Why Japan? by Ashanti Long

I would like to introduce myself; my name is Ashanti S. Long and I’m a Junior at the College of Charleston. I am a Computer Science Major and I want to minor in Japanese Studies. At first, I didn’t want to major in Computer Science, I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I was younger. I have always loved animals and enjoyed their company. I think I was influenced by the close relationship I had with my first dog, Gunner. He was a pure-breed German Shepherd. During my junior year of high school, he suddenly got ill, and I had to send him to the vet and found out he had internal bleeding. I had to make a choice to put him down or let him get surgery however; he would end up in the same condition 6 months later. So, after I made the decision to put him down I guess I also lost the motivation I had to become a vet. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a while until after I saw my parents watching CSI and the guy was programming and doing all this neat stuff. I felt like it was magic how they were getting all the information, so I decided to major in it without knowing a lot about it. When I came to college, I realized I am not the best at it yet, but I enjoy it when I apply myself and figure it out, so I work hard to get better at it. I find that the most admirable trait is not being good at something, but still working hard at it and making something out of it that you can do for a living. I always believe that hard work will betray none while dreams can betray many. Right now, I don’t have any major dreams since I have achieved my dream of going to Japan.  I hope to return to Japan one day. I also believe that working hard alone does not assure that you will achieve your goals, but there are more cases that you do than you don’t. Even so working hard and achieving something is consolation enough.  I try to live each day one day at a time, trying to do things I can do now, I feel like the past can often fill me with frustration and the future can often fill me with anxiety, so to live in the present is likely the happiest time. Enjoy the moment. That is why I decided to take baby steps and do what I can do now, helping the people I can help now and learning the things I can do now.

As for Japan, my father was in the Marines and lived in Okinawa for 4 years with my older brother. At the time I wasn’t born yet, so I never got to experience it: after he moved back I was born. During that time my brother would babysit me and told me stories of Japan and introduced me to anime. I believe the first show I ever watched was Dragon Ball GT when I was younger. After listening to my dad and brother’s stories about Japan I felt some connection to it, like I have lived there and experienced those things. It gave me a huge urge to learn about the culture and the people; I always saw how happy my brother and dad were talking about Japan and I wanted to experience that also. I was always afraid because once I came to college I was finally able to pursue this goal and learn Japanese but I felt like I wasn’t improving, I felt stuck and didn’t know where to start or where to begin so I thought about giving up; however, after I met some of the Japanese students that visited CofC,  they showed me their passion for learning English. They told me their dreams and goals and I felt envious of them and it brought back that initial desire to work harder and to be able to communicate with them. They were all so nice but there was only little I could say to them. That’s why I wanted to go abroad and travel to Japan: it is a way for me to me immerse in the culture, people and language, but it’s more than that. It also helps me understand myself better and see where I to go from this point. I want to understand the world better and the people that live in it, so I need to branch out and discover new things. I can’t be afraid of failure or being away from home. I can’t be afraid that things won’t work out; I can just keep pushing and keep on walking forward so that’s just a little about me and how I think.

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