- Desiree Erchick ’17
- Hometown: Alliance, OH
- Major: Japanese and French
Mount Union provides wonderful opportunities to experience the world around you, whether it's studying abroad, spring break trips or volunteering in different communities.
Kristin Gist '07
My study abroad in Osaka, Japan encouraged me to continue my studies of both the language and the country. I applied and got accepted to the JET Program where I spent four wonderful years teaching English in Miyazaki in southern Japan. This job not only allowed me a closer view of Japanese life, but also gave me the chance to explore many places around Japan. Traveling around in Japan really opened my eyes to the variety and beauty of the country.
Having a degree in Japanese was absolutely beneficial to my job as a teacher and for living from day to day. Many people felt shy to speak English with a native at times, so being able to communicate in their language helped many of them feel comfortable enough to try or at least approach me. My students, especially, found me more approachable when I could understand or speak with them in Japanese. I always felt relieved that my Japanese studies allowed me to ask for help when I needed it and allowed me to thank the people who were patient and kind enough to assist me when I was at a lost.
Living in Japan, I also had the opportunity to study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JPLT). It required a lot of studying in grammar, vocabulary, listening, and writing. It was a feat to study enough hours every day while working, but it was very rewarding and at times exciting. I could ask the teachers or other staff questions about Japanese that I didn't understand and bond with them a little. After intense studying over many months, I took the test in Kagoshima and passed for level 2. I intend to continue studying and take the test for the next and highest level, 1, in the future. Many jobs in Japan seeking to hire bilingual employees want them to be level 2 or level 1, so I recommend that anyone going down that path should definitely think about adding a JPLT certification to their resume.