Northern Lights College student to study in Japan

DAWSON CREEK ? A graduate of Northern Lights College is preparing to spend 10 months living and studying in Japan.

Justine Bouchard, a graduate from this year?s Visual and Graphic Communication Arts program, has been awarded the Tezukayama Gakuin University scholarship. She will be leaving for Osaka, Japan in September to enter studies at Tezukayama Gakuin University, and will be in Japan until July 2008.

Bouchard found out she was the scholarship?s recipient at the end of April, and has been busy since then. One of the biggest challenges she will face is that she does not speak Japanese.

?I?m starting to learn Japanese. Right now I?m just starting to learn how to pronounce each different letter, and it?s so different how they pronounce things, and how quick the pace of the language is. We slur lots of our letters, but they really pronounce each vowel very precisely,? Bouchard said.

As part of her academic requirements in Japan, Bouchard has to take a Japanese language course and a Japanese modern history and society course.

?After that, I?ve been told I can take whatever other courses I want, but I have to realize it?s completely in Japanese with no English,? Bouchard said.

But, by her second semester, she is hoping she will be much more fluent in the language to better understand a full class in Japanese. Her plan is to take some art courses, or maybe cooking courses as her electives.

The program with Tezukayama Gakuin University has been in operation since 1990, with the Japanese school providing NLC students with a scholarship for free tuition, an apartment and a monthly living allowance.

In fact, Bouchard said she became aware of the scholarship after talking with the younger sister of a student who is currently in Japan through the same program.

She said that the idea of having her own apartment appealed to her, because it meant not having to worry about compatibility with a roommate or a host family. The apartment is a 15-minute walk from the university.

Once she was aware of the program, Bouchard had to submit a 500-word essay as part of her application, outlining why she would be a good representative for the College and the Peace region. After that, she was interviewed by members of the College?s International Education department.

Bouchard said she found some of the questions rather interesting, especially how she would deal with homesickness.

?Ever since I?ve been in grade eight, my best friends always seem to move to a different country or across the country,? Bouchard said. ?But I?m still good friends with all those people. It?s easy for me to keep long distance relationships with people.?

She was also intrigued by the interest that was shown in a Grade 12 acting award she listed as one of her accomplishments. But because of her lack of experience with the Japanese language, Bouchard believes her acting ability may come in handy.

?With the language barriers, with lots of hand gestures and being trained in how to express myself with body in acting classes, it will help,? Bouchard said.

Bouchard is responsible for paying for her own airfare and medical insurance. The scholarship does include about CDN $500 in spending money per month, although in discussions she has had on the Internet with people currently working in Japan, she?s aware that might not be enough to live on.

?I?m saving up money to go there, and a girl who?s on the same scholarship from UNBC wants me to take her job teaching English when she comes home,? Bouchard said.

Along with her studies, Bouchard will have free time during her studies to travel in Japan or neighbouring countries.

For more information on the College?s International Education program, check the College website at nlc.bc.ca.