My (failed) Tsukuba summer Research Program application

From the title I’m sad to say that I failed in getting into this program of my dreams.  It was way too competitive with over 500 applicants I believe. I remember feeling so dang sure that I would get it given the effort I put into the application but it was no good for me this time. I checked and double checked and prayed that someone would have dropped out from the program and allow me to have the space or the professor I choose to open up another space. Basically I was devastated and heartbroken. It took me days to finally let my loss sink in.

I realize with 500+ applicants for 34 lab positions was actually a tad bit impossible for me considering my lack of formal lab experience (outside of class). I’m not too sure myself but I highly believe that this may be the case.

Any who

I’ve moved on and have bitterly accepted the truth. The ice to my wounds was when one person I know told me, ” It’s their loss”But you know what?

Some good has come out of this. I got my passport and I got an inspiring thought for my pursuit of graduate studies in Japan. I realized that if I really wanted to do it, then I’d have to stop solely relying on scholarship applications and preparing myself financially.


Tsukuba Summer Research Program 2017 Application

Hello people


If you’re interested in doing research in Japan and :

have a minimum GPA of 3.0

are undergrad student(3,4,5th year) or Graduate student


Consider applying for this opportunity! I discovered it this year and submitted my application already. They extended the deadline to the 16th of May. If you’re part of the partner schools then I think it’s cheaper/free for some things. There’s also travel scholarships available. 


Here is the link: 


Good luck to us all!

Japanese/English Language exchange (Part 2 Opinion)

Hello language learners!

In the time since I last wrote part 1, on what not to do in Japanese Language exchange, I’ve come up with a few more things that kind of ruin the experience pr make it better.  There’s a lot that an be said on this topic because everyone experiences different things, and people who attend are different- so feel free to agree or disagree with my thoughts.

  1. Not speaking Japanese or English.  If you’re there to practice speaking but shy away from doing so, then you miss out on the opportunity to improve.  Some times it’s just that you don’t know what to talk about and the whole situation becomes awkward. What works for me, is having a guided language exchange session where the partners prepare something for each other. For instance, maybe the Japanese learner prepared a set of questions and activities around a theme, that get you talking. The reverse of that you also help the English learner, speak within the context of a theme. Themes can include, restaurants, shopping, going out, school, work etc. These themes introduce different settings which invite speakers to use certain vocabulary and expressions. This saves you way more time than asking random questions just to find a hook to go off on. 
  2. Can I request something? If you notice your partner isn’t using a language they’re supposed to be practicing, then please encourage them and help them out. Don’t be silent and let them keep helping just you. Remember they participating in the language exchange for a reason.  Maybe they’re too shy or they don’t know what to talk about. I invite you to be the one who asks them questions. Do whatever, don’t just stick to one language. 
  3. Be conscious of how you speak to people. I know a Japanese person who once had a exchange partner talk in a way that was condescending.  Be mindful that language is also part of a persons culture and there are ways your partner was raised to perceive things. This isn’t to say that you should be super cautious of accidentally making mistakes, but if they do bring up concern then try to be considerate. 
  4. one-on-one language exchanges have been way better for me than groups.  First of all, I find it hard just to speak in front of one person, and when surrounded by strangers my confidence just crashes down. And let me not get started when the group is already friends. That leaves you being even more distant. If I’m going to make mistakes speaking, I’d rather have one person witness it than a crowd that’s going to just talk to each other and laugh.  If you do meet someone one-on-one commonsense would have it that you should meet in public. Just need to state that in case….


Well that’s it for today. What do you guys think about it? What do you recommend works, or doesn’t? Share in the comments!

University Level Japanese Class


I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to study Japanese in two different class settings:

1) Non-academic and 

2) Academic


funny Japanese show about a teacher teaching Japanese to Foreigners

That’s my take on how to best distinguish these class types. After taking 2 school years of the “Non- Academic” I decided to continue my studies through the University. So naturally I took the placement test and when the results came back I was surprised I was still placed in a beginner class!

Now consider this for a bit, and maybe you’ll understand just exactly why I was upset; I’ve been self studying Japanese for years prior to my first ever class. So to be told that 5 years of studying only amounts to beginner level was dismaying. Now having gone through the first year level University Japanese, I understand better why I still was at the level.

The material  is not new to me, I’d seen the grammar patterns and was familiar with them, but beyond that I realized that I wasn’t likely to use them.


First know that my 2 years of the non-academic beginner years were not a waste. That’s where I learned most of the grammar I am used to seeing. I learned how to be comfortable with reading, speaking and listening to instructions in Japanese because of these classes. The problem was all in me. These classes were once a week and I tended to push the homework and my studies aside to focus on my university work. I didn’t have the pressure that the university classes provides me-my GPA’s on the line! Not everyone would think this is a good Idea. One person I met didn’t like learning Japanese in the University classes because the pressure and amount of work made them dislike Japanese even more. They wanted a more relaxed setting. 

On top of the grade pressure, there are 4 classes a week so I’m constantly exposed to Japanese daily so I can’t easily forget. Also I actually have to actively memorize the kanji and grammar rules and vocabulary. This isn’t to say that the “Non-Academic” classes had no stakes. There was a certain grade you had to achieve to get a certificate and there are these end of term “tests” where they basically see what level you’re at.  These were the classes that significantly improved my speaking, and a learning friendly environment with classes small enough for conducive learning. Personally I like the idea of combining Japanese with my school load so that it becomes of equal importance to me and that way I’ll have constant motivation to study.  

I’m writing this now because my experience thus far has been exciting. I’ve learned so many Kanji and bettered the usage of phrases and grammar! I don’t think it would have been this great if I hadn’t had prior exposure to Japanese. I am still learning all the time in University classes, but I know they would’ve been harder had I not been familiar with some of the content.



It’s all so fun and exciting! 

Will I be able to reach my goal of becoming an intermediate Japanese learner in 2 years? We’ll have to see. 🙂







Toronto,Rakugo and the Japanese Learner

Today was my first time in experiencing the Japanese comcial Rakugo at the Japan foundation. For starters, if you don’t know what that is Rakugo is storytelling which is funny-to say the least. The story teller sits on a cushion and uses their basic facial expression, tone and  gestures to tell the story. I don’t think they can stand, but can stand on their knees.

So how was it?

 I loved being there and seeing the show, but I believe most of the jokes went over my head because my limited Japanese ability. I relied on the subtitles mostly, but at the same time, that was a bit distracting because the focus was on the actual performer. 

Would I recommend Rakugo to people? YES! Being exposed to more Japanese culture, no matter how incapable you may be in truly understanding, is a step forward towards understanding.  I can almost imagine my future self attending another Rakugo similar to today’s and thorougly enjoying it to the fullest. It’ll be interesting for two reasons:

  1. I actually get 100% of the humor
  2. I can see I developed stronger Japanese skills capable of understanding.


If you missed out today, there’s another show happening at the JCCC tomorrow, and apparently this particular Shishou will be visiting other places too!




unfortunately Pictures of the show weren’t allowed.

How to Be the Change?

We’ve all come across the quote, be the change you want to see in the world, and to must of us all it’ll ever be is just that, a quote. 


After reading the winning essay on goipeace website youth category, I was touched to see the quote being applied by a 17 year old.  Her article amazed me, and all she took was a simple step forward  in creating an impact. After visiting  an orphanage, she decided to write a book that could help with their future. I don’t want to say more than I already have,because it’s better for you to read it yourself

The point is, what makes the change makers different from the dreamers, is that although they also dream, they take action. Taking action requires your own thinking. What can you contribute, and how? Maybe you have certain skill sets that can be of benefit. It’s time for us to get creative about it.

My suggestion: Take time out for yourself to think. This could be during long walks, showers or before bed, where ever you do your best thinking. Don’t aim too big, break the task down and tackle it , whatever you can handle. 

Analyse the problem you want to solve. It may appear bigger than it is, but perhaps there are smaller chunks you can take and help out with. 


Anyway, I’ll be thinking as usual. My next research project gives me hope that maybe I can contribute something!

Down in the Dumps


So I know about a couple of opportunities that could give me my career in Japan a start, but I’m just well, intimidated by the application procedures.


In my soul, or whatever it is, I feel this light of motivation wanting me to drive forward. I want to take action, and just do it. On the other hand, I take in the fact that everyone else is also applying from around the world. Who am I to compete with stellar grades?

I mean really, they’ll see my transcript and see the 2 courses I failed(ignoring the good ones), but they wouldn’t know the amount of effort that went into them, or the stories behind these grades. These don’t represent what I have understood or learned, but why would they take a chance on taking me in?

So, as always, I have this thought like I mentioned before. I have to prove myself to them in other ways. So to show my seriousness in the carer path I have chosen, I make it a point to continually create research projects, attend symposiums, and write more researched papers, to better equip myself with the skills and education I need.  For instance, I’m current;y working on my next research project, taking a step further into making it something more relevant to my field of interest, or close to the labs I’m interested in applying for.

As someone who’s quick to learn techniques and ways, I’d like to show them that though there are those grades, I won’t slow down the lab at all. Yes I typically have questions, but usually to get my mind rolling, to widen my view. I have a goal, and that is to contribute to the scientific findings  that’ll help with health.

Well, you know what, I’ll still go for it. I’ll put my heart into it. At least, I’m doing ok on relevant courses, and excelling on the one that actually matters. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop putting effort. Actually I think I’m quite close to a Eureka moment, but till I break that wall, I won’t know.

Everything about this school year has felt right. More happier and relaxed, since I fixed a few more things. After years of rethinking and reorienting, I think I’ve found the ‘promised land’. Well to imagine what I see, it’s like I’d been lost for years wandering around to find a land I’ve heard of. Only now I’ve reached a new land that looks like this ‘promised land’. I just have to explore a bit. They don’t call me ‘The map’ for nothing.


Anyway,I shall continue foraging, and bringing out my best!



By the way, I’m dressing more professionally now a-days!!! (In comparison to my careless way). I got to dress my part.




Previous Older Entries