Amy Shi

Anyone who’s chosen to learn another language will tell you about the "spark" that ignited their interest. For some, it’s an unforgettable travel experience; for others, it’s a desire to step outside their comfort zone.

For Amy Shi, it was a "life-changing" visit to ANU’s College of Asia & the Pacific as a high school student.

"It was the Asia Pacific Day at ANU that completely sold me," said Amy, who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Languages.

"That day was life-changing for me. I always knew I wanted to study abroad. Hearing an ANU student who studied in Japan talk about their experience cemented my goal."

Studying Chinese and Japanese, Amy fulfilled her dream in 2017 by studying in both countries. Over six weeks in January and February, she studied at Akita International University, while she underwent an immersive Chinese course in July at Nankai University in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.

Despite originally being accepted into her "dream" university in Tokyo, Amy opted to study at Akita in northern Japan. With a population of just over 300,000, Akita offered Amy a more immersive experience.

"I was born and raised in Canberra, and I love my small cities. Going to smaller city, there are quite a few perks. You’re able to become friends with locals because there are fewer international students," said Amy, whose six-week program was at Akita International University.

Although Japanese is available at several Australian universities, Amy said her decision to study the language at ANU was boosted by the "accelerated learning" model.

"Compared to other languages where you might need to study for three years to fulfil a major, here you can do it in two years and take non-language courses that you’re interested in," said Amy, who plans to research the Hokkaido dialect in her honours year.

From beginner to advanced levels, spoken and written courses for Chinese and Japanese are separated at ANU. This approach provides students with a solid foundation in grammar, reading and listening.

Amy, who has worked as a nurse at a local veterinarian clinic over the past five years, ultimately hopes to combine her love for languages and animals.  

"Even in my work as a nurse I get a lot of use out of my language skills. I feel that being a trilingual vet would be an awesome career," she said.

"Regardless of your career path, language skills will always be useful. You become more adaptable and open-minded. If you want to do it, do it now – don’t procrastinate!"

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team