Just like how in the U.S. you can tell if someone is from Kentucky or from New York, Japan has accents as well. In class they each you Tokyo Japanese which is considered "proper Japanese." However, my host school and my homestay are in Osaka so everyone has an Osaka dialect (Osaka-ben). For the most part, this means that some words have different slang meaning or (most of the time) words and phrases are shortened or pronounced differently.

More specifically my host school is located in the Kansai region of Osaka so not only am I struggling with Osaka-ben, now I have deal with Kansai-ben too! The words and the way people around my school and homestay say things are different from other locations like central Osaka. This makes listening to people and trying to understand them very difficult. I'm still learning a lot and struggling when communicating with people but hopefully by the end of the semester I will feel much better with my Japanese. Then again, I guess this wouldn't be such a worth wild challenge if there wasn't some kind of language barrier.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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What's Happening In China?

The Chinese government stands accused of rounding up Chinese Muslims and holding them without trial and against their will.

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Recently, NowThis news source released a video of an advocate by the name of Aydin Anwar speaking about the current state of East Turkestan. She discussed how people were being taken from their homes, their lives, and forced into "concentration camps" (her words specifically). She alleges that inside these camps, people are being tortured and forced to denounce God and their own identities and religions and then to pledge loyalty to the Chinese president, government, and country. She even says that one of her own relatives was sent to a camp and was killed there.

This video spread around the internet pretty rapidly circulated this information with the video having over 19 million views on Facebook. I decided to do some digging into this. If what Anwar alleges is true, it closely resembles actions taken by Chechnya to purge their LGBT population back in 2017 and even actions were taken against the many millions who were affected by the Holocaust. Here is what I have found so far:

The government has denied any concentration or internment camps. They claim that people are at special schools to combat the rise of religious violence and extremism. Despite this claim, BBC reporters have published an aerial image of an alleged concentration camp in the desert this past April (2018) that was not present in July of 2015. Another aerial image taken in October 2018 shows the alleged concentration camp has grown in size since April.

Inside these concentration camps, as outlined earlier, the Chinese government is carrying out acts of psychological and physical torture. It is alleged that the guards and interrogators inside the camps are pulling out nails and teeth as forms of torture to counteract any "bad behavior" or "resistance". It is also alleged that victims are tied down in chairs and left in solitary confinement. Snakes are used during interrogations as well. Victims inside the concentration camps allegedly stand chanting things like "there is no God" or "all hail the Chinese state" for hours on end. It has even been alleged that people inside the concentration camps are being sterilized (this is a practice used in genocide to destroy the possibility of any future offspring from the affected group of people).

But, you may be thinking, if this is true, WHY hasn't anyone in a position of power done anything? There are a few different answers to this question: The first is that China is extremely good at regulating what their media can and cannot post. This means any news of the concentration camps generated within the country itself would immediately be shut down before even reaching the post. Also, China has close ties with strong countries and could be suing its political and economic (specifically its economic) power to put pressure on the rest of the world not to say anything. Think about it, many products come with a little tag that says "made in China". This gives China the power and connections to shut down production of goods. In an economic world such as this, production means power.

However, YOU can do something. You can dig around for more information and raise awareness for such atrocities. Here are a few links to get you started:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/China_...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/china-is-c...

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