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Rika Wakai: Learning about Home

May 21, 2020

Rika Wakai is a graduate from the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages. This content is repurposed from the College of Arts and Letters. The original piece is available here

Growing up in the United States, I enjoyed learning about Japan, my ancestral home and the country from which my parents migrated to the United States before I was born. This made me want to learn more about the country and its culture, so much so that I decided to major in Japanese and pursue it as a career.

During my junior year, I transferred from Oakland Community College as I was drawn to MSU's Japanese program. This month, I graduated with a B.A. in Japanese and a linguistics minor.

When I realized my passion, I added a Linguistics minor to my studies with the hope of using both my major and minor in my future. Both have allowed me to learn and understand more about the Japanese language.

I am going after a career in translation because I want to help bridge the gap between English and Japanese and help people better understand one another. Being a bilingual English/Japanese speaker helped me keep an open mind while I was at MSU, and I know it will continue to be useful in the future. 

Attending MSU has helped me have a little more confidence in myself. I was able to accomplish almost everything I wanted to do as a student. But, I wish I had a little more time to get involved in clubs or extracurriculars. My time here was largely spent working to pay for college, so I was unable to join many activities. I worked in the dining hall in Landon, Heritage Commons and Brody Hall.

As a whole, my experience as an MSU student feels like it has been short and long at the same time.

It felt long when I was going through it, when I was struggling through classwork and working, doing homework and maybe taking a break in between with my friends. But when I look back, it feels really short, and I will definitely miss these days — even if I struggled through them.

I think this experience of struggling will help me in the future. If work, or any other hardships come along, I'll be able to work through it. I'll be able to look back to those times and say I made progress.