Sierra, JoAnn


Language: Japanese

Location of Study: Hakodate, Japan

Program of Study: Hokkaido International Foundation Japanese Language and Japanese Culture Program

Sponsors: The Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures

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A brief personal bio:

Hello, my name is JoAnn Sierra. I’m a sophomore Psychology major with a minor in Japanese. In regards to my experience of traveling internationally, I have only traveled to England. England is a lovely place with a rich history and wonderful people. However, England is similar to the USA, so I wanted to visit a country that was different from the USA or anywhere in Europe. As I previously stated, I am currently working on acquiring a minor in Japanese. Since beginning my studies in Japanese I have learned an array of interesting things about Japan’s culture and society as a whole. From what I’ve learned so far, it is clear that Japan is quite different from the USA. For that reason, in combination my work towards a Japanese minor, I felt that it only made sense that I apply to study abroad in Japan.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

The SLA grant is important to me because of the immense opportunity it has given me to explore my passion for Japanese. Growing up, the financial situation wasn’t the best, so there were many opportunities that passed me by. This is why the SLA grant means so much to me on a personal level. Academically, this grant has helped contribute to the future advancement of my Japanese and understanding of Japanese culture. With it, I was able to gather enough funds to participate in an eight-week study abroad program where I will not only study Japanese, but take part in cultural classes and experience living with a Japanese family. All of these combined are key to the development of my fluency in Japanese and my understanding of Japan as a society. After acquiring all this knowledge, I hope to find a way to combine my interest in Psychology and Japanese to find a career that will allow me to give back to the people of Japan.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

This study abroad has so much to offer. Although eight-weeks sounds like a long time, I know that time will fly by before I know it. With this, I have three general things I hope to achieve as a result of this experience. The first one is to simply complete all of 3rd Year Japanese with a clear understanding of all that was taught, increased writing skills and better fluidity when speaking Japanese. Second, I hope to learn all the various nuances of Japanese life. I want to understand the way the people interact and in what ways has their culture/history has affected the way Japanese society is today. Lastly, after understanding the first two, I want to figure out what issues lie within the society and figure out how I can use my degree to find a career that will aid in fixing some of these issues.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

1. By the end of the summer, I will be able to carry out a conversation in Japanese fluently while using casual speech

2. By the end of the summer, I will be able to understand the historical context that has evolved Japanese society and culture into what it is today

3. By the end of the summer, I will be able to read Japanese books at a higher difficulty level than what I currently am capable of reading