By Lian Eytinge
When I was a junior at USC, I spent the entire academic year abroad in Tokyo, Japan. I went because I wanted to learn more about what life is like in a different culture, as well as immerse myself in a language other than my own. While abroad, I realized three major ideas that helped me navigate my time in Japan, thus enriching my experiences. Now that I’m back in my home country, I’d like to pass these ideas on to any international student who is studying here at USC and struggling with the language.
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I know it can be scary to speak in a different language; you don’t want to mess up or look stupid in front of people. I learned that from speaking with lots of different people in Japanese that it is okay to make mistakes and that native speakers won’t think badly of you for messing up. I know it is hard to believe but if you just push forward and try to communicate your idea, you can learn more and develop your speaking skills better than not speaking up at all. To get in the mindset of speaking freely, I thought to myself: “This is a great chance to get to learn a language through talking to native speakers. I won’t get a chance like this for a long time. I have to seize this opportunity!”
2. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. If the native speaker is talking too fast or you cannot understand the words they are saying, try asking them to repeat themselves slowly or ask them to say it in a different way. Native speakers understand you are learning and will try to accommodate you as best they can! After all, it is harder for you to translate what they say and speak your opinion than it is for them as a fluent speaker to repeat their sentence slower. You might initially think it is rude to ask someone to repeat themselves but, I can assure you, it is not. Asking someone to repeat themselves means that you care about what they have to say and that what they are talking about is important for you to fully understand.
Continue reading A Few Things I learned from Studying Abroad
By Minah Ha
From November 10th-12th, Joshua Tree National Park will be partnering with the National Park Service in order to bring star enthusiasts the Night Sky Festival. This is the third annual Night Sky Festival that the park has hosted for those who want to sit under a sky full of stars.Although this event is free of charge, if you decide to come on November 10th, you will have to pay a park entrance fee of $30. However, because of Veteran’s Day weekend, there will be no park entrance fee on November 11th and 12th! Joshua Tree National Park, located three hours away from Los Angeles is known for its unique Joshua trees and desert flowers in the day to it’s breathtaking desert stars in the night. Because the park itself is located far from big cities, the lack of urban lights allows stars to be clearly seen. Thus, star enthusiasts in Southern California flock to Joshua Tree to stargaze and explore the many constellations that they can’t see in their own urban environments due to light pollution. Many describe the desert stars in Joshua Tree as millions of specks in the sky and when sitting under it, you can’t help but to think about the vastness of the universe.
Beginning at 5am, the Night Sky Festival will showcase various astronomy programs throughout the day. You can learn about the different constellational stories and folktales that have been passed down through storytellers and identify those stars in the sky. There will be park rangers, scientists, and astronomers explaining the various workings of our solar system to all those who want to learn about the science behind our stars as well! Additionally, at night, telescopes will be placed for viewers to get a clearer look at the stars and possibly the different planets! If the weather permits, you also might be able to get to clearly see the Milky Way as well!
Continue reading This Weekend, Joshua Tree National Park Hosts the Night Sky Festival
By Autumn Palen
Last spring, towards the end of April, I boarded an overnight bus at 11pm — just me and the backpack my mom had loaned me for the semester. One uncomfortably upright night of sleep later, I found myself in a country where nobody knew me, and I didn’t know their language.
And I spent one week there.
This is how that went.
The country in question was The Netherlands, and, although I arrived at Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station, just outside the capital itself, I stayed with a family in Heemstede, south of the markedly smaller city of Haarlem.
Getting from Amsterdam to Heemstede on my own, at dawn, turned out to be a bit trickier than expected. Even in English, the ticketing machine was exceptionally confusing, and the validation system was something my Morning Brain was not ready to absorb. Once I boarded the train, anxiety hummed within me as the Fare Enforcement Officer made his way up the aisle, for fear of not having done it correctly. Thankfully, the officer didn’t bat an eye, nor did I have to open my mouth and make Dutch come out.
I wasn’t in the clear, though. There was still the matter of getting off the train.
Continue reading How (Not) To Be the Only Person You Know in an Entire Country