Greetings from Osaka!

Hello, everyone. My name is Brian. I’m originally from Montgomery, Alabama in the Southeastern part of the United States, but I presently live in Osaka where I teach high school English. I’ve lived in Japan for about three and a half years all together. I’ve volunteered to do blog entries here at Japancast.net to give anyone interested an inside view of a year in the Kansai region, as well as the occasional insight I’ve garnered from many years of studying Japanese. But, I’ll save all that for future entries. For now, I’d like to share my personal Japanese history with you.

I met my first Japanese friends in 2000. I went to college at the University of Alabama, where many foreign students attend the English Language Institute (ELI) in order to improve their English so they can pass TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Langauge) and enter regular university classes. The ELI also occasionally hosts groups of Japanese and Korean students for special month-long programs, usually during Asian Spring and Summer breaks, the the entire months of March and August, respectively. A friend of mine at the time was working part-time at the ELI and got the job of student assistant for that year’s Chiba University group. My friend, being the very outgoing, social person she was, made sure to invite everyone she knew to come meet and interact with the group of 30 Japanese college students. Over the next few weeks, a few of my friends and I hit it off with five of the Chiba-Dai-sei and my life changed forever! I’d never thought much about Japan or other foreign countries before, but making Japanese friends opened my eyes to a much bigger world. I guess the experience was just as monumental for them, because those same five came back on their own to visit us that summer. My friend Takeshi taught me a few Japanese words and phrases and I thought it was really fun, so that fall I signed up for JA-101. During these final two years of my college career I continued studying Japanese (oftentimes studying ahead while ignoring my chemistry homework!) and when I finished all my major requirements, I applied to go to Chiba for a year and was accepted. I returned home to Alabama and for a while I was sure I would never return to Japan, but after a year I decided I really wanted to go back, so I applied for the JET Programme. I was eventually accepted and I’ve been living in Osaka since the summer of 2005. Last year I took and passed the JLPT, level 2 (barely!), and this year I’ve started reading Japanese novels, albeit very slowly. I’m thinking I might try to take level 1 next year, if I feel my reading comprehension/speed have improved enough.

I look forward to sharing with everyone my experiences. Please feel free to ask me anything and everything, and any and all comments will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!