Arts and Sciences
Author: Anastasia Ulianova
Applied in: Winter 2013
University Offers: Ucl
Today, Japan’s position as one of the world’s cultural superpowers makes its language an invaluable skill to possess. As I am fluent in Russian, French and English, exposure to different cultures since an early age has not only developed in me an affinity towards languages, but also cultivated a profound appreciation of other cultures and their literatures. I can see now the influence one’s culture has on relations. And, in light of Japan and Russia’s conflicted affairs, I would love to someday take part in establishing an understanding between these two civilizations, which is why I choose this course. My interest in Japan stems from genuine admiration and curiosity for its culture and language. It is my driving ambition to fully immerse myself in the study of this fascinating world.
The first time I became aware of this passion was through the beauty I witnessed, as an artist, in the depiction of emotions in the eyes of anime characters several years ago. This led me to hearing spoken Japanese for the first time. I didn’t take me long to become completely infatuated with it and determined to learn it. Through self-study books at home, I have achieved a reasonably good level. My goal, of course, is to achieve complete fluency. My strong interest in Japanese culture has also led me to captivating masterpieces such as Murasaki Shikibu’s Genji Monogatari and Yasunari Kawabata’s Yukiguni. I was deeply touched by the central notion of mono no aware and awestruck at the beauty of the descriptions of nature. But despite Edward Seidensticker’s wonderful translations, I couldn't deny the disappointment in myself that I couldn’t read the original versions. This only served to strengthen my determination to study Japanese.
Yet, in all of my reading, one discovery that particularly caught my imagination was that Japan had inherited a multitude of cultural legacies from China, such as Kanji. I was drawn to this new mystery and started watching many cultural documentaries. One I was especially intrigued by, entitled “When the Louvre meets the Forbidden City”, explored Western and Chinese Art, relating these two civilizations, using art and history as a medium to build a bridge between them. From this I learned that, in the future, I want to be the one building bridges by working in and with East Asia. Currently, to gain more perspective on Chinese culture, I am reading Jonathan Spence’s “The Chan’s Greatest Continent – China in Western Minds”. Though the center of my interests is Japan, I would love to expand my knowledge of East Asian cultures.
As a student of the French educational system, specialized in the scientific pathway, I have learned to be analytical and pragmatic. My preference for subjects such as Art and Philosophy has provided me with an open and deliberative mind, which I have demonstrated by continuously acquiring high grades in my art projects. Through my love for literature, I have found that I take great pleasure in writing, having won first prize in a short story writing competition for two consecutive years in 2009-10. Currently I am developing my own novel and I have no doubt that through the study of Japan’s culture I will discover new ideas and notions that will further shape my visions of the world and help my writing evolve accordingly. I also devote myself to art. Having been heavily influenced by my fascination with Japan, I now specialize in Manga Art illustrations. After years of continuous practice, I have now reached a level that has enabled me to win an Art competition in May 2013. I also plan to participate in the 2013 Manga Jiman Competition held by the Embassy of Japan.
I strongly believe that, despite the difficulty presented by my chosen course, my ability to understand the nuances of different languages and pure hearted dedication to my work will help me undertake the fascinating challenges in Japanese studies. I feel prepared to start learning and enthusiastically welcome this new challenge!