(Continuing on from “Japanese Language“)

After a little over a year at the Regent, a family reunion was organised in Hawaii. Young and confident, I convinced myself that I should quit my job at the Regent, sell or store everything in my apartment, pack my life down to two backpacks and go to live in Hawaii. My grand plan was to work in a resort in Hawaii for a year, at the same time as taking the SAT exam to enter into American University (all thanks to my US passport).

Part 1 of my plan is as far as I made it. I used all of my savings and the money I had on my credit card to finance interviews and travel over the big island. While I was successful in getting a job, they refused to give me health insurance (a very costly thing in the US) and so my dream was dashed. Coming back to Australia was tough. I had said my goodbyes on leaving, and was sure I would not be back any time soon.

First things first I had to get money to pay off my credit card and start again. I did so by borrowing $40 from my dad, and staying at the Backpacker HQ in Kings Cross (again using my US passport) while doing odd jobs here and there to earn money. On the list of jobs I worked at Harold Park Raceway in the members bar, shift bar work for events at the entertainment center, and in the end at the Woodfire Pizza company in Crows Nest as a Bartender/cashier and then promoted to bar supervisor. In any case, I worked and saved until I had enough money for an apartment (it took about 4 months) and then moved out.

With that done I set my sights on university. I was just approaching my 21st birthday, and as such would then be eligible for the Undergraduate Preparation Program (to enter UNI as a mature age student). Long story short, I did very well in my course, and applied (and more importantly) was accepted into the University of New South Wales to do my BA Asian Studies.

Along the lines of my interest in Japan, I elected to study Advanced Japanese as a major. Pumped up with my confidence of my Japanese exchange I made a special application to start at third year. While my professor suggested that it would be better if I started in 2nd year, I insisted that while I knew it would be a challenge, I did not want to sit back and relax, I wanted to be pushed. I can not say that I was wrong, but that professor certainly was right. I struggled though advanced Japanese. While my listening and hearing skills were better than most in the class, my basic grammar suffered. I did not sit back and relax by any means. I begun setting up special meetings with my professor, who helped me specifically in the areas that needed attention. Many years later at my graduation from my Masters of Arts: International Relations, we agreed that she was really “the reason” I made it though. She was also the reason that I was accepted on my second exchange to Japan, to Kyoto University.